PASSION of Perfection

April 27, 2017

【It inevitably inspires our respect for nature】Abalone slice cooked in butter is one of the dishes that have captured the hearts of many patrons as ...MORE

April 27, 2017
【It inevitably inspires our respect for nature】

Abalone slice cooked in butter is one of the dishes that have captured the hearts of many patrons as a specialty cooked by Executive Chef Olivier Chaignon since 2013, when L’Osier was renewed and opened. This dish becomes available as the appetizer for a course dinner only when “the very best Japanese black abalone” of the year is delivered. In response to inquiries from clients who cannot “wait to taste it again,” it is a highly popular item added to the a la carte menu.

The encounter between Olivier and the Japanese black abalone occurred at a grilled-dish restaurant he says he visited shortly after arriving in Japan. The abalone grilled on a hot iron plate in an instant impressed him with quite a different texture and taste from small abalones landed in small quantities in Bretagne, France. Its texture and taste caused a sensational impact on his senses like he had never experienced before.

The “black abalone of Japan’s Boshu district” that is highlighted at this time boasts of by far the best quality among all abalones gathered in Japan. It is a really rare ingredient, weighing 500-600 grams a piece, including the shell. It goes on sale in a limited market only between May 1 and September 15, when the Chikura area in the southern Boso region, renowned as home to the black abalone, opens the season of female professional divers collecting abalones. The piece as heavy as 500-600 grams, as mentioned, changes hands at an extraordinarily high price even in the local fishing village as something that requires as long as 10 years to grow up to that size. Once shipped out, the rare ingredient draws buyers scrambling for this treasure.

At this time of the year that suits its landing, the black abalone collects nutrients actively toward the egg-laying period in October. It absorbs minerals from kelp drifting in abundant quantities over the seabed and grows up into a high-quality thick body. Abalones generally slim down when heated. But the “black abalone of Japan’s Boshu district” stays plump even after being heated. It maintains adequate elasticity yet remains moist and soft, one of its defining features.

Here comes Olivier’s representative specialty: abalone slice cooked in butter flavored with shiso flower creamy wheat and seaweed, and a sea urchin broth sauce. It is one of the dishes that the chef wants his clients to enjoy at this time of the year, when this select ingredient finally comes by. To maximize the delicate taste of the “black abalone of Japan’s Boshu district,” it is steamed in a typical Japanese cooking method at the first stage by using horse radish and Japanese sake. It is subsequently mixed with jus de coquillages, or bodily fluids from shells, in the state of pochee. Thanks to the combination with jelly lichen in bulgur (parched/crushed wheat) risotto underneath, and the sea urchin broth sauce based on shell fluids, the dish is enhanced with the smell of the sea and Umami taste, as well as profound flavors and textures, all elements interacting and overlapping mutually inside the mouth. As a result, abundant and plump gifts from the sea unfold in an in-depth marriage with each bite.

Olivier Chaignon’s deep thoughts of the “black abalone of Japan’s Boshu district” are found in the following statement.

“The encounter itself with this ingredient makes me feel happy. It’s one of the ingredients that inevitably stimulate my respect for nature. I cook it with gratitude for the blessings of the sea from the moment I touch it in the kitchen to the moment I arrange it on the plate.”