BLOGA creative, next-generation dish2019.06.28

"Chilled potage with pick conger": a creative, unique dish

In Kappo Chishin, famous Japanese chefs in Kyoto will make an unexpected, creative dish that is beyond the scope of Washoku. In this feature, Mahito Owatari, the owner and chef of Gion Owatari will introduce us his special "Chilled potage with pick conger".

"Chilled potage with pick conger": a creative, unique dish

Chilled potage with jelled consommé and pick conger puree served with water shield

After working at several famous Japanese restaurants including Kisetsu Ryori Tsumura in Osaka, Chef Mahito Owatari opened his restaurant in 2009. His broth made from dried tuna that he succeeded in making after trial and error is very popular. Many his customers are addicted to this broth, even after just a sip.

Secret behind the creation

There were two steps before coming up with the idea of this dish. Hamo-no-Surinagashi (soup with pick conger puree) is a classic Japanese bowl dish served warm. This was the most popular dish at the time when I worked at the restaurant in Osaka. When I first started my restaurant, I offered this bowl dish together with nori seaweed, wasabi, and rice-flour dumplings to my customers.
However, it's been a long time since I withdrew this dish from the menu for no particular reason. However, my idea of Hamo-no-Surinagashi has greatly changed after hearing a suggestion from Chef Toshiro Ogata, who is the owner of Kappo Ogata. He suggested me, "Why don't you make Hamo-no-Surinagashi, which you used to offer, cold?"

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I had fixed ideas that Hamo-no-Surinagashi had to be served warm. Think out of the box, take each element of the dish apart, and then assemble them again. This unexpected idea inspired me and I made chilled Hamo-no-Surinagashi by getting a hint from Vichyssoise (chilled potato leek soup) and revived it on the menu in the summer of 2018. This was the first step of my idea of this dish. As I developed the dish to a new style, I wanted to add some depth of flavors to it this time.

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When making a Hamo-no-Surinagashi, I lightly grilled and pureed pick conger, and mixed it with broth made from dried bonito, and then added strained potatoes to it for making it thicker. In traditional Japanese cuisine, kuzu (arrowroot) is usually used for thickening. However, I felt that using kuzu was too standard. So, I selected potatoes.

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For the jelled consommé with pick conger, I made consommé from chicken and beef, and added skin and bones of the pick conger into the consommé. This jelled consommé contains plenty of collagen.

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For the revived version of Hamo-no-Surinagashi, I used broth made from dried bonito for both Surinagashi (pureed soup) and jelly. I used two different broths for each of them this time and used pick conger as a base flavor for the both. Therefore, you can enjoy two different flavors in a single dish, which will amuse you.

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I made both the Surinagashi and jelly ice-cold! Arranging water shield made the dish look not only cool like ice but also cute.

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While the consommé provides a sharp and robust flavor, the Surinagash provides a refreshing flavor. After enjoying each flavor, having them together will enhance these two flavors by overlapping the flavors one another. owatari-0025.jpg

Chefs in other cuisines sometime come to my restaurant to learn Japanese dishes. Accepting chefs in different cuisines at Japanese restaurants was prohibited before. However, recently we respect each other and teach cooking techniques each other. By the way, I learnt how to make consommé from a French chef. However, serving consommé itself is not interesting. As I make consommé, it should include some elements of Japanese cuisine.

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I really like reading old cooking books in these days. That is exactly to gain new insights through restudying old materials. Traditional dishes don't change by adding a touch of my arrangement, because their cooking basics are solid. Although I can try new things as many as possible, I want to add some depth to traditional dishes to make dishes that include my characters, not changing them superficially. This "Chilled potage with pick conger" are completed with such my ideas.

■Gion Owatari

570-265 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
+81-75-551-5252
Opening hours: 18:00-21:30 (L.O.) *Last entry: 21:30
Closed irregularly

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