In Kappo Chishin, famous Japanese chefs in Kyoto will make an unexpected, creative dish that is beyond the scope of Washoku. In this feature, Masahito Miyazawa, the owner and head chef of Godan Miyazawa will introduce his special "Fried eel".
"Fried eel with homemade sauce": a creative, unique dish
Fried eel served with Japanese-style Worcester sauce
Godan Miyazawa is famous for its simple but elaborate dishes that are made based on Cha-kaiseki (meals served before tea ceremonies) After working at famous restaurants such as Ryotei in Kyoto and improving his cooking skills, Chef Miyazawa opened his first restaurant, Jiki Miyazawa in 2007 and then Godan Miyazawa in 2014. A wide range of his exclusive dishes and comfort interior of his restaurants are very popular among his customers.
Secret behind the creation
Connection and timing played an important role for this dish. I think it was about a year ago. I had a chance to visit Yufuin, Oita. My friend introduced Eel farmer Keiichi Yokoyama there. Mr. Yokoyama has been involving in organic eel farming for 15 years. His eel was unique and totally different from wild-caught and other farm-raised eels. His eel had soft and springy skin and fluffy fish. I've never had such eel in my life.
At the dinner of that day, I had fried fresh abalone with Worcester sauce on the side at a Japanese-style inn in Yufuin. The abalone went perfectly with the Worcester sauce. That gave me an idea of what is like to fry Yokoyama's eel.
Although we usually eat lightly-grilled, unseasoned eel (shiroyaki) or grilled eel glazed with sweetened soy sauce (kabayaki), as Yokoyama's eel has a firm skin and rich umami, I thought it would be also nice to deep-fry it.
First, I lightly grilled eel, and then coated it with flour by using a brush, and dipped it in egg and then breadcrumbs, and then fried it in oil.
Freshly-fried eel was fluffy as I expected and the skin was crispy and soft. The aroma and flavor of the eel hasn't changed by beeing deep-fried.
Cut it into bite-size pieces and arrange them on a plate. The presentation of the eel looks elegant too. All that is left was what sauce should be served with it. Sauce should help make the fried eel's rich flavor lighter so that it goes down the throat smoothly. I thought that both soy sauce and Worcester sauce have too intense flavor that might spoil the eel's flavor. Therefore, I wanted to make sauce a little gentler but still tasty. I also wanted to make a sauce that utilizes essence of Japanese cuisine.
I thought that it would be nice to make Worcester sauce by myself. I simmered vegetables, including apple, tomato, onion, and carrot, together with potherbs, such as ginger, sansho pepper, and cloves. However, the sauce didn't have intense color that Worcester sauce usually had. I thought that it was not that simple to make my own Worcester sauce and I almost gave up making it. However, when I tasted it, it had a similar aroma to common Worcester sauce but a milder flavor. The sauce was gentle-flavored Japanese-style Worcester sauce, exactly what I wanted to make.
Immediately, I dipped the fried eel into the sauce and tasted it. Refreshing sourness and gentle sweetness spread through my mouth. It has unique herbal flavors too, which offers accent to the dish. Even, I thought myself that I made sauce that nobody had tasted before.
Yokoyama told me that he sells his eels only to the restaurant he thought they are good. Luckily, he allowed me to purchase his eels for my restaurant. As a result, I could offer "fried eel" to my customers.
My original Worcester sauce was created out of trial and error. I have received many requests from my customers that they wanted to take the sauce home. After about one year has passed after I had many great encounters in Oita, I decided to sell this homemade Worcester sauce "Usutare Sauce".
I often tell my staff that studying is important but experiences are more valuable than studying. This eel dish and sauce was created as a result of many encounters caused by my action. If I hadn't visited Oita at that time, I couldn't have tasted Yokoyama's eel and delicious fried abalone. Supported by the passion of farmers and chefs like "I want customers to enjoy delicious food.", I could come up with the idea of this dish. I learned "encounters are very valuable" through my own experience.
■ Godan Miyazawa
577 Oecho, Higashinotoin-dori Manjuji Agaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: Lunch 12:00- and Dinner 18:00-
Course meal including fried eel starts from 18,000 yen
Usutare sauce 2,500 yen (tax exclusive and 500 yen for a gift box)