“Look in the garbage”: an interview with chef Hamada

01 Sep 2017 in Food Culture

A winner of the Bronze Bocuse d’Or, Noriyuki Hamada is reputed for his gastronomic inventiveness. The chef of HOSHINOYA Tokyo shares his unique vision.

chef-hamada-portrait

You’re known to be very particular about your ingredients. Why?

For me, it’s essential to source naturally. When I lived in Nagano, I used to forage in the mountains myself – but now I’m in Tokyo, I delegate this to colleagues who think like me and know where to find the best ingredients. For fish, I talk to the fishermen every day to get a feel for the sea.

Your fish dishes are internationally acclaimed. What inspires you?

I like to work with undervalued ingredients – fish that’s rejected by Tsukiji fish market because it’s not the right shape or size.

My motto is “look in the garbage for ingredients”!

People throw things away because they can’t see value in them – but nothing is ever without value. For example, I found fish innards in the trash the other day – and used them in a fermentation to create a sauce with lots of umami to go with sashimi.

It’s about seeing the fish from multiple angles, not just as raw material for filets.

Japanese gastronomic chef

How do you create your menu?

Every day, I start by examining the ingredients. Then I think about what combinations work best, and how to structure the flow of the menu. The ingredients are never the same. For instance, a Spanish mackerel at the start of the season is completely different to the end of the season.

You need to look at the fish, its size, its fat content and adapt the recipe: maybe you need more butter in the sauce, for example. It’s about letting your creativity flow.

Menu in HOSHINOYA Tokyo

HOSHINOYA Tokyo restaurant

How do you adapt your menu to the seasons?

We define the year in four seasons, but actually nature changes every few days. When I lived in Nagano, I would go to the woods and find it was different compared to just two days before.

It’s the same with the ocean: in just a few days, it changes. So, my menu changes gradually over time, not just four times a year.

Noriyuki Hamada

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