The Factory that Produces Katsuo-bushi (Dried Bonito Flakes), an Ingredient that the World is Beginning to Take Note of, and the Food Culture of Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture
Daniel, a British actor and director and Paddy, a popular Irish entertainer visited a katsuo-bushi (dried bonito flakes) factory located in Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture. Washoku, the traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese, has been attracting even more attention since it was registered as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the art of dashi (Japanese soup stock) lies at the heart of this gastronomy. On Kyushu Island, Nagasaki Prefecture’s ago-dashi (flying fish stock) has gathered national attention in recent years, and such dashi made from local ingredients around Kyushu has also begun to spark global interest.
Distinguished chefs Anand Gaggan and Goh Fukuyama prepared original dishes with Kyushu produce in this program.
Their respective profiles are as follows:
Gaggan Anand is the owner-chef of his eponymous restaurant, “Gaggan,” in Thailand. Born in India, Gaggan cooked for a former president of India and trained at El Bulli, which was once known as the most difficult restaurant in the world to procure a reservation at, and then he opened Gaggan in 2010. His restaurant immediately received recognition from gourmands around the world, and it was crowned the top of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for four consecutive years from 2014. It also entered the top 10 list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants the following year, further adding to his already illustrious career.
The other chef is Goh Fukuyama, owner-chef of La Maison de la Nature Goh in Fukuoka City, on the northern coast of Kyushu Island. A native of Fukuoka Prefecture, after high school he worked at long-established French restaurant Ile de France and wine restaurant Mercury Café. In 2002, Fukuyama opened La Maison de la Nature Goh in the Nishi-Nakasu neighborhood of Chuo Ward in Fukuoka City. He is the pride of Fukuoka and an up-and-coming chef whose establishment was selected as one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 3 consecutive years, 2018-2020.
These two globally-renowned men hit off immediately. Having launched a gastronomic project called Gohgan, which they took from their respective names, they carry out collaborative events across Asia such as in Seoul and Bangkok, in addition to major cities in Japan. What is more, they are planning to close their respective restaurants and to open a new establishment with this name together in Fukuoka City.
Gaggan Anand (left) and Takeshi Fukuyama (right)
These two men meticulously explain everything from their perspectives as world-class food professionals – from the flavor of katsuo (bonito), to how it is cut up, to the process of the production of katsuo-bushi (dried bonito flakes). Thus begins a very extravagant tour.
The first step is called namakiri, which is chopping off the head and removing the entrails of each fish
Serious expressions listening to the explanations of the chefs who have wowed the world
Shajuku is the process of cooking the chopped katsuo in boiling water
Earnestness and laughter interwoven throughout the passionate explanation on katsuo-bushi
“How long and at what temperature is the fish boiled?” “How many fish can be cut up in one day?” Questions fly about the factory as some of the workers join the group. The four visitors’ excitement gradually heat up as there are secrets in every process to draw out the delicate umami, as can only be expected of such an authentic katsuo-bushi manufacturer.
Kyushu Ingredients and World-renown Chefs Co-star in Shimadu Shigetomisoh
Determining Produce and Seasonings in a Short Time and Creating Dishes From Inspiration
The objective of these two busy chefs is to prepare a special meal with Kyushu ingredients for Daniel and Paddy who have come all the way from the UK. What will they come up with?
About Manor House Shimadu Shigetomisoh
Hisamitsu Shimazu (romanized as “Shimadu” in the venue name) was the younger brother of Nariakira Shimazu, the 11th lord of the Satsuma clan in the 19th century, towards the end of the Shogunate era of Japan. He was also the father of the 12th lord, Tadayoshi (also known as Shigehisa). This Lord Hisamitsu’s country residence was ultimately the home of the 21st lord Uzuhiko Shimazu (Lord Hisamitsu’s third son) of the Shigetomi Shimazu clan and his wife Noriko (Lord Nariakira’s fourth daughter), and after approximately 150 years, it was renovated as Manor House Shimadu Shigetomisoh. This historically significant and stately property is also the former site of the country residence of the Imaizumi Shimazu clan, which was the birth family of Tenshōin, who formerly as Princess Atsu was the official wife of Iesada, the 13th shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate.
Corridors that Permeate with History and Dignity
The grounds comprise more than 4000 tsubo (approximately 13,200 square meters), which includes a spectacular Japanese garden with a beautiful waterfall, as well as a café with a panoramic view of Kinkō Bay and Sakurajima, a volcano that remains active to this day. A restaurant operates on certain days, so visitors can stop by regardless of whether a wedding is being held on site. In this sense, this is a formal but at the same time familiar place that holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Kagoshima prefecture.
Numerous, national treasure class cultural properties: Spaces where the past meets the present and the Japanese meets the Western in natural harmony
Shin’ichiro Miyamoto, Head Chef who is deeply familiar with Kyushu produce
Head Chef Shin’ichiro Miyamoto, the pride of Shigetomisoh, worked at a hotel in Kagoshima City before studying under Hiroyuki Sakai, who is also known as the Iron Chef of French cuisine in Japan. Later, Miyamoto became head chef of Shigetomisoh when Sakai was asked to serve as its culinary supervisor in 2006 and he strongly requested Miyamoto take this position. Head Chef Miyamoto considers Kyushu as a single region (instead of as the seven prefectures that it constitutes), and he utilizes ingredients and seasonings from around the island to offer French flavors rooted in the soil of each region. His principles have spread far and wide, such that he now provides dinners onboard JR Kyushu’s luxury Cruise Train “Seven Stars in Kyushu.” He is the epitome of the professional of Kyushu cuisine.
Kyushu is a treasure trove of foods: Head Chef Miyamoto is thoroughly selective about choosing local produce and freshness
Joined by Head Chef Miyamoto in a supportive role, the three chefs weave together a lavish collaboration
Dishes made by the three chefs are laid out in front of the two visitors
The appetizer is provided by Head Chef Miyamoto
Daniel and Paddy’s excitement increases immediately upon eating Head Chef Miyamoto’s appetizer. Gaggan and Fukuyama’s creations follow, the first being a gorgeous dish of a bite-sized monaka (a traditional sweet sandwich of wafers made from mochi, a rice cake made from glutinous rice) topped with a kind of purple jelly. It was produced with pure inspiration and has no name. Bonito was blanched, chopped, and smoked with dried bonito flakes, then various other ingredients such as kabosu citrus, and guava, and seasonings such as white wine vinegar were blended, filling the center of this monaka cracker with the flavors of Kyushu.
This lovely, exquisite, jewel-like dish leaves everyone speechless
Paddy takes a big bite, luxuriating in the aromas and flavors that permeates the palate
Next comes two hot pots – earthenware and blue. Apparently, two courses are to be served simultaneously. When the hot pots are placed in front of Daniel and Paddy, the lids are removed to reveal Matsutake Gohan, which is rice cooked and seasoned with matsutake mushroom and typically represents autumn cuisine in Japan, and curry, Gaggan’s signature dish.
Matsutake – a rare mushroom produced in small quantities but at premium grades in Kyushu – is used liberally
Indian curry filled with produce from all over Kyushu
The matsutake rice and the curry are served on separate plates
The rice and curry, which are usually served together in Japan, are served in separate dishware so that the aroma and flavors of the matsutake rice can be enjoyed first. Once the each incredible dish is savored, then the diner is invited to find out what kind of flavors are synchronized in the mouth when the two foods meet. Curry, a dish that represents India, and matsutake rice, the apex of Japan’s renowned rice culture – this combination is rather like a perfect expression of the gastronomic worldview that is created by the merging of the strengths of the two chefs who respect one another’s fundamental culinary cultures at the foundations of their lives. There is little need to explain the flavors of this collaborative curry, because Daniel and Paddy’s faces say it all as they eat.
Daniel and Paddy can’t help but chuckle as they savor the symphony of flavors
Complementing the two chefs with firm handshakes and embraces
Daniel and Paddy’s visit will most likely convey to the rest of the world the wonders of the collaboration of world-class chefs who add their unique touches to maximize the deliciousness of their ingredients, the potential of Kyushu produce that comprised the basis of this collaboration, and the atmosphere and hospitality of Shimadu Shigetomisoh that encompassed the stage of this teamwork.