"The thing that inspires me about Hong Kong is the history, but also the acceptance to try new things,” says James Cornwall, the executive chef at The Seafood Room. With fish and shellfish at the heart of what he does at the Causeway Bay restaurant, it was only natural that we met the New Zealander bright and early in the bustling Aberdeen Fish Market one November morning.
"I love going to the fish market, I love the craziness of it, seeing all the ingredients and what's in season,” says Cornwall. “Every time I go there, I see at least three or four things I've never seen before." During our visit, the chef was intrigued by the sight of a local dried yellow fish roe, which he said reminded him of bottarga. For his dish, this ended up being the finishing touch as it was finely shaved over his interpretation of a Hong Kong street food classic: curry fishballs.
"I remember when I first arrived in Hong Kong, one of my friends introduced me to fish balls."—James Cornwall
"I remember when I first arrived in Hong Kong, one of my friends introduced me to fish balls,” he recounts. “ The first thing I remember is the texture—the bounciness in your mouth, then you get the nice light curry sauce to go with it." Back at the restaurant, Cornwall set to work creating his own curry sauce—a more South East Asian-style inspired base with coconut milk and light spices—and fishballs made from Norwegian salmon and blue shell shrimp.
“My dish uses both local ingredients and Europen ingredients,” he explains. “I like to bring those two together and make a nice balance.”
Seafood Room, 26/F, 525 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; +852 3708 9668