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James Beard Award receiver, Nancy Singleton Hachisu is an expert of unique and authentic Japanese cuisine. Born and raised in California, she first went to Japan over 32-years ago where she now lives on a farm with her Japanese husband and their family.

On a quest to advocate for Japan’s disappearing food traditions, Nancy has written a series of books, Japanese Farm Food (Sept 2012), Preserving the Japanese Way (Aug 2015), Japan: The Cookbook (April 2018), Food Artisans of Japan (Nov 2019), and is currently penning a book on Japanese temple food. …

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Author of Food, Sake, Tokyo, an exploration of Tokyo’s food scene, Yukari Sakamoto is on a mission to demystify Japanese cuisine. Trained at the French Culinary Institute and the American Sommelier Association, she also passed the rigorous exam to become a certified shochu adviser. She teaches classes on food, wine, and shochu, and conducts culinary tours of Tokyo’s shops and markets. Born in Tokyo and raised in Minnesota, Yukari brings insights from both cultures to shed light on Japanese cuisine.

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Yukari Sakamoto

Aiste: What is the secret of Japanese cuisine?

Yukari: I think one of the secrets is fermented foods. In Japan, we have mould called koji and it’s used to make all our pantry ingredients: sake, soy sauce, mirin (sweet sake), vinegar amazake, miso, etc. Everything that we use in our Japanese pantry is fermented using this mould. And so we make dashi which is rich in umami, it also uses fermented katsuobushi (bonito flakes). Without fermented foods, the Japanese pantry and most of the cuisine that people know, would not exist. So I think that is the secret, hidden ingredient, or secret technique. …

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Dining out in Tokyo doesn’t always adhere to Western expectations. The customer is not always right and sometimes not always welcome. There are secret spots from the old-world kissaten coffee shops where you can still find people smoking, to restaurants with no-signage that operate on the second floor of a backstreet apartment block. But even the more prominent restaurants often require an introduction to be able to reserve. These places are not only hard to book and hard to find but often intentionally shy away from Western eyes, and mouths, in the belief that the cultural divide may not translate into the universal language of food. …

Here’s a list of my favourite books about Japan. They have influenced me and taught me a lot about Japanese culture: cooking, travel, design and art. Check them out. A great way to spend those cool Autumn evenings.

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Flavor and Seasonings: Dashi, Umami and Fermented Foods

by The Japanese Culinary Academy

COOKING · buy it from Amazon

It could be considered the bible of the Japanese cuisine. It’s written by Murata Yoshihiro, who is an icon in Japan, he is a chef of a legendary kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto called Kikunoi, also he is an author of many Japanese books and a director of Japanese culinary academy.

The book covers all the fundamentals of the subject, providing information that’s necessary to understand the cuisine and its cultural context. It features sections on: kaiseki; dashi and umami; Japanese soy sauce, miso, and sake for cooking; and much, much more. This book is really a must-read to understand Japanese cuisine and it’s secrets. …

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When you think of Japanese food, what comes into your mind? A glistening red and white striped prawn draped over a wedge of vinegared rice? Or perhaps a bowl of cloudy miso soup with tofu cubes settled at the bottom? When Japanese food is concerned, sushi, ramen or tempura have become clichés in the Western world. That doesn’t always communicate the depth of the Japanese cuisine and doesn’t answer the following question: why foodies and chefs from around the world have been so inspired by the Japanese cooking traditions?

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I was first attracted to Japan for its exquisite food, but my enduring attachment developed through a passion for the country’s culture, language and people. As I discovered different elements of Japanese cuisine, I realized that what fascinated me as much as the food were the people behind it, and their hard work and dedication. Like Masaharu Morimoto says, “Japanese chefs believe our soul goes into our knives once we start using them.” I’ve come to believe that all good cooking is a reflection of the chef’s spirit. Likewise,every restaurant, every dish and every ingredient has a human story behind it. …

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Yoshinori Ishii (left) while on a fishing trip

Imagine a simple technique, all in the twist of a wire. A technique with the potential to revolutionise fishing in the Western world. Dubbed Ikejime in Japanese, this method for slaughtering fish more ethically could also lead to a change in expectations of how fish meat should taste and age.

An unusual yet ambitious mission fit for an extraordinary person: Yoshinori Ishii. This elegant and discreet Japanese chef is not only bringing his Kaiseki — Japanese haute cuisine to the world but is showing us a more intelligent way to fish.

Currently, executive chef at Mayfair-based Kyoto-style Japanese restaurant Umu, Ishii’s quest to serve the finest fish took him beyond sourcing the best product available, to spearheading change around fishing methods in the UK. By frequenting fisheries in England’s South West Coast, specifically along Cornwall’s long peninsula where there is an existent tradition of carefully handling fish, Ishii found a supplier (the boss of a small boat line fishing company) who was able to emulate his method and thus meet his standard. And as a side-win, he put into motion the disruption of current fishing practices, through teaching local fishermen this traditional Japanese method of slaughtering fish that maintains the quality of the meat. …

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Screenshot from a video by Dani García

Brilliant article on Almadraba and tuna sustainability by Fernando Huidobro, the president of Andalucia gastronomy and tourism academy, who has kindly permitted me to translate it from Spanish and repost it. Some food for thought for all of us.

By Fernando Huidobro

No matter how many meanings the word “sustainable” may have today, the traditional trap net or ALMADRABA — gear for fishing Atlantic bluefin tuna — includes every single one because of an undeniable, stubborn and unquestionable fact: for the last 30 centuries or so during which the almadraba has been used it has sustained the world’s tuna population without contributing to the current savage, indiscriminate depletion of the species by overfishing. …

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Yukitaka Yamaguchi is, without any doubts, a very important man at Tsukiji market and one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met in Tokyo. If you have ever been to Tsukiji market, you might have seen him in his blue uniform, focused slicing tuna, making calls and serving such sushi masters as Takashi Saito as well as many other top chefs in Tokyo. Thirty-five years ago, Yukitaka Yamaguchi’s father, himself a tuna broker, asked his twenty-year-old son if he would like to start a company. Together, they built the Yamayuki Group. At first, the company worked mainly with frozen tuna; today, 70 to 80 percent of the fish Yamayuki handles is fresh. Under Mr. Yamaguchi’s leadership, the group has grown to include several companies: Yamayuki, a tuna wholesaler; Tsukiji Daitoyo, a general fresh fish retailer; Nozomi, a high-end fresh fish retailer for top restaurants; Yukiya, a fish retailer at the Tsukiji outdoor market; and Yamayuki Oota Shiten, a fish processor and distributor. …

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There is something beautiful and irresistible when Salt meets Fat. A perfect pairing to stimulate the deep appetite. When done well, there is a warmth, a total engagement of the palate, a consensus between texture and taste.

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Think of the Anchovy. Best consumed most simply, on rustic bread, a slash of butter, crowned by the oily jewel. A culturally significant delicacy, once considered peasant food, and now in certain varieties and preparations a stand-alone delicacy. Such as the famous Cantabrian variety, fished exclusively in Spring, from the port of Santoña in Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast of Northern Spain. Yes, size does matter, these larger than usual specimens are particularly prized. They also reflect a meeting of cultures: prepared using a salting process refined by Sicilians who arrived in the area in the late 1800s. Yet the history dates back much further to the days of Garum, a fermented fish condiment found in the cuisines of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Byzantium era. …

Cherry Clafoutis

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Traditional French tart by Richard Wilkins, the head chef of 104 Restaurant in London.

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Cherry Clafoutis

For the cherries:
450g best-quality ripe cherries stone removed
50g caster sugar

For the dish:
10g unsalted butter, melted
30g caster sugar

For the batter:
2 organic/free-range medium eggs
45g caster sugar
20g unsalted butter
20g plain flour
50ml whole milk
75ml double cream
1 pinch salt

Bake for 25 min in 180 C oven.

The original article is published on Luxeat.



Luxeat is a world-respected, international culinary blog, top restaurant guide and exceptional culinary events organizer.

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