Miso Tasty asked Londonbased photographerYuki Sugiura, about food photography, miso cooking and favourite restaurants.

1) Tell us what you do.

I am a food, interior and travel photographer based in London. I work for various editorial and commercial clients across the world, such as Waitrose, M&S, Financial Times, New York Times, House & Garden, etc. My most regular food work is published in the Guardian Feast magazine every Saturday. I also shoot many cookbooks and I was lucky enough to shoot the Miso Tasty cookbook with Bonnie a few years ago too.

2) What do you always have in your pantry for knocking up a quick meal at home? any secret ingredients?

Good instant stock cubes (chicken, vegetables) or dashi bags to make quick soup as I love soups! Various Miso pastes are also important for my quick miso cup soup which I don’t even bother using dashi. I just add some bonito flakes with miso paste and pour boiling water in a mug. And tinned tomato – love tomato sauce.

3) How do you juggle eating healthily and working on location and do you get to sample all the food you shoot?

As you might have guessed, as a food photographer I get to eat the most amazing food on regular bases and often eat too much good but rich food. I always like to try everything I shoot or what I cast my eye on so I never hold back. I try to balance my diet by eating light and healthy food with plenty of vegetables when I can at home as much as possible but I am not a strict person and I don’t have any rules. It’s taken me many years to learn to

balance my diet and I am still far from perfect. I love food, I am naturally too greedy and too curious, I often eat way too much on set. Travelling is the hardest as I cannot balance my daily intake that well. So in general, when I am at home, I eat super simple and healthy food, I don’t cook anything too elaborate and rich for myself. A lot of soupy things and light Asian food. But generally, my work is very physical so it does keep me reasonably fit…

Travelling is my passion and a total joy but it can be hard especially when I don’t get enough fresh vegetables and when I don’t have much control over what I eat for days. I will try anything local, new or any food offered to me. I believe it’s part of my work to try and experience everything while travelling but sometimes that is hard work, more than you think.

Staying healthy and fit is vital for what I do so a well-balanced diet is hugely important to keep me going physically and mentally.  So in general, I keep my home-cooking light and simple with lots of veg and pulses.

4) Do you have any secrets you could share on how you make the food in your photographs look so tasty?

I try to see what the most attractive part of the dish is and try to highlight that part somehow. Shoot the food as soon as it’s ready, don’t fiddle and use the best and fresh ingredients, and don’t overcook the food when taking pictures. But most of the time I am lucky to have brilliant food stylists who do all the shopping, cooking and styling the food and they make the food look tasty. I just focus on composition, light and props which are very important – bad light and inappropriate props can kill the food. So look closely and ask if the lighting and props are making the food look delicious and attractive. And most importantly, keep it as simple as possible.

“I always have a variety of miso in my fridge, including my own homemade one…”

Yuki Sugiura

5) Do you use miso in your cooking? If so, how do you like to enjoy it?

I always have a variety of miso in my fridge, including my own homemade one. Most of the time I use them for the various kinds of miso soup I have for lunch, dinner or as a hot drink. For miso soups, normally, I like mixing two types of miso pastes to get a more complicated flavour. I also use miso for a dip or a dressing with a bit of sweetness added or use it simply just to give extra umami to a dish, even if it’s European food.

6) Tell us something you recently made and how you made it.

As the weather has been great lately, I have been cooking various dishes that are suitable for picnics with friends. One experiment was vegan Quinoa balls – I mixed cooked quinoa with various seasonings including miso and chopped up veg, rolled in balls and baked in the oven till crunchy outside. It tasted good both hot and cold, I like to do it again to fine-tune the recipe.

The other one for picnics that worked well was Chinese minced pork, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and carrot cooked in miso, soy, sugar and sake which was served with crispy iceberg lettuce, simply wrap it with the lettuce before you eat it. The left over cooked mince was great on rice and noodles the next day too. The crooked cucumber salad with lots of coriander, peanuts and tomatoes, dressed in a light Thai style dressing was delicious when I managed to buy smaller cucumbers from Peckham Rye Lane – so much tastier and crispier than the ordinary supermarket cucumbers. Lastly, I made Onigiri for a breakfast picnic last weekend with seasoned rice with fresh peas and homegrown Sansho leaves. Anything eaten outside always tastes so much better in my opinion.

Yuki Sugiura - Chinese Pork Mince Lettuce cup & Cue Salad

6) As we ease out of lockdown, which restaurants are you most looking forward to visiting the most?

I just went to Rochelle Canteen for the most delicious lunch the other day. The first proper eating out experience since lockdown. Sitting under the vine, perfectly cooked food – it was as though I was on holiday. We like cooking at home and are not that crazy into eating out but we are looking forward to trying our very local Peckham Bazaar for dinner soon. They are back open, hurray!
Rochell Canteen - Shoreditch, London

6) We love the travel page on your website, if you could travel anywhere in the world to take pictures, where would that be and why?

This is a very hard question! I miss good Asian food and travelling there so I would like to go to Asia. But then again I have never been to India and Mexico (and South America in general) and have been wanting to go for many years. As a photographer those destinations would be a real visual feast in every sense and I am very interested in learning their food cultures. So India or Mexico please!!
Discover more about Yuki Sugiura and her photography work on her website at www.yukisugiura.com and follow her on her Instagram @yukisugiura.photo

Fish Nabanzuke – a Japanese fish dish believed to have been brought to Japan by the Portuguese in the 1600s.

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2020-12-16T16:34:35+00:00Discover, Pantry Stories|

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