Voyage for [Fukui Amaebi], the Future of Fishermen | Part 2

Publish-date: Apr 01 2022 Update-date: Apr 02 2022
Voyage for [Fukui Amaebi], the Future of Fishermen | Part 2

When asked about amaebi dishes, most readers would have sushi or sashimi in mind. However, amaebi is not limited to Japanese dishes and has even attracted French and Italian cuisine. The chef Matsushita of la clartē located in the village of Takeda Village, Sakai, Fukui Prefecture, is one of the chefs who admire the local amaebi 

Takeda Village is Matsushita’s hometown. With her husband engaged in a forestry business, the chef returned to her hometown and renovated the pre-school into a restaurant. The restaurant went viral for dishes made with the special wood-fire oven utilizing waste wood and now, even fans from other prefectures visit the place. 

What kind of amaebi dishes will the chef prepare us?
Voyage for [Fukui Amaebi], the Future of Fishermen | Part 2
“At first, as the restaurant is placed inside the mountain, I composed the menu mainly with vegetables and meat such as homemade sausage and didn’t use seafood. However, with an urge to convey the attraction of Fukui through my dishes, I decided to use amaebi and other seafood about two years ago” claimed Matsushita. 

Initially, she felt that procuring most of the ingredients in Fukui was unnecessary. However, as she embraced the bond of the local community, she eventually became close to the farmers who cultivate their vegetables with love and dealers who procure the best ingredients in the prefecture. Through that experience, she rediscovered the sophistication of Fukui’s ingredients and started using them intentionally. 
Voyage for [Fukui Amaebi], the Future of Fishermen | Part 2
Amaebi shrimp is one of the ingredients that she discovered through such a bond. 

“One day, the dealer that I order the ingredients regularly from recommended me amaebi from the neighboring town. Amaebi is a familiar ingredient for the local residents. It’s no exaggeration to claim it as an identity of Fukui. I used to eat sashimi as a child” the chef remembers. 

The best part of amaebi is the sticky texture and faint sweetness when eaten raw, and the instant pleasant smell when cooked. “Our bisque made by cooking the shell with the wood-fire oven is popular as well. The fun part of amaebi is the many pleasant tastes that can be discovered through dishes” the chef told us seemingly, with many ideas in her mind. 

This time, answering our request of using amaebi for the dishes, the chef prepared three creative dishes for us.

The Tastefulness of Amaebi Revealed by Different Approaches

 The Tastefulness of Amaebi Revealed by Different Approaches
The first dish was “Amaebi carpaccio.” 

Preparation was done in the following process: peeling amaebi and dressing it in olive and vinegar, then adding rich flavor with a small amount of local specialty, “pickled Japanese black leek” and “salted Japanese herb (shiso) seed.” The chef garnished basil oil couscous with cherry tomato, radish, and chopped celery highlighting the freshness of the vegetables. 

“The sticky amaebi taste is best enjoyed raw. Like French cuisine, I arranged the dish in a way that provides fulfillment with just a plate,” explained Matsushita. 

The faint sweetness and unique texture of amaebi, occasional umami flavor of pickled black leek, chewy texture of fresh vegetables, and couscous are superbly balanced together. 

Though various ingredients are put together, what lingers last on one’s mind is the sweetness and texture of amaebi
Voyage for [Fukui Amaebi], the Future of Fishermen | Part 2
“This is  a dish that I made because I wanted to utilize our signature wood-fire oven,” the chef told us as she brought us the next dish: “amaebi cake salé.” 

From the freshly baked cake comes a delicate scent. With a bite, your taste buds will sense a mellow and gentle taste. According to the chef, a good amount of mozzarella cheese is used for the dough. Adding little sugar to the egg, milk, and flour, the cake is completed only with the saltiness of cheese and amaebi, excluding excessive use of salt. 

Soft amaebi that is moistened in the cake blends perfectly with the dough and melts. Only the scent of amaebi lingers as the aftertaste. The dish conveys the gentleness and mellowness of amaebi.
Voyage for [Fukui Amaebi], the Future of Fishermen | Part 2
Before going on to the third dish, chef Matsushita invited us to the kitchen. What stands before us was the heap of freshly picked vegetables!

“Vegetables are procured from the farmers very close to the restaurant. Before selling them at the roadside station, the neighbor farmer would ask me if I need anything. I am very fortunate to be blessed with so many vegetables nearby. Not only is Fukui rich in seafood, but the area is also blessed with farm vegetables. The last dish will be vegetables and amaebi that was grown in Fukui,” smiled the chef as she went on preparing. 
Voyage for [Fukui Amaebi], the Future of Fishermen | Part 2
Finally, we were served this bagna càuda. The colorful vegetables are cooked in a way so as to draw out their best taste. What accompanies them is the fried amaebi. The sauce on the side is made by boiling amaebi’s head and shell with white wine and adding milk to it. 

The fried amaebi fills the air with a pleasant scent as the dish is brought to the table. The soft-shelled amaebi can be eaten from head to tail when it is fried. The heads and tails bring out the rich flavor and spread in the mouth. Dipping the vegetable into the amaebi sauce adds thickness and draws out its deeper savoriness and sweetness.

This time, we were served three dishes and were surprised by the variety of flavorful tastes created by the different ways of cooking amaebi.

“I think amaebi has a thicker savoriness than crabs. The fun aspect of cooking them is that they reveal different tastes according to the way it is cooked. It can be used in so many dishes,” claims Matsushita. 

You may discover the wonders of the amaebi dish for yourself at la clartē if you make reservations beforehand. Let’s go on a journey to discover the new taste of amaebi

 la clarté

la clarté

Open: Lunch 11:30 - 3:00 pm (L.O.2:00 pm) / Café  - 4:00 pm 
*Reservation is required for dinner.
Closed: Irregular. Please check at the store's Home Page for more information.
Average price: [Lunch] 2,000 JPY
Access: 64-31, Yamaguchi, Maruoka-chō, Sakai-shi, Fukuoka
Address: Map
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Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.
Publish-date: Apr 01 2022 Update-date: Apr 02 2022

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