Ja­panese food ... the easy way

Nan­ban chef and 2011 MasterChef win­ner Tim An­der­son shows Kate Whit­ing that cui­sine from the land of the ris­ing sun is far from com­pli­cated

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - FOOD -

The first time he tried sushi, Amer­i­can chef Tim An­der­son, who runs Ja­panese soul food restau­rant Nan­ban in Lon­don’s Brix­ton, wasn’t keen. “It’s the first Ja­panese food ev­ery­one tries and I’ve never un­der­stood why,” he says when we meet in Nan­ban, where I’m set for a crash course.

“I re­ally didn’t like the nori (sea­weed), but I was re­ally into soul food — tem­pura, fried rice. I loved noo­dles from the be­gin­ning, and the thing that blew my mind when I first tried it was tonkatsu (breaded pork cut­let) ra­men.”

Sushi is not on the menu at Nan­ban, but there are recipes for spicy tuna rolls and salmon av­o­cado rolls in his book Ja­panEasy, in which Tim shows Ja­panese cook­ing is ac­tu­ally sim­ple.

“This book was fun to write and I think it’s go­ing to do a good job of ac­tu­ally get­ting peo­ple to cook Ja­panese food,” says the 2011 MasterChef win­ner.

We chat as Tim pre­pares nasu den­gaku — miso-glazed aubergines. “It’s a re­ally sim­ple thing and goes with all types of food,” he says. “If you’re hav­ing lamb chops, there’s no rea­son you can’t have that as your side.”

Brits have a pre­con­cep­tion that stops them from cook­ing Ja­panese food, be­lieves Tim. “They don’t think they can get the in­gre­di­ents, which isn’t true. A big Tesco will ab­so­lutely have all the in­gre­di­ents you need to cook the vast ma­jor­ity of Ja­panese food, and you can get ev­ery­thing else on­line,” he says.

Tim grew up in Wis­con­sin, where “we don’t have a lot of Ja­panese food”. Watch­ing one of the first tele­vised cook­ing com­pe­ti­tion shows, Iron Chef, when he was 13, got him into Ja­panese food. He moved to LA to study Ja­panese his­tory and won a re­search grant to study food mu­se­ums in Ja­pan when he was 20. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, he taught English in Ja­pan for two years, be­fore mov­ing to Eng­land in 2008, mar­ry­ing Bri­tish wife Laura and fi­nally open­ing Nan­ban in 2015.

“When I moved here from Ja­pan, I was re­ally dis­ap­pointed by the food cul­ture,” he says. “If you go from place to place in Ja­pan, even the train sta­tion will have the best pro­duce, dif­fer­ent liquors and sweets, but in Bri­tain, you have to go out of your way to find good lo­cal food.”

At 26, Tim be­came the youngest ever win­ner of MasterChef, wow­ing the judges in the fi­nal with his Kyushu-style pork ra­men with truf­fled lob­ster and gy­oza.

His gy­oza are just as tasty to­day as they were then, I can at­test. In fact, he makes cook­ing them look so easy I might just be con­vinced to make them my­self at home. Ja­panEasy: Clas­sic & Modern Ja­panese Recipes To Cook At Home by Tim An­der­son, pho­tog­ra­phy by Laura Ed­wards, is pub­lished by Hardie Grant, priced £20

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.