From fragrant mikan oranges and succulent snapper to aromatic sake, Ehime’s fresh cuisine appeals to every palate.
Hosted by Ozawa Canada Inc. with Ehime Prefecture and JETRO (Ehime), the Ehime-Japan Food Fair was held March 19 at Markham’s Zen Japanese Restaurant. A renowned executive chef from Ehime, Daisuke Morizane of Hotel Grand Foret, in cooperation with Zen Japanese Restaurant’s Mr. Takeshi Sato and Mr. Seiichi Kashiwabara, presented Ehime’s unique cuisine to an eager and hungry audience.
Upon arrival, guests were greeted by the sweet ambrosia of mikan oranges while the sun streamed through dozens of colourful sake bottles, their reflections dancing across the walls like beautiful stained-glass mosaics. Dignitaries, leaders of the Canadian Japanese restaurant community and the media all gathered to this food extravaganza to sample the best cuisine that Ehime, Japan, has to offer.
The first taste of Ehime showcased the freshness of the region’s rich fishing tradition. The elegant and well-balanced Shinsei-Daiginjo Muroka Shizuku Shibori sake from Ishizuchi brewery was paired with a quartet of sashimi, featuring Japanese snapper, hamachi toro (young, farmed yellowtail belly), mikan hamachi, and fatty buri (mature, wild yellowtail). Fresh, delicate seafood continued to be a strong presence throughout the afternoon, with grilled snapper ochazuke (rice in a tea broth) highlighting the fish’s subtle sweetness, and Ehime’s soul food, jakoten, a popular dish of peppery fish cakes. Next, hiyogi scallops served in a luscious barley-miso butter and Uwajima snapper dusted with sesame and served on a bed of chirashi sushi rice with shrimp, fresh sweet peas, lotus root, shiitake mushrooms and tamago (egg) delighted the senses. The meal was served with Ishizuchi’s handcrafted Junmai Daiginjo Funa-Shibori Muroka sake, winner of the IWC Category Gold 2017. The subtle sweetness of this light, fruity sake brought out the ethereal nuances of the Uwajima snapper.
Not to be outdone by Ehime’s exquisite seafood, Chef Morizane created a number of hearty dishes flaunting the mouth-watering vegetables of the region: Iyo-Bijin taro root and shiitake mushrooms in a savoury citrus glaze made from Ehime’s own daikon radish and mikan oranges, served with Ishizuchi’s semi-dry Junmai Ginjo Yamada Nishiki Muroka sake, and a shrimp paste and bottarga mullet roe sandwich made with shiitake tempura, and served with Ehime’s own sea salt and lemon.
The star of the afternoon, however, were the mikan oranges. Served simply with a sake jelly, a light dusting of edible gold flakes and Ehime kiwi, four varieties of mikan oranges shone: iyokan, blood or- anges, kanpei and setoka. Each variety brought its own unique characteristics to enhance this simple, yet elegant dessert. The mikan oranges were also incorporated into Zen’s own mikan pie, a light and creamy tart that emphasized the sweet fragrance of the oranges. The Iyo-Bijin taro root returned as a light chip accompanying a creamy sea salt ice cream reminiscent of a summer day on the beach.
As Shikoku Prefecture’s trade centre, Ehime exports more than $9 billion in goods worldwide every year. Look for cuisine and products from Ehime in your local Japanese market, and experience the enticingly fresh seafood, refreshing sake and delicious aromatic mikan for yourself.