Food

The Sushi maker

SPRINGING A SURPRISE Chef Masaharu Morimoto  

For him cooking a Japanese meal is akin to an artist getting creative satisfaction while using nimble-fingered brush strokes on canvas. Meet Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who is responsible for making Japan’s traditional food popular in Delhi and Mumbai.

To weave magic in his noodles, rice and other traditional dishes, Chef Morimoto, synonymous as Iron Chef in Japan and the U.S., procures fresh ingredients mostly obtained from Tsuzukiji, a fish market in Tokyo.

He gets tuna, salmon, shrimps and crabs and combine them with his rare recipes and presents an array of gastronomical dishes.

The Chef was in Delhi recently to present his passion for food at Wasabi by Morimoto. This award winning Japanese restaurant was created in collaboration with him. As it was the 10th year of the restaurant in Taj Mahal Hotel, Chef Morimoto presented his stellar craft in rolling sushi, demonstrating that that there is more to Japanese food than meets the eyes.

Taking time out from his hectic yet absorbing masterclass, Chef Morimoto shared his experience of cooking Japanese cuisine.

Excerpts:

On how he made Japanese food popular in India

Fourteen years ago, I introduced authentic Japanese cuisine to Indians. Initially, to make Japanese food palatable to Indians was tough. The Taj group helped me in adjusting to Indian palate. Personally, I like Indian food but not spicy stuff. I respect and like the tandoori fish, meat and mushrooms. I like the way you make green, yellow, red curries. However, Japanese don’t use too much spices. We modified the menu to include vegetarian dishes and have used only a pinch of spice in dishes.

On foodies finding connections between their kind of food and foreign delicacies

I don’t think this is the right approach to discover food. If a traveller goes to Japan he tries to match what locals eat on a daily basis. All cuisines from different parts of the globe have independent cooking style.

On Indians experimenting with food

They have now started eating European and American food. I am honoured that there is growing fondness for Japanese food. Look at the eating habits of the young generation studying in Japan.

Our food is not just about sushi, sashmi and tempura. It has noodles, salads, pickles, steaming fish, noodles, pasta, tempura, tofu.

On what went inside the master class

During the master class, participants were inquisitive to learn the methodology of cooking our food. I told them that they have to ensure that sushi needs to have harmony between vinegar, fish and rice. And wasabi needs to be in between. It needs to be dipped with soya sauce and then devoured in one bite. But this needs to be done in moderation.

On health benefits of eating raw fish

It is healthy but depends how you eat it. Calorie wise it is healthy. If you are eating sushi in ginger and too much of soya sauce, then it is not healthy. In terms of culinary experience fish is better than meat. For me, making sushi is an art. It is not just about raw fish and vinegared rice.

On vegetarian options in Japanese cuisine

Wasabi is special and I make sure that I get fresh wasabi flown in from Japan. It is vegetarian and comprises roots of a plant. It is quite expensive. Tsukemono are picked vegetables which are soaked in sugar or a combination of vinegard sugar.

We have skewered food which is an amalgam of lotus root, mushrooms, green pepper and okra. We eat vegetarian tempura, tofu and pasta.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 10:07:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/the-sushi-maker/article19533538.ece

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