Japanese food has been a buzzword among elite gourmets for a while. Perhaps because it’s a combination of trend, health, price and taste, not necessarily in that order. It can be as bland as you want and as overpowering as your taste buds will allow, with the addition of soya, pickled ginger and wasabi, the green paste made from a horseradish-like root.
Sushi basics: Tuna can be replaced by Norwegian salmon.
Except Tempura, which is actually not native to Japan, their cuisine contains very little fat and is rich in Omega 3 oils. The good news is that authentic delicacies — Japanese dumplings (gyoza), Udon noodle, Tofu (beancurd), “line caught” fish (not mass farmed), Wakame, Nori and Kombu (forms of seaweed), Edamame beans — are everyday parlance now, from the supermarket to fast food to fusion fine dining. It is one trend I’m happy about. It does what is important for me — satisfies the taste principle and is healthy, too. And with more demand, the prices are going to come down.
One of my all-time favourite chefs is Japanese: Tetsuya Wakuda is a quiet man with an unmatched talent for combining Japanese artistry with French techniques. His restaurant in Sydney is now legendary and for several years now, has been in the “Top 10 restaurants of the World”, as rated by UK’s Restaurant magazine.
I recently met another man who achieved what Tetsuya did when I first tasted his food several years ago. Kiyomi Mikuni conducted a culinary masterclass in Singapore last month as part of the World Gourmet Summit. He presented two recipes, including a tartar (raw) of Tuna Tataki with Poached Quail Egg with vinaigrette of avocado oil, soya and yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit).
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have dared give a recipe for raw fish in a newspaper. Today, things have evolved and I have also come across a couple of distributors of Japanese products in India selling to hotels and in retail. So, here is Kiyomi Mikuni’s Tartar of Tuna Tataki (tataki means chopped fine). If you can’t find fresh tuna, replace it with Norwegian salmon, available in Mumbai and Delhi. In fact, SKR Foods in Mumbai also sells a fabulous salmon fillet, perfect for sashimi and any raw dish.
Tartar of Tuna Tataki with Poached Quail Egg with Vinaigrette of Avocado Oil and Soy Sauce with Yuzu flavour
For the tuna
For the dressing
8ml soy sauce
2g garlic, finely chopped
2g ginger, finely chopped
8ml lime juice
45ml avocado/olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the garnish
A few chives (or fine spring onion greens)
1 quail egg
2g black pepper, crushed
For the tuna: Finely chop the tuna. Peel cucumber, carrot and onion and dice finely. Combine the ingredients with tuna and garnish with parsley.
For the dressing: Combine the soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger, wasabi and avocado or olive oil in a bowl and mix roughly. The oil and other ingredients should remain separate. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Marinate the tuna with the dressing for no longer than 5 minutes.
To serve: Slice radish thinly into semi-circles. Cut chives into 4-inch lengths. Poach the quail egg. Arrange the tuna mixture in the centre of the plate and top with the thinly sliced radish, chives and poached quail egg. Garnish with crushed black pepper.
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