EASY SUSHI AND OTHER DELICACIES. Kickstart your Japanese cooking with four basic recipes shared by chef Asano Hiroaki from Sake+
Just like Italian pizza, Japanese dishes like sushi and udon have become part of the global diet. They represent not only a modern but also an elevated form of Asian cuisine—especially if one takes into consideration the ubiquity of mundane Chinese food. Riding on that culinary evolution is Asano Hiroaki, a Japanese chef who cut his teeth on food preparation in Tokyo before making a big move to Jakarta, Indonesia, four years ago. His 22 years of cooking experience is definitely not something to be taken lightly, especially with his current position as the head chef of Sake+—the latest offering from the Vin+ group that propagates the rich and tangy flavors of sake and Japanese cuisine. For DA MAN, the friendly chef shared a number of simple Japanese recipes that any home cook can prepare. Even better, all the ingredients mentioned here can easily be found at the nearest local supermarket.
This sushi staple is pretty much the same everywhere, although the edible adornments can freely be tweaked. The real secret to a good sushi roll—as in any Japanese dish—is quality produce. Chef Asano couldn’t emphasize enough on the importance of getting fresh salmon. Chūtoro or the flesh near the skin on the back and belly is typically used in a salmon roll.
- 80gr sushi rice
- 1pc nori (seaweed)
- 120gr salmon
- 20gr kyuri (Japanese cucumber)
- 1pc crabstick
- 10gr mayonnaise
- 10gr salmon roe
- 1gr parsley
Peel the skin off the fresh salmon using a very sharp knife. Cut the salmon diagonally. Also cut the crabstick into smaller pieces. Put them aside and prepare nori and sushi rice on a plastic-covered sushi bamboo mat. Remember to always keep your hands wet when preparing the rice so that it won’t stick to your hands.
Spread the nori on the bamboo mat and cover it completely with rice. Turn it over and put the cuts of salmon, crabstick and kyuri on the nori. Spread mayonnaise on top of the salmon then roll the bamboo mat firmly. Add fresh salmon cuts on top of the sushi roll. Roll altogether on the bamboo mat again so that the cuts are firmly stuck on the top of the sushi roll. Slice the sushi roll into several pieces. Remember to always wipe the knife clean after every cut. Once again, roll the pieces using the bamboo mat.
For plating, sprinkle a bit of mayonnaise on a plate. Place the sushi cuts on top of the mayonnaise. On top of each cut, add a little bit of mayonnaise and stick on a clump of salmon roe—you can use chopsticks for this. Garnish the salmon roll with sprinkles of parsley or, alternatively, some chopped basil.
How to spot good salmon:
- The flesh is bright orange
- There is a lot of fatty bits in the flesh
- For imported salmon, pick Tasmanian over Norwegian
On the Sake+ menu, this dish is translated to Boiled Black Cod Nitsuke. The Japanese term “Nitsuke” refers to the cooking technique of making sweet sauce reduction from dashi (fish stock). While you can make dashi from scratch, an instant version of it is available at a number of local supermarkets. Nevertheless, the fresher the ingredients, the better.
- 150gr gindara
- 40gr tofu
- 15gr shitake mushroom
- 10gr horenzo (Japanese spinach)
- 180gr dashi (fish stock)
- 20ml mirin (rice wine)
- 20ml shoyu (soy sauce)
- 15gr sugar
- Aluminum foil
Bring water to a boil. Blanch the gindara slices by dipping them in the boiling water once and immediately cool them in ice-cold water. This will effectively remove the fishy smell and any excess oil on the skin.
Prepare the sauce by making a dashi concoction. Mix together dashi, shoyu, mirin, sugar and some water in a pot. Put in the gindara. The concoction should be enough to wholly cover the gindara cuts in the pot. Bring to a boil at maximum heat for 15 minutes, so that the soup will thicken into a sauce. Partially cover the top of the pot with aluminum foil. This will ensure that the top part of the fish still retains flavor. Add in tofu and shitake mushrooms after a few minutes, followed by horenzo or other vegetables just before the 15 minute mark. The dish is ready to serve when the soup has thickened into a sweet sauce.
Udon with prawn tempura is perhaps the quintessential Japanese staple. It is easy to make, and the ingredients are not hard to find. For this recipe, chef Asano allowed the use hondashi, or flavor enhancer, since it might suit the palates of Indonesians a bit better. Nonetheless, it all goes back to personal preference.
- 1 portion udon noodle
- 2 pcs prawn
- 100gr tempura batter
- 150ml water
- 100gr wakame (seaweed)
- 5gr leek
- 1300ml dashi (fish stock)
- 100ml mirin (rice wine)
- 100ml shoyu (soy sauce)
- 2gr hondashi (flavor enhancer)
Prepare the udon broth by mixing together water, dashi, mirin, shoyu and hondashi in a pot. Bring to a boil in 10 minutes, add in the udon noodle, and let it boil for another 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the prawn tempura by de-veining each prawn, covering them in tempura batter and then frying them until they’re crispy and golden-colored.
Once the udon is ready, pour it in a bowl and add wakame and julienned leek. Put the prawn tempura on top of the udon and the wakame.
Grilled Ebi with Mayonnaise
GRILLED EBI WITH MAYONNAISE
Japanese cuisine also includes grilling. What makes it different from how it’s done in the west is most likely the sauce served on the side. This one is a very simple dish which highlights the clean taste of the prawns and comes with a little spicy sauce mix on the side.
- 2 pcs jumbo prawns
- 50gr mayonnaise
- 20gr togarashi (chili pepper)
- 20gr mayonnaise
- 5gr wasabi
- 1 pc fried garlic
- Baby corn
- Snow peas
- Horenzo (Japanese spinach)
- Teriyaki sauce
De-vein the prawns and put them on skewers. Sprinkle the prawns with some salt before grilling. Once off the grill, de-shell the prawns. To make the sauce, mix togarashi, mayonnaise, wasabi, fried garlic and a sprinkling of lemon. For the garnish, boil baby corn, snow peas, horenzo and broccoli until soft.
When you’re ready to plate, put together the baby corn, snow peas, horenzo, broccoli and grilled prawns. You can also place the prawn heads on one side, and fill the rest of the plate with the sauce mix and a dash of teriyaki sauce.
“Udon with prawn tempura is perhaps the quintessential Japanese staple. It is easy to make, and the ingredients are not hard to find”
Chef Asano Hiroaki is currently the head chef at Sake+ (Jl. Senopati no. 54, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta; +62 21 725 0002; sakeplus.com). He previously held a similar position at Iseya Robatayaki at Sampoerna Strategic Square. For those interested in sampling his finest culinary offerings, book an Omakase (chef’s table) dining experience at Sake+, a minimum of two days ahead.