The creation of innovative dishes such as gin cured salmon belly, brown spiced sugar salmon, raw confit of salmon and tomato cured salmon signal the return of the highly coveted Ōra King Awards.
The finalists for the Best Ōra King Dish New Zealand award have been announced with chefs from Auckland, Wellington and Featherston making the final four. The annual Ōra King Awards, now in its fourth year, recognises outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King salmon.
The finalists for Ōra King Best Dish NZ are:
Himanshu Shaun Tyagi – Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill, Auckland
Dish – Salmon By Nature: Rogue Society Gin and spice cured Ōra King salmon belly with Granny Smith apple foam, tomato consommé jelly, crispy salmon skin, Lot eight oil and basil emulsion, dehydrated tomato skin, dehydrated chilli, Ōra King salmon roe, The Secret Garden herbs and home grown edible flowers.
Marc Soper – Wharekauhau Country Estate, Featherston
Dish – Chilean guava berry and brown sugar spiced Ōra King salmon, with smoked belly and yoghurt mousse, grapefruit, rhubarb and fennel salad, tree fungi crisps, spiced grapefruit reduction, soy, caviar.
Jinu Abraham – Hector’s Restaurant, Heritage Hotel, Auckland
Dish – (pictured above) Raw confit of Ōra King salmon, with yacon & apple slaw, caramelised cauliflower puree, avocado wasabi & coconut vanilla crumbs, pickled onions.
Ryan Tattersall – Cobar Restaurant, Wellington
Dish: Tomato cured Ōra King salmon, smoked celeriac aioli, tomato chutney, chargrilled celery, olive, sorrel, liquorice.
The competition is not complete until each of the four finalists’ dishes is re-judged by industry experts Geoff Scott and Anna-King Shahab. They return to the top four restaurants to sample each dish and to select the supreme winner. The judges mark each dish on presentation, taste, texture, technique, balance and the all-important x-factor.
New Zealand King Salmon general manager marketing Jemma McCowan says the competition is stronger than ever having received twice as many entries than 2015, and the fourth year of the awards have delivered four diverse and creative entries from regions across New Zealand.
“Entries have been whittled down from 63 and the Ōra King judges have spent the past four weeks visiting 10 semi-finalist restaurants from around the country to get to our final four,” Ms McCowan says. “The judges certainly have a tough job on their hands and we are extremely satisfied with the final four, yet finding it tough to predict who will be the overall winner.”
The judges commented that Shaun’s technique of gin curing ‘amplified the natural creaminess of the salmon’ and that Jinu’s dish had a ‘beautiful umami and sweet flavour’.
Marc’s dish had the ‘x-factor in bucket loads’ and Ryan’s tomato-cured salmon ‘intrigued and wowed the judges’, Ms McCowan says.
The winners of all five Ōra King categories are announced at the annual awards ceremony and celebratory lunch at The Nelson Club in Nelson on 11 October.