“People eat with their eyes first, and then their nose. If something looks great and smells great, your brain is already saying it’s going to taste great” - Chef Michael Pataran.
It was wonderful experience watching the masterful hands of Chef Michael Pataran at work on a recent culinary event “Language of Aroma” hosted by Vancouver based tea purveyor Tealeaves (https://www.tealeaves.com/). The informative event is a part of Tealeave’s ongoing culinary series that explores the colour, aroma and taste of tea. Consisting of a string of collaborations amongst world-class Chefs and mixologists, we were lucky to witness a live culinary demonstration by Chef Michael Pataran, the newly appointed chef of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.
As a seasoned chef bestowed with multiple industry accolades over the last decade, Chef Michael had more than a few tricks up his sleeves when he was presented with the challenge to create a dish that infused the aromatic scents of Tealeave’s newly launched Jasmine Floral Green tea. To keep things interesting, the theme of the dish was to be “Love”.
The resulting creation was a visual spectacle called “Tentacle and tea” - a delicate combination of tea marinated octopus cooked 2-ways, handmade squid ink soba, sake gelee and braised daikon.
When asked why octopus was chosen as an ingredient to highlight the theme of love, Chef Michael expressed his love and respect for the emotionally intelligent creature, and praised its versatility to adapt to various worldly cuisines. “Octopus is like the tofu of the sea. It can be flavourless and bland if not handled correctly, and needs a lot of attention put towards it.” says Chef Michael. “A lot of times you will have octopus and it’s either very tough, or it’s flavourless. To get both can be very tricky, so it has to be respected”.
The dish emphasized on fresh, local ingredients and oceanwise seafood - using condiments like gourmet kelp flake sea salt from Vancouver Island Salt Co and sake brewed in a local distillery. The octopus was prepared beforehand using a traditional Japanese technique that allowed the meat to acclimate to room temperature overnight after simmering for 40 minutes. “This prevents shocking the octopus, which usually becomes tough if it is taken directly out of the boiling water” explained Chef Michael.
The cooked octopus is then bathed overnight in a concoction of spices and condiments, including “momoji oroshi” a Japanese grated daikon with red chilli. A brief sear on the grill after gives the tentacles a slight charred finish, adding another dimension of flavour to the dish.
The second part of the dish consists of a round, tentacle filled terrine. A delicate cucumber wrap holds the tentacles together while bringing a touch of colour to the dish. A dollop of deep green shiso-wakame puree was combed out skillfully on the plate, giving the terrine a lovely and flavourful base.
The highlight of the demonstration was the final step, where a smoking gun port was used to infuse the scent of the floral jasmine green into the dish. A cloche was used to trap the smoke, allowing aromatics to infuse into the food before the cloche was uncovered in front of the guests - releasing the smoke in a dramatic, table-side presentation.
When we were given the chance to taste, the grilled octopus stood out with intricate layers of flavour and texture.
It was a wonderful experience filled with culinary insights that gave us a fresh perspective on the importance of aroma - whether for tea or culinary. We thank Tealeaves for giving us the opportunity to experience this culinary demonstration with Chef Michael Pataran from Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.