East meets west

Hus­band and wife team Zenta and Meg Tanaka’s dishes show­case their trade­mark Ja­panese flavours with a twist, and are sim­ple to cook, too. Here, they share four of their favourite recipes

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Sur­pris­ingly easy Ja­panese recipes

Baked salmon with mush­rooms and sweet miso sauce

Serves 4

If you can’t find shimeji and enoki mush­rooms, but­ton or brown ones are good sub­sti­tutes. — ½ leek, sliced into 5mm pieces

— 1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

— 4 x 90-100g salmon fil­lets — 3 tbsp sweet miso sauce (see baked miso eggs recipe on p80)

— 8 thin slices of lemon, plus juice of ½ lemon, to gar­nish — 100g shimeji mush­rooms — 50g enoki mush­rooms — 20g salted but­ter

— 1 tbsp finely sliced spring onion, to gar­nish Pre­heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/gas mark 6.

Cut out four 30x30cm squares of bak­ing pa­per.

Di­vide the leek and onion be­tween the four squares, then lay the salmon fil­lets on top. Pour over the miso sauce, then top with the lemon wheels, mush­rooms and but­ter. Close each par­cel, ty­ing it with kitchen string.

Trans­fer them to a bak­ing tray and cook in the oven for 15-20 min­utes.

Plate the parcels, cut them open, then gar­nish with the spring onion and lemon juice. Serve im­me­di­ately. IN JA­PANESE, cibi (pro­nounced ‘chibee’) means ‘a lit­tle one’. Each one of us was once a cibi, en­joy­ing that pure and in­no­cent time when we could do what­ever we liked. A cibi is al­ways cu­ri­ous, ex­plor­ing and play­ing.

We opened Cibi, our con­cept store in Mel­bourne – a mul­ti­pur­pose cafe, shop, event and neigh­bour­hood space – in 2008, with recipes that re­flect our sig­na­ture style: a blend of Ja­panese in­gre­di­ents and cook­ing meth­ods with western flavours and sea­sonal pro­duce, cre­at­ing unique dishes that nour­ish body and soul. We en­joy eat­ing dishes where each in­gre­di­ent can be tasted and ap­pre­ci­ated, know­ing they were cooked well to pre­serve what makes them unique; when they lose their iden­tity in a dish, it re­duces the plea­sure of eat­ing it.

Ja­panese cook­ing can seem in­tim­i­dat­ing, but it doesn’t have to be. These recipes will in­tro­duce you to the many ways you can in­fuse your cook­ing with beau­ti­ful Ja­panese flavours to make each day a lit­tle bit spe­cial.

Cibi, by Meg and Zenta Tanaka, is out now (Hardie Grant, £22). Buy yours for £18plus p&p at books.tele­graph.co.uk or call 0844-871 1514

Slow-cooked beef cheek with red wine and hatcho miso Serves 4

— 3 tbsp olive oil

— 1kg beef cheeks, fatty mem­branes trimmed off, cut into 5-7cm pieces — 1 large onion, finely chopped

— 1 gar­lic clove, sliced — 1 medium car­rot, finely chopped

— 1 cel­ery stalk, finely chopped

— 1 tbsp tomato purée

— 2 tbsp plain flour

— 1 litre red wine

— 2-3 bay leaves, fresh or dried

— 2-3 thyme sprigs

— 2 tbsp hatcho (very dark) miso

— 2 tbsp whip­ping cream, to serve

— 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf pars­ley, to serve — steamed veg­eta­bles and/or crusty bread, to serve Pre­heat the oven to 150C/ 130C fan/gas mark 2.

Heat two ta­ble­spoons of the oil in a large cast-iron stock­pot over a high heat. Sear the beef cheeks on each side for 3-5 min­utes, un­til nicely browned. Trans­fer to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

Re­duce the heat to medium-high and add the re­main­ing ta­ble­spoon of oil. Sauté the onion and gar­lic for five min­utes, or un­til the onion is translu­cent. Add the car­rot and cel­ery, and sauté for an­other five min­utes, un­til soft.

Re­turn the beef and its juices to the pot and stir well. Sea­son with salt and pep­per, then add the tomato purée and mix again. Sprin­kle the flour evenly over the beef and stir it in well.

Pour the wine into a sep­a­rate pan and bring to the boil. Bub­ble it for five min­utes to cook off the al­co­hol.

Add the re­duced wine to the beef and sim­mer over a high heat for about five min­utes, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til the liq­uid thick­ens. Drop in the bay leaves and thyme, then check and ad­just the sea­son­ing if nec­es­sary.

Make an oto­shi-buta (drop lid) out of bak­ing pa­per by cut­ting a cir­cle just smaller than the cir­cum­fer­ence of the pot. Place it on top of the sim­mer­ing in­gre­di­ents.

Put the pot in the oven and cook for 1½ hours. Add the hatcho miso and stir gen­tly, then cook for an­other 30 min­utes un­til the beef is very ten­der.

Serve each bowl with a lit­tle cream and some pars­ley. The stew is even more en­joy­able if you leave it overnight and eat it the next day.

Baked miso eggs with roasted aubergine and pump­kin

Serves 4

A great mar­riage be­tween east­ern and western flavours. You can swap aubergine and pump­kin with other win­ter veg­eta­bles such as cauliflowe­r, spinach, mush­rooms and sweet potato. — 500g aubergine, sliced into 1cm-thick rounds — 90ml olive oil

— 250g but­ter­nut squash, cubed

— 4 eggs

— 125ml whip­ping cream — 2 tbsp spring onion, chopped

— 150g pro­volone cheese, or sim­i­lar, sliced — co­rian­der leaves, to gar­nish

For the sweet miso sauce

(makes 250ml) — 90g white miso — 90ml mirin — 60g sugar Pre­heat the oven to 170C/ 150C fan/gas mark 3½. Grease a heavy cast-iron pan or gratin dish (ap­prox­i­mately 30x25cm), or four in­di­vid­ual cast-iron pans.

Soak the aubergine in salted wa­ter for 10-15 min­utes to elim­i­nate its harsh­ness.

In a small bowl, com­bine the in­gre­di­ents for the sweet miso sauce and mix well.

Ar­range the aubergine in a roast­ing tin, driz­zle it with oil and sea­son with salt and pep­per. Roast for 20 min­utes, un­til soft. Mean­while, steam the squash for five min­utes, or un­til cooked through.

Dis­trib­ute the aubergine and squash evenly in the cast-iron pan(s). Gen­tly crack the eggs over the veg­eta­bles. Pour the cream and 80ml of the sweet miso sauce evenly over the top (the re­main­ing sauce is great for mar­i­nat­ing fish, meat or veg­eta­bles, or for us­ing in salad dress­ings). Sprin­kle over the spring onion and top with the pro­volone.

Bake for 10 min­utes, un­til the cheese melts. Gar­nish with the co­rian­der and serve im­me­di­ately, pip­ing hot.

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