Starchefs Day One: David Bouley Fuses France & Japan


Following the panel on American Cuisine, David Bouley came to the main stage to present his approach to cooking  French style food with Japanese technique. Bouley who has had an illustrious career cooking as one of NYC's top chefs for at least the last 25 years, most of which has taken place at his eponymous restaurant, even as that restaurant has migrated through several locations, started with an essentially French repertoire. Over the years, the influence of Japanese cuisine has grown steadily on him to the point that his cooking is now largely a combination of the two cuisines. In this presentation he offered insights into his approach to cooking French with Japanese technique.

His initial preparation involved using black cod using Japanese ingredients and technique, but in a way he considers French. Below is a paraphrasing of some of his principle points.

  • Starting with black cod. As you know, miso is very tender and makes fish taste so moist (salmon with miso never seems to dry out)
  • Here we prepared a marinade with soy sauce and spanish pistachio paste – in Japan it would usually be sesame or miso
    paste. This paste has no sugar and it hasn’t been toasted – can be used
    in all kinds of cooking. Would be 2 pints of that marinade and put the
    black cod in the bath for about 20 minutes. Fattier fish would sit
    longer, leaner fish would bathe for less. Almond is also wonderful for cooking.
  • It’s
    now cooked to the point where the skin is very crunchy, and we’re going
    to put it on our buckwheat (very good for you, great grain), put some
    dashi into the buckwheat. Dashi is now being used all over the globe, including at some 3-star restaurants in Paris.
    As you can see, Japanese cuisine is influencing food all over the
    globe. Now we’re putting it into the oven and are going to make a

 IMG_6561 IMG_6566 IMG_6570

With the cod preparation cooking he proceeded to work on a dish of Malibu Sea Urchin Terrine with Creme Fraiche Sauce, Beluga Caviar and Fresh Kinome. For this dish he used a number of ingredients from the Japanese pantry including mirin, yuzu, dashi, sake, agar agar and kinome, a special Japanese herb not yet grown outside of Japan. To prepare the dish, he made chive oil , dashi and a creme fraiche sauce made by combining creme fraiche, yuzu, shallots, and chive oil. To make the terrine he combined and simmered the dashi, mirin and sake before blooming gelatin sheets and adding them to the dashi. He then mixed the agar agar with cold water before adding that also to the dash. He poured the liquid into a terrine mold at room temperature and just before setting, he added the uni to the terrine, allowing it to set. To plate the dish, he sliced the terrine and garnished it with additional uni on top, the creme fraiche sauce, caviar and kinome.


Bouley returned  to the black cod in the oven. He had egg yolk, tomato water and a bit of dashi  whipped on the stove, with  mustard added along with a drop of yuzu
and a drop of garlic oil for a sauce. He
added some of the crispy, smoky cod skin to the buckwheat along with a few
twigs of lemon thyme. The fish, removed from the oven, was  easily flaked. 
He iplaced the buckwheat in a bowl, followed by the fish. Putting on a foam and grinding up  black onion
powder on top, he made it look a bit like a bowl of charcoal. Bouley finished the dish
with a small dollop egg/mustard sauce right on top in the center, and then a few small  mustard flowers. He said,

is a dish that I think demonstrates a very healthy ingredient in
buckwheat and also a very different preparation of fish. It is itself a
dish that would be with purity and integrity respecting Japanese
ingredients and technique, but also having some fun, as we like to do
in America to make it light and playful."


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