Brooklyn Yakuza's Chef Philip Pak Shares His Top 5 Tips to Cook Authentic Japanese Dishes at Home
Under the Hong Kong-based restaurant group, Showmen Group, is the late-night Japanese American restaurant- Brooklyn Yakuza. Opened just last October, Brooklyn Yakuza serves ‘East meets West’ cuisine by Korean-American Executive Chef Philip Kun-Young Pak. The young chef has worked alongside many great chefs (he's also a disciple of the famous Japanese Chef Nobu Matsuhisa) and in countries which allowed his passion for learning and experimenting with different cuisines and cooking styles to flourish. Embracing both Asian and Western culture, Pak creates rich and authentic flavours for each dish at Brooklyn Yazuka. Here, he shares with us his top five tips to cooking authentic Japanese cuisine at home.
1) Achieve The 'True Umami'
Japanese food is often described as delicate yet full of umami. To achieve the ultimate umami, the true essence of savouriness, you should rely on a few important ingredients such as mirin, soy sauce, sake, miso, kombu and bonito flakes. Each of these gives that deep and intense satisfying flavour. Umami works best when used in combination with other notes of salty, sweet, smoky, sour and bitter.
2) Go All Japanese!
Some essential tools to have for your Japanese cooking adventure at home are a grater, a super sharp knife, mortar and pestle, chopsticks and a high-quality bamboo rolling mat for all your sushi dreams!
3) Try Out Different Methods
Japanese cuisine uses five different methods of cooking inclusive of simmered, raw, grilled, steamed and fried. A typical home-cooked meal would consist of a salad, simmered veggies, grilled fish, and tempura followed by rice, soup, and pickles. For an authentic meal to impress your guests try to include all these items and cooking methods.
4) Rice Is Key
The secret for making the best sushi rice is to use polished short-grain Japanese rice and wash your rice thoroughly to get rid of the starchy powder that clings to the grains. The starchy powder will prevent absorption of the sushi-su (seasoned vinegar) and give you less than perfect rice. There are many variations of sushi-su, but all use the same basic components: sugar, salt and rice vinegar. I like to throw in a small piece of kombu (edible kelp), which adds more depth to the overall flavour.
5) Miso, Miso, Miso!
Make sure you have miso in your pantry. This is a crucial ingredient that will elevate your Japanese dish to the next level. It is produced by fermentation of soybeans which becomes a beautiful paste with an intense salty flavour. You can use it to marinate fish, add flavour to vegetables or any ingredient that your heart desires. Miso stands out and will bring out a very distinctive taste and quality in a dish. ---
Images provided by Showmen Group.
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