4 Winter Ingredients Seattle Chefs Are Loving Right Now

By Jackie Varriano  |  February 16, 2016
Credit: Ruth Hartnap

Sure, it's been warmer than usual in Seattle lately, but it's still winter, and we are in the glorious Pacific Northwest where the season doesn’t mean months of frozen dormancy. Instead, we get delicate razor clams, tangy tiny kumquats, silky black throat perch and bright, crunchy pomegranate seeds. Even better are the chefs scattered around the city who are in love with what winter has to offer. From Ravenna to Ballard, here are four spots to go for of-the-moment seasonal ingredients and the chefs who love them.

Pomegranate at Golden Beetle

Jason Brzozowy, executive chef of Maria Hines Restaurants, is a big fan of this winter jewel. “There aren't too many other fruits around in the winter that are as versatile and delicious," he says. "They can be used in sweet or savory dishes, and the seeds provide great texture to finish a dish.”
What to order: Pomegranate makes a showing all over the Middle Eastern–focused Ballard spot, in the walnut and pomegranate molasses dip muhammara ($4), a roasted beet, arugula and pomegranate seed salad ($11) and the Foraged & Found pizza with smoked pumpkin, pomegranate seeds and mushrooms ($16).

1744 NW Market St.; 206-706-2977

Razor Clams at Salare

Right now chef Edouardo Jordan says he has been “super excited" about razor clams coming from the Quinault tribe. “I like to use ingredients that you don’t commonly see," he says, adding that he prefers to “support our Indian tribes, as this is their livelihood, and we want to keep that symbiotic relationship.”
What to Order: The next time you’re at the cozy Ravenna spot, look for Jordan’s version of a clam chowder ($27) made with sautéed razor clams, mussels, Manila clams, creamed leeks, celery, shiitake mushrooms and squid ink potato purée.

2404 NE 65th St.; 206-556-2192

Kumquats at Naka

Chef Shota Nakajima says kumquats remind him of the "movement of winter to spring — bright in color and super seasonal.” According to Nakajima, they're frequently used in Japan as a winter fruit.
What to order: Although the à la carte bar menu is quite nice, take your time at this sleek Capitol Hill eatery with one of the chef's tasting menus ($75-$170), where you can currently find kumquats cooked in rice vinegar and sugar, skewered and served as a side garnish to one of the Seasonal Bites dishes (for example, a seared and sous vide duck with soy reduction). Nakajima preserves the cooking liquid for the bar, where they use it in cocktails like the Novo Rogue with cachaça.

1449 E Pine St.; Seattle, WA 206-294-5230

Akamutsu at Shiro’s Sushi

According to chef Jun Takai, akamutsu (the Japanese name for the black throat sea perch) “can be harvested any time of the year, but it’s in its prime in the winter season. It’s oily in appearance, but very clean and fresh on the palate. Its richness makes it the king of otoro for whitefish.”
What to order: Sashimi or nigiri is the way to go at this Belltown restaurant. Be sure to ask your server, as it’s not always featured on the menu – or go omakase and let Takai fully take the reins.

2401 2nd Ave.; 206-443-9844