Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food The South American Way

11.24.2015

Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara

It was not until the end of last year that I started to notice a type of cuisine called Nikkei when there was a boom of Nikkei restaurants opening in London. It is not a new cuisine but one where not many people known of it. The word Nikkei is derived from the Japanese word nikkeijin referring to Japanese people who migrated overseas and their descendants. It is fascinating to know Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, with the arrival of about 800 Japanese in 1908 to the present of 1.5 million Japanese living in Brazil.

The author Luiz Hara, is a food writer, the man behind one of the top London food blog "The London Foodie" and the hugely successful Japanese Supper Club from his home. The author's grandparents migrated to Brazil and he was raised in the Brazilian city of São Paulo. He moved to London 20 years ago working in investment banking before moving on to his dream of training at the culinary school of Le Cordon Bleu.

Deep-Fried Chicken Nanban / Nikkei Piri-Piri Poussi

Here, the Nikkei cuisine refers to the cooking of the Japanese diaspora with the usage of local ingredients but cooked in the Japanese way. For over the century, the cuisine has evolved megering the best of two cultures. Now with a popularity of Nikkei cuisine restaurants in London, maybe it is time to explore cooking Nikkei food at home.

Grilled Aubergines with Miso Dengaku & Mozzarella

I am fortunate to know the author himself personally and have sampled his supper club food on different occasions many times. His food never failed to amazed me. Predominately the food is home style cooking with a touch of French classic technique. The book features over 100 recipes, with interesting blend of Nikkei twists on traditional recipes to more simple and complex to salivating the page. The book is broken down into sections of small eats, sushi, tiraditos & ceviches, rice & noodles, soups & hotpots, mains, vegetables, salads & tofu and finally desserts. 

There will definitely be a recipe that will tempt you into making it. I decided to recreate a dish that I had at his supper club (above photo) before which is a clever twist on a very classic Japanese dish, Nasu Dengaku. It is essentially grilled aubergines with a miso glazed, what Luiz did was he added mozeralla on top and it was like a marriage in heaven (I am over exaggerating but it works brilliantly).

My interpretation on Luiz's grilled aubergines 

Grilled Aubergines with Miso Dengaku and Mozzarella


Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 small aubergines (eggplants)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
100g ready-grated mozzarella cheese
1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds, to garnish 

For the dengaku miso paste:
4 tbsp brown miso paste 
4 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp water 
4 tsp sugar

  • First, prepare the dengaku miso paste by mixing all the ingredients in a pan, warm until the sugar has dissolved and all the ingredients are well combined. Then set aside, the sauce can be made days in advance and keeps for weeks in an airtight jar in the fridge.
  • Wash te aubergines (eggplants) and pat them dry. Cut them lengthways, without removing the stems, into equal halves. Using a sharp knife, make criss-cross incise into the flesh of each half without tearing through the skin.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and preheat the grill (broiler) to hot.
  • Meanwhile, in a larger frying pan (or skillet) (with a lid), heat the oils until smoking hot. Lower the temperature to medium, place the four aubergine (eggplant) halves on top (flesh side down), cover with a kid and fry for 5 minutes. Turn the aubergines (eggplants) over, re-cover the pan and fry for a further 10 minutes. The aubergine (eggplant) halves should be very soft by this stage; use a wide spatula to transfer them a roasting tin (this time, skin side down).
  • Apply a thin layer of the dengaku miso paste over the cut side of the aubergine (eggplant) halves using a knife or teaspoon. Cover the aubergine (eggplant) halves with the grated mozzarella and reheat them in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the aubergine (eggplant) halves from the oven and transfer straight under the hot grill (broiler) for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and browned. Served immediately with a sprinkle of toasted white sesame seeds.
My interpretation of this recipe is slightly different with the use of Korean Doenjang which is similar to Japanese miso paste since I only had that on hand at home and omitted the sesame seeds which I did not have any. Nevertheless, it was still very tasty.

The book is available to buy on Amazon, published by Jacqui Small.
http://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781910254202/Nikkei-Cuisine.html

I was sent a copy to review by the publisher Jacqui Small.

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