Rare ingredient adds to Taste flavour

22:12, Jun 20 2013
RARE TREAT: Kermadec Chef Anton Leyland with Katsuobushi - dried, fermented and smoked tuna - ready for Taste of Auckland.

An Auckland restaurant is charting new waters with a very special, fishy ingredient on the menu for Taste of Auckland.

Anton Leyland, head chef for Kermadec Fine, hunted the world for a block of Katsuobushi - a Japanese dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna.

After months of searching, Leyland found a manufacturer based in Osaka who could provide enough for his team to use at the four-day food festival, which kicks off today.

"It's pretty hard to find authentic Katsuobushi blocks. My supplier told me he had never seen it in New Zealand and that we were - to his knowledge - the only restaurant in the country using it. Apparently not even top Japanese restaurants have got them yet."

The ingredient is described as the hardest food in the world, and the Kermadec kitchen crew will use a special Japanese shaver to create wafer-thin slices to top the tuna tartare dish they will be serving at Taste, alongside Piko Piko, or the New Zealand fern frond, karengo and picked, compressed nashi pear.

Leyland said he was inspired to use the unusual product after working at top Sydney restaurant Tetsuya, where Japanese flavours were often combined with modern New Zealand and French ingredients.

"It's a beautifully exquisite smoky umami flavor due to the extensive smoking, drying and fermenting stages. The block form is as solid as a hardwood timber and the actual process can take from many months up to two years to complete."

While Leyland won't put a figure on the cost of the Katsuobushi, he said even though it was pricey, the taste was worth the investment.

WHEN: Thursday, November 15 to Sunday, November 18
WHERE: Victoria Park, Auckland

Auckland Now has a $200 voucher for Kermadec Fine to give away. To enter, like us on Facebook and then send an email to news@aucklandnow.co.nz with Kermadec in the subject line and your name, address, and phone number in the main part of the email. We will draw the winner next Wednesday - November 22.

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