Japan on a platter

Master Chef Hirofumi Masaki, who was in the city recently for a food fare at Grand Chennai, shares Japanese culinary secrets

Published: 14th March 2018 10:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th March 2018 02:32 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI : I started cooking at a very young age. I was in class 1 when I lost my father, and was left with my mother and a younger sister. There were days when we would often share just one bowl of rice between the three of us. One day, I wanted to make something special for them and tried my hand at cooking, and they liked it. When I was 16, I started to work part-time at a nearby restaurant, and that is how my journey began. I love what I do. This is my first time to India. I have tasted Indian food before, as we have a couple of Indian restaurants back home in Nagasaki. I really love the taste, texture and flavours in it, I especially love to eat tandoori chicken, butter chicken and ‘naan’ a lot. 

In Japanese cuisine, our staple food is steamed white rice, usually accompanied with miso soup or pickles. The primary ingredient we use is seaweed (stock) — which is the heart of Japanese food. Apart from that, commonly found ingredients include soy sauce, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, etc. I have not visited a Japanese restaurant here in India, so I don’t know much about how it is cooked here. But I feel it is quite a challenge to get all the right ingredients down from Japan, and hence may be a different from the authentic food we serve back home. For this show, I have brought down all the ingredients from home, so whatever I cook here is authentic Japanese food.

Traditionally, in Japan, most of our dishes have either sea food or meat in them. However, I understand that there are a lot of vegetarians in India, so I have prepared some vegetarian dishes specially for them, I want them also to get a taste of Japanese food, so I have even made a vegetarian sushi. One of the substitutes we use to compensate for the non-vegetarian is soy bean paste. In non-vegetarian, we use a lot of beef and pork; beef is my most favourite meat to cook. 

In Japanese food, we also have different ways of cooking meat, especially beef — medium, rare and fully cooked. But when it comes to pork, it is just one kind — perfectly cooked. What I would love to try is a fusion of Indian and Japanese. Both have such strong flavours that by fusing the two, I am sure it would create something tasty. For instance, I would add like a piece of tandoori chicken inside the sushi and serve it!(as told to Thushara Ann Mathew)

Aradaki (Japanese fish)

Ingredients 
● Water 6ml
● Fish 3kg
● Kikkoman soya (light soya) 700ml
● Sugar 100gms
● Marine 100ml
● Ginger 50gms
● Usutu itta (ginkgo tree wood) 5nos
 

Method
Heat the water, add sugar and add fish, and bring it to fire. Now add the marine, ginger and top it up with the Usutu itta and allow it to boil. After it is done, check the seasoning and serve it hot.

Sushi

Ingredients 
● Sushi rice 3kg
● Sugar 360gm
● Salt 80gms
● Rice vinegar 540ml

Method
Wash the rice five times before cooking. Now boil the rice in the rice cooker. Let it immerse in the water in half a finger level. Let it cook in the rice cooker for 45 minutes. Now, make the mixture with sugar ,salt and rice vinegar, mix together with the rice and make the sushi.

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