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Friday, 13 February 2015

Small boats to supply sashimi - widening opportunities for inshore Cornish fishermen

Japanese sashimi could open up a new market for Cornish dayboat fisherman. Yoshinori Ishii, executive chef at Mayfair’s Umu, was among 12 chefs and restaurateurs who have met with day boat fisherman on a recent trip to Padstow. Mr Ishii, widely regarded as the best Japanese chef in the UK, showed how Cornish fishermen could meet London’s demand for top quality fish often used raw for sashimi.



The meeting was set up by Matt Chatfield, the man behind the Cornish Connection that matches Cornish producers with chefs and restaurateurs in the capital. Cornishman Matt now lives in the city and, in conjunction with Launceston transport company, Logisthicks, runs a business supplying the best Cornish produce to top name London restaurants and gastropubs. 

He said: “I think this could really open up some exciting possibilities. “The way we operate means that we can now be at Padstow at 4pm in the afternoon when the boats come back in and have their produce in London by 10pm and on the plate in less than 24 hours. “We have to be doing something that makes our produce better and could mean fisherman are paid an addition £3 or £4 per kilo for their catch.”

Mr Ishii is already supplied by Truro farmer’s market favourites Kernowsashimi, operated by father and son team Chris and Dylan Bean from the Lizard. He is looking to expand his list of suppliers, particularly those who can use the Ikejime method of catching and preparing fish which involves killing the fish rather than allowing it to die. It is said to produce fish with the supreme flavour and texture needed for preparing sashimi and sushi, as well as other non-Japanese dishes that call for the best quality ingredients.

Dayboat fisherman Johnny Murt supplies spider crab, crab and lobster to London from his vessel Homarus. He said: “I think that the Ikijime technique is achievable but we do our best to take care of our fish anyway. “The most exciting aspect for us is to be able to get our fish to the suppliers within 24hours which is certainly good for the restaurants and for us in attracting a higher price.”

Mr Ishii is hoping that other chefs will increase the demand for this type of fish, making it viable for fishermen to invest in the equipment needed to make the technique possible.

Dylan Bean, who supplies to the London market, said: “Currently the Japanese sashimi market is very small and only accounts for around 5% of our business, the rest is to restaurants serving other cuisine. What Umu is doing is very admirable in that it is trying to source local produce that can be used in Japanese cuisine that typically uses specialist imported ingredients.” 

Cornwall Food & Drink helped plan the trip to Padstow, which included a special visit to the lobster hatchery to hear about their buy one, set one free initiative, and dinner for all the visiting chefs at Margot’s restaurant.

Many of the chefs who made the trip are supplied by these producers via Matt Chatfield’s network including Matthew Stevens and Son, Philip Warren Butchers of Launceston and The Modern Salad Grower from St Martin’s by Looe.

Mr Chatfield said: “Everyone who came was blown away with what they saw and tasted.”

Full story courtesy of the Western Morning News