Here are all of the ingredients I’m using:
Horse meat, tuna, capers, apricots, shallots, chives, Japanese pepper leaf, natto, mayonnaise, and chili pepper (harissa).
First I’ll add the natto to chicken broth (brodo) along with a 1:1 ratio of water. I’ll boil the mixture until I get a syrupy texture. The syrupy natto will then get deep fried in 180 degree oil. It tends to break up so you have to be careful when you do it.
Q: Wow, so you’re using natto!? Where did you come up with that idea?
In Kumamoto I ate a dish made up of natto, horse meat, and egg yolks. So, when I was coming up with the tartare I started thinking about how good the natto paired up with the horse meat was. That’s how the idea came about.
In Italy it’s quite rare to find the opportunity to eat dishes with raw ingredients. In general I think that food started with the cooking process. So at first I tried cooking around the edges of it, but the in end I figured that the tartare should be raw and left as is. That’s why I use raw horse meat.
I finely cut down each of these ingredients and match them up together.
Q: How do you decide which ingredients go together?
Well, horse meat was the first thing I thought of when I started. Sometimes horse meat is referred to as “sakura niku,” which invokes the spring season.
That’s how I got thinking about using horse meat as the central theme of this dish.
I’m a bit of a slow worker, and I start off taking a lot of time to think about the meaning of each ingredient I’m using.
Once my ideas formulate and become whole I’ll get started on a prototype dish.
I spend a lot of time just thinking about it. My mind is always centered on food.
Q: Is it ever a burden to focus so much attention on food like that?
Half the time it’s a burden and the other half of the time it’s a real pleasure. It’s such a thrill when my ideas come to fruition. It’s even better when I get something that surpasses my expectations.
The cut up horse meat and tuna get mixed with mayonnaise and a fish sauce made from sweetfish.
The horse meat has an exceptionally strong flavor, so the tuna is meant to soften it. Those two ingredients come together perfectly, so I like to take advantage of that bond. The tuna is very familiar, which helps makes the dish more accessible.
I need a foamy sauce, which is where the milk and fresh cream come in. I also add in horseradish and soy lecithin, then heat it all together.
Lastly I’m going to finish everything up and plate it.
The froth that I made earlier from heating up milk and fresh cream is going to go on top.
I add on some horseradish shavings and top it with Japanese pepper leaf as well. It’s done after that.
When I came up with this dish I wanted to make something with a nostalgic sensibility that really tugged on people’s heart strings. That’s the main idea that inspired me to make it.
I wanted to capture that feeling where the flavors are fresh and novel, but somehow nostalgic and familiar at the same time. Basically I want the dish to come across in a way that’s not too strange or unfamiliar.