Dai Fukasaku competed at the 11th annual Vancouver Aquarium Chowder Chowdown on Feb. 21, where 13 top Ocean Wise chefs went head-to-head for the title of Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion.
Although Fukasaku’s third time competing as a finalist didn’t result in a win, he said his dish bowled over attendees and inspired a new feature for his Prince Rupert restaurant.
“We did much more than 650 samples in two hours and we had the longest line in the aquarium,” Fukasaku told the Northern View Tuesday, Feb. 26.
“We got lots of praise and we thought we were going to win something because of all the comments the audience left us with, but we did not win anything.”
Sometime next week, Fukasaku will see if the labour-intensive “northwest scallop sake kasu umami chowder” wins the hearts of locals as a feature item at his namesake establishment.
The new dish, intentionally created for the chowdown, features Great Bear scallops from Coastal Shellfish, harvested across the harbour from his restaurant.
In fact, Fukasaku said his chowdown chowder was the first application of the First Nations-owned aquaculture business’ adult scallops since they acquired a shellfish processing licence.
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Wow, did we ever have fun with Chef Dai @fukasakupr at the @vanaqua @oceanwise #chowderchowdown. The Chowder was so complex it needed a briefing. Dai dried our #scallops, with chantrelle mushrooms and handpicked seaweed from Haida Gwaii. Then made that into an #umami rich rice. Over that he poured a broth made from Granville Island Sake Kasu, more species of mushrooms, octopus, potatoes from Terrace and pickled #wasabi stems from Malcolm Island (and more). We then finished with fresh #GreatBearScallops that had been marinaded for almost a week in miso and then seared before serving. Completed with a pinch of Vancouver Island sea salt. Judges presentation bowl was a special scallop themed bowl from @kaminskipottery in Bella Coola Incredible. What a happy group of folks at the event. And @vanaqua staff, @nedbell, @stacybites and rest of culinary team were super accommodating for the north coast team. Major shout out to our friends @wheelhousebeer for the smoky porter that paired with Dai's chowder and help repping the North's contribution to #sustainability. #oceanwiselife #sustainableseafood #Princerupert #Metlakatla #tidetotable #shellfishaquaculture #seafarming
The marinaded scallops top a rich base made from milk and kelp stock, flavoured with miso and sake kasu, a byproduct of sake.
“It adds really nice flavour and richness to the chowder,” Fukasaku said of the living enzyme.
The scallops and broth are accompanied by scallop rice made with dehydrated scallops, handpicked Haida Gwaii seaweed and chanterelle mushrooms.
“It was such a fun event and I got to talk to some well-known, sustainably-minded chefs,” Fukasaku said, naming Robert Clark and Ned Bell.
He said the Ocean Wise chefs strategized on how to connect fishermen directly to restaurant tables, especially in Northern B.C.
“Even though lots of fish are caught right here, everything’s sent to Vancouver first so it’s tough for me to get fresh seafood,” Fukasaku said. “We talked about my problem and how they can support my practice of connecting local seafood and local harvest to the tables.”
He said he got some good advice from the like-minded chefs that he will be following up on in pursuit of his farm-to-table philosophy.