2) What do you always have in your pantry for knocking up a quick meal?
Dried Japanese noodles – I love good quality Japanese noodles so much. My home town is very famous for soba noodles. For a quick day-to-day lunch or if I need a quick meal for my daughter, noodles are perfect to cook quickly and add leftover veg and meat, whatever you have in. I never get bored of them, as there are just so many variations and styles of cooking.
3) Do you have a favourite secret ingredient or cooking tip that you could share with us?
Koji – it is a type of mould very important for Japanese cuisine. Without Koji, you can’t make most of the major, core Japanese ingredients such as sake, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce and of course miso.
All of these vital ingredients are fermented with Koji and it is this that gives them their distinctive depth of flavour, a.k.a. umami.
I keep a mixture of koji and soy sauce, “Shoyu koji” which I use for everyday cooking. The blend is my own secret Umami sauce.
“…There are many different types (of miso) and occasions when you’d use one instead of the other. I love to make a simple, classic miso soup and also I use it for ramen broth…. “
4) Do you use miso in your cooking? If so, how do you use it?
Yes, all the time, almost daily. Miso is full of umami. I make homemade miso, teaching my students directly how to make it too. There are many different types and occasions when you’d use one instead of the other. I love to make a simple, classic miso soup and also I use it for ramen broth. You can also mix it with everyday ingredients such as yoghurt to make the most amazing marinade sauce. I use it to make a quick dipping sauce if friends are coming round for a drink. It reminds me of a classic Japanese Dad watching a baseball game on TV, drinking cold beer and eating cucumber sticks with miso paste in the summer.
5) Has your cooking changed during lockdown? What are you making that’s different?
I have been non stop working for the past few years. With over 200 students coming to my classes every month, lockdown has actually offered a welcome break. Especially with my daughter and husband.
I love cooking different types of cuisine and experimenting with local ingredients. I trained as a Cordon Bleu chef first and so it has been a chance to revisit some of those early recipes that I trained with and also my cookery books. My family seems to enjoy the change of cooking, a bit of variety and not just class leftovers.
6) What dish do you make the most at home?
I love to have a healthily cooked meal using less meat and more vegetables and fish during the week. I make lots of simple grilled fish using lots of herbs and spices.
7) Which restaurant do you miss the most?
Wright Brothers in London for excellent seasonal fish and seafood. Borough Market being my favourite for atmosphere and I’m looking forward to heading back there soon. A lively atmosphere and great energy. They focus on great, fresh ingredients supplied via Brixham and there’s a top selection of wine, very important for me too!
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