Food and drink

World’s best dishes: Mataichi-no-shio salt

SHANE OSBORN travels 1,256 miles from Hong Kong to Fukuoka to discover the source of his favourite salt

Forty-five minutes outside Fukuoka, on Japan’s Kyushu Island, is beautiful open coast. I went there two years ago, before we opened Arcane, to find Mataichi-no-shio salt.

The Kobo Tottan salt farm was set up by two guys who couldn’t find any proper Japanese salt. The salt is made by pumping seawater over dried bamboo grass hung within a huge bamboo frame. Over 180,000 litres of water are used every 10 days. After around eight days you get this salty brown liquid collecting in pans underneath. It’s then put into vats, cooked over cedar wood and boiled down until you get three types of salt crystals – fine, course and large. The large ones are about the size of a HK$2 coin. That’s used as finishing salt.

The location of the farm is beautiful.

The reason it’s in this bit of Kyushu is that at Fukunoura Gyoko two waters meet. You’ve got the water that washes down from Mount Tateishi, full of minerals, and then the Genkai Sea. There’s actually a line where you can see the two currents meeting. Thanks to this the salt has this incredible minerality: like an artwork.

We use this Mataichi-no-shio salt to finish the fish dishes at Arcane. The salt crystals are like snowflakes. They almost look like diamonds.

Shane Osborn is head chef at Arcane in Hong Kong’s Central district

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