On August 25th, at Tokyo Solamachi, the restaurant La Sora Seed Food Relation Restaurant, which is 150 meters off the ground and on the 31st floor of the building, held an olive-fed beef seminar. The producer of this restaurant is Chef Masayuki Okuda, of the restaurant Al che-cciano in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture. For the event, he served original cuisine using olive-fed beef and vegetables from Kagawa.
The olivefed beef prepared and served was round, rump, shoulder clod, and loin. The following will be an explanation of how Chef Okuda prepared the four parts of the Olive-fed Wagyu Beef.
"Sanuki no Mezame", long asparagus from Kagawa and Olive-fed Wagyu fritters
Thinly sliced olive-fed round meat was salted, and then wrapped around the long asparagus from Kanagawa Prefecture, and then finished off with being fried. "Characteristics of the olivefed round include a smoothness of the texture and also in the fibers of the meet. The fiber is very thin and fine but it is never hard," said Chef Okuda. He chose peals of asparagus to compliment the main dish. When it is grilled, the taste becomes similar to that of corn. Black grains are made by putting salt inside the bamboo, and then cooking them in an iron pot to make what is called "charcoal salt". This charcoal salt has a slightly sour taste. Why would you use a charcoal salt containing acidity? Chef Okuda explained the reason. When a cow becomes an adult, the meat has umami of inosinic acid which dried bonito also has. When salt is added to the meat and left aside, the inosinic acid changes into glutamic acid (which has the same sweet umami component as kelp). "I added salt to the round meat, which has a glutamic acid taste, and wrapped it around asparagus. Inosinic acid has a sour taste, but glutamic acid has a less sour taste, so we prepared a charcoal salt containing sour taste. I believe when the fat of the Olive-fed beef, salt, and the sour taste of the charcoal salt combine in your mouth, the taste becomes like a dressing."
Braised consommé made with Kagawa's brand of large eggplants, "Mitoyo nasu".
"Since the rump meat is a part of the cow that moves around a lot, the balance of the acidity and fat content is outstanding. Moreover olive-fed beef fat from the rump area is very well-defined, which gives it a refreshing and delicious taste," said Chef Okuda.
After roasting the olive-fed beef rump meat once until the meat is soft and medium, the meat was baked in a grill pan, but only the surface was baked.
The Mitoyo eggplant from Kagawa Prefecture was fried and then simmered in consommé.
This Eggplant Agebitashi (a technique used in Japanese cuisine) was served with the grilled olive-fed beef rump.
The dish was garnished with sliced myoga (a type of ginger which has a unique scent and a bitter flavor which is often used as a condiment in Japanese cuisine).
"The finely textured rump meat should be cooked lightly. This way, the taste and texture of the meat with the fried eggplant contrasts well and it tastes more delicious. When the fat of the olive-fed beef is transferred to the fried eggplant soup, a wonderful richness is born," said Chef Okuda.
The third item served was a dish prepared with Olive-fed Wagyu shoulder clod.
Salt-Olive Shell Dough Pie Crust utilizing olive skins that Olive-fed cattle are fed
Last spring, Chef Okuda visited an olive grove on Shodo Island and Masaki Ishii's cattle farm which was also located on the island. There are four kinds of olives being grown on Shodo Island, and in the fall, those harvested are used to produce olive oil. Makers of olive oil used to be unable to use the olive skins in an effective way, they only used it as fertilizer. Ishii decided to focus on the skins. Ishii shipped Sanuki Wagyu beef (Kuroge Wagyu beef) that he had raised to the Kakogawa region wholesale market (in Kakogawa City, Hyogo Prefecture), etc., but because there were so many brand name kinds of beef, the price for Sanuki beef was stagnant and would not rise. He was bothered by the fact that the price of the beef would not rise. Ishii then had a thought. What would happen if you gave olive skins to Sanuki cattle? Olives contain an abundance of the delicious component of oleic acid. If cattle are fed olives skins, would the meat gain good marbleization?
In 2007, he decided to feed the cattle olive skins. The following year, one wholesale market worker looked at the beef that Ishii brought and said to him, "This meat has good marbelization. Why don't you try to sell it as Shodo Island brand beef?" Ishii began breeding olive-fed cattle confidently in 2009. The next spring, Kagawa Prefecture released the meat under the brand name of olive-fed beef.
Currently, Sanuki cattle are fed olive skins that have been roasted at high temperatures. They found out that by adding olive skins into the diet 2 months before the cattle are shipped, the glutamic acid of the antioxidant components and the umami components in the meat increased. As a result, even red meat such as round and rump become free of greasy taste and instead have a sweetness to them.
When visiting the olive-fed cattle farm of Ishii, Chef Okuda picked an olive and put it in his mouth. "It is tasty, and also has the flavor of a nut. It is something I want to use in my cooking," he said. At that time, Chef Okuda swore that one day he would try using these olives in his cooking.
Then, on this day, a dish using those olives appeared as the main dish, Salt-Olive Shell Dough Pie Crust. Chef Okuda named the olive skins "olive shells". The dish was made by using olive skins, wheat flour, and egg whites which were kneaded like bread dough, then wrapped the dough-like substance around the olive-fed shoulder meat. "I wanted to add an olive fragrance to the olive-fed beef, so I made a salt-pan style dish," said Chef Okuda. Usually, tough meat such as shoulder meat is not prepared in a block. However, Chef Okuda decided to cook this meat in a block. Why? "Shoulder meat contains a nice umami, but there is also sinew in it. However, if you slowly grill the meat, the sinew turns into gel and you can enjoy eating it. " Parts of the cow that move frequently, such as the shoulder pack quite a lot of taste and also have a complex taste.
"I believe lean meat of olive-fed beef is very tasty, so this is why round and shoulder, which are parts of the cow that are moving frequently, can show the real value of olive-fed beef.
The last item served was a dish prepared with Olive-fed Wagyu loin.
Risotto made of lentils and Kagawa Prefecture's original rice, called "Oidemai".
Oidemai is a rice brand that was developed in Kagawa Prefecture. Oidemai features a smooth taste which is different from the chewy texture of "Koshihikari", a popular brand of Japanese rice. The Oidemai rice was cooked with lentils and then seasoned with black pepper. The black pepper's pungent taste compliments the sweetness of the rice. Japanese rice becomes sticky when it is cooked. For that reason, like when making rice for sushi, I controlled the air temperature by cooling the rice so that the stickiness would not come out. Oidemai and lentils were placed on a plate, with sliced raw sirloin on top. After warm consommé was poured on the dish,thyme and chopped shiso leaves were added. "By pouring warm consommé over raw sirloin, it cooks the meats slowly and tenderly." explained Chef Okuda.
According to Chef Okuda, cutting olive-fed beef is very nice. There are other Japanese kinds of beef whose cross sections crumble like corned beef, but olive-fed beef is very nice to cut. "The plump meat of olive-fed beef is very difficult to crumble. It cuts cleanly. It feels similar to cutting tuna or other sashimi. Because the texture of the beef is smooth, I think that the water retention is good which makes it easy to cut," said Chef Okuda. Chef Okuda, who has eaten many olive-fed beef products, talked about its taste. "Olive fed beef is delicious red meat. It also contains a bit of unique astringency. This astringency becomes a habit. Because the fat and the astringency counteract each other, when eating Olive-fed beef, I feel a hidden umami that is different from other brands of Japanese beef. It is a taste you will want to savor in your mouth. I think that is the characteristic of Olive-fed beef."
For those who had experienced eating olive-fed beef before, and for others who were tasting it for the first time, thanks to Chef Okuda's originality, the food of the seminar left everyone with delicate sighs at the impressive and delicious food.