2) What do you always have in your pantry for knocking up a quick meal?
Packets of instant dashi stock: dashi is THE essential stock in Japanese cuisine and with these packets, you can make it on the instant. Unlike the commonly bought dashi powder, I prefer to use the “tea bag” version which has bonito flakes inside. Just put the bag in a saucepan with boiling water and simmer for a couple of minutes. You’ll then have the perfect stock for your soups, sauces or marinade. I regularly use them when I make soba noodles, miso soups and even baby food (I cook vegetables in dashi stock without any other seasonings)!
3) Do you have a favourite secret ingredient or cooking tip that you could share with us?
Yuzu gosho (a yuzu citrus zest and green chilli paste) – It is so addictive! The yuzu gives this condiment a refreshing and uplifting flavour while the chilli brings heat to it. It goes wonderfully well with a teriyakidish, some grilled meat or a soup. I loved blending it in a dressing too for an unexpected fresh kick! It’s also perfect with sushi and sashimi.
“dashi is THE essential stock in Japanese cuisine… I prefer to use the ‘tea bag’ version which has bonito flakes inside… perfect stock for your soups, sauces or marinade”
4) Do you use miso in your cooking? If so, how do you use it?
Yes! I use it to make traditional Japanese dishes (such as miso aubergine, miso soups, miso marinade fish etc..) but not only: a spoonful of it added to a stew, and a sauce, or even a dessert (such as miso caramel), gives the dish an extra layer of umami. I also like to add it to butter or cream to give a richness, or to soups for depth of flavour. I guess you could call this fusion or just plain delicious!
5) Has your cooking changed during lockdown? What are you making that’s different?
For everyone, lockdown has been challenging on many levels and we all had to adjust… For me, cooking-wise particularly with a family of four including two young kids needing constant feeding all throughout the day! So I tend to cook very simple and easy recipes: nothing fancy but always practical and nourishing dishes. I found it helpful to make weekly meal plans so I can arrange for the delivery of the right amount of ingredients.
Luckily, I have been receiving weekly seasonal vegetable boxes (@riverford@namayasaifarm) packed with the best seasonal products. I’ll get inspired by the raw product, use a variation of cooking methods on it to make different dishes and rejoice in its different flavours! Seasonality is paramount in Japanese culinary tradition: nothing beats eating what Nature offers you at the ripe time.
“One of our all time favourite dishes which we make regularly is gyoza. We make it from scratch…”
6) Tell us something you recently made and how you made it.
Since the beginning of lockdown, we’ve been doing a lot of cooking as a family: recipes that everyone can enjoy and be a part of. The cooking teacher in me had to upload recipe-videos of these on my @atsukoskitchen Instagram, which were regularly gate-crashed by my avid assistant, my elder son Nicolo! One of our all time favourite dishes which we make regularly is gyoza.
We make it from scratch: the wrappers first which Nicolo has become an expert at rolling and shaping, then of course the filling (I use a lot of Chinese cabbage and pork mince). Then wrapping and cooking. A couple of top tips are make sure you chop your ingredients for fillings very finely and don’t put too much filling in the wrapper!
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