Expert advice on Japanese cooking
What’s On speaks to InterContinental Abu Dhabi’s sous chef to get some expert advice on Japanese cooking. Get tips about how to make sushi.
The InterContinental Abu Dhabi’s sous chef Dexter Saludar, who works at The Yacht Club, on how to be a master in the kitchen…
What are some common mistakes people make when cooking Japanese food? Sushi rice should be soaked in cold water for 30 minutes before cooking to get the correct texture. For noodles, before you start, the grill needs to be heated to 180ºC. If you cook on the wrong temperature noodles will get soggy or too saucy. For yakitori (skewered proteins), you should make sure you marinate the meat for 24 hours beforehand.
So how do you make sushi properly? Cook the rice one day in advance and keep it at room temperature. If you use nori, keep it covered so it stays crispy.
Do you need special utensils to cook it? For sushi, you really need a bamboo mat. To cook noodles, a wok or a non-stick pan is fine. And to serve, you need chopsticks.
What basic pantry ingredients should you have in the house? Soy sauce, pickled ginger, udon noodles, cabbage and shitake mushrooms. Wasabi is not necessary and is designed for raw fish.
Where do you go to source your ingredients here in Abu Dhabi? I advise Abela or Spinneys because they have ingredients for Japanese home-style cooking.
For someone new to cooking, where do you recommend they start? Start with the sushi, before going for hot dishes, which are easy to adapt. Sushi is very specific, so I’d recommend that.
Any tips on how to cook like the professionals? For beginners I would say to follow the procedure and recipe. Especially with quantity. If it says 100 grams then do that or the taste will change.
THE ETIQUETTE OF EATING SUSHI
Koi’s executive chef Daisuke Yoshizaki reveals the dos and don’ts about Japanese food
If you’re using chopsticks to eat sushi, turn the sushi on its side so that you are able to hold both the fish and rice together. This will make it much easier to eat!
When adding wasabi to the top of the sashimi you should use your chopsticks and then dip into the soy sauce before eating. Adding too much wasabi will hide the natural flavour of the fish. Also, the sushi should be dipped into the soy sauce on the side where the fish is placed so that the rice does not crumble.
When eating sushi, place it in your mouth with the fish touching your tongue so that the complete flavour of the fish can be enjoyed.
Ginger and daikon (a root veg) are served as accompaniments to sushi. What some people don’t know is they were originally intended to be a palate cleanser, rather than to be eaten with the sushi.
Sushi and sashimi should not be handed to each other between chopsticks as this mimics a traditional Japanese funeral tradition, which some may find offensive. Instead, allow your guest to pick up their own sushi/sashimi using their own chopsticks.