In Kappo Chishin, famous Japanese chefs in Kyoto will make an unexpected, creative dish that is beyond the scope of Washoku. In this feature, Kazuaki BaBa, the owner and chef of Otagi will introduce his special "Tantan Noodle with Sardine and Anchoy".
"Tantan Noodle with Sardine and Anchovy": a creative, unique dish
After he had worked as a head chef at Wakuden, Chef Kazuki BaBa opened his restaurant in 2012. The chef's special course made with his genuine cooking skills and creativity become so popular in a short period that his restaurant is difficult to get a reservation. His restaurant was relocated from Kitaoji to Takagamine. His further expansion of skills and recipe repertory continues to draw attention.
Secret behind the creation
Before I opened my restaurant, I wanted to make home-made noodles someday and visited noodle manufacturers across Kyoto at some time in the past. At that time, I met the owner of Kawamura Noodle Manufacturer in Kawabata and received various instructions regarding noodle making. Since then, my home-made noodle repertory has been increasing year by year, including soba, udon, somen, and chuka-soba (Chinese-style noodles). Nowadays, noodles dishes are indispensable at my restaurant.
For that reason, I decided to include home-made noodles in my recipe when I got this offer. Blue-backed fish tastes delicious around this time of the year. I thought that minced sardine would go well with Tantan noodle (Spicy Sichuan noodle). Then, I thought of soup that could be superior to intense sardine flavor and noodles that would be coated well with the soup.
Since freshly-made noodles taste delicious, I usually prepare noodles right before serving them. Today, I made noodles that were more alike udon rather than Chinese-style noodles for this dish. I carefully thought of the ratio of flour to make noodles coated well with the soup. In addition, I made them a bit more chewy than usual to enhance the soup flavor. I'm going to slice noodles right now. Using a Yanagi knife, which is usually used for slicing fish, is one of the key techniques. As noodles become flexible and tender by slicing them with the Yanagi knife, they will easily be coated with the soup.
Next, I'm going to make sardine paste, which will be the main part of the soup. I use anchovy, and home-made marinated sardine. I mixed 2 types of sardine into the food processor, add sesame paste into it, and blend them together. The paste is used to make soup.
Then I add broth made with bonito and horse mackerel flakes into the paste. I selected Japanese-style broth with intense umami and rich flavor as a mixture. I add a small amount of broth into the paste each time and make them smooth. Don't you think the soup gradually looks like Tantan soup? This is the last step of making the soup.
Next, I heat up this soup. This is the best part to present one of my skills. I add Yoshino kuzu (Japanese arrowroot starch) into the soup as a binder just before boiling in order to prevent separating fat out of the fish and sesame from the soup. To determine a right amount of kuzu is crucial for this dish. I add a small amount of kuzu at a time not to spoil the smooth texture of the soup. I carefully check its texture to make it ideal, gentle thickness. The texture shouldn't definitely be rough or lumpy. After gloss appears on the soup surface, I finally add seasonings. At this moment, the soup only tastes salty out of anchovy. So, I add sugar and soy sauce into it. Ha-ha, it's very tasty.
I sauté sardine that was beaten with a knife until its texture remains and ginger with olive oil to make them mince. For seasonings, I add red miso produced by Matsuno Shoyu, located next to my restaurant, and a small amount of sugar into the mince. I continue to sauté all together until I smell the sardine. Completed!
I boil noodles in hot water for a minute and a half and then tighten them in ice-cold water. Then, I'm going to arrange all the ingredients into a soup bowl. For toppings, shredded green onion as a texture, chives as an aroma, and gingers as an accent are placed on top. Finally, sprinkle black seven flavor chili pepper, and sansho pepper on top. I think everything went well for this dish. This special Tantan noodle includes smooth texture of homemade noodles that easily slide down your throat, intense umami of sardine soup, and rich umami of mince that spreads through your mouth as you bite it. Please have the remaining soup together with rice for finishing it. I think that it becomes a very interesting noodle dish by adding the essences of Japanese, Chinese, and Italian cuisines.
Although I was asked to make a dish that is beyond the scope of Washoku, I'm very satisfied with this dish because I could present my style into the dish. I'm always aware of the outline of Washoku when I cook, but I want to present my style into my dishes by adjusting the essences of Washoku and my style, neither to bring out the original flavors of the ingredients too much nor to make these dishes too creative
18 Takagaminetsuchitenjo-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto
Opening hours: 17:30-20:00（L.O.）
Closed on Wednesdays (and irregularly closed)