Taste Of Japan with Kimio Nonaga (Iron Chef!)

I am still really stoked that i got to meet the a chef from then famous Japanese cooking showdown series, "Iron Chef" which i watched as a kid and last week the 3rd generation Iron Chef himself  was down in KL to share with us his skilled expertise in preparing Japanese dishes with a Malaysian twist to it! Have to thank Tomoko-san from GreenCrate and a mutual friend whom i met during the Chiba seminar earlier this year, Amir. Really, thank you so much for having me over to witness this rare, personal & upclose opportunity with Nonaga-san :)


Nonaga-san is really friendly & skilled!

So what did i learn from the Iron chef himself? Many things that my mind is kinda boggled on where to start actually lol, i arrived slight late as i came from work & had trouble finding the place (i know in Japanese culture being tardy is unacceptable) so you can imagine how embarrass i was to even walk into the seminar halfway :(
But overall despite the rush & mishaps that happened on my side along the way, i am glad i came for this because i also gained some new friends from various publications too!

Better stop going off topic, my blogpost today is supposed to be focused on food lol, guess it tends to be a habit to go off topic at some point. How many of you guys have actually heard of these two sea creatures that happens to be the staple ingredient in Japanese cuisines - Amberjacks & Scallops  
And these guys ain't your average small seafood found in your wet market because from the size of it's enough to feed up to 15 people in one sitting (which actually did during the seminar), somehow everything that grows in Japan tends to be larger than our common agriculture goods lol. Makes me very curious about this!
Remembered when i first encountered a large daikon in Tsukiji market during my first trip to Japan? It feels like it all over again XD

Say hello to Yellowtail Amberjack, he's huge and definitely not just a display!
Did i mention that he is tasty too? *yums*

This seminar was specially organized the ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (MAFF) and they only visited 2 locations this year which was Vietnam and Malaysia, imagine our own country was on the list for this when it could have been easily elsewhere! So thank you MAFF for selecting Malaysia to host Nonaga-san for these amazing 2 days.

When it comes to Japanese culinary, one easily knows the amount of years one must master a certain skill before even holding the title as a "chef", just like tea making as well. It's a life long journey of learning even when you are already a sensei (master teacher).
Nonaga-san demonstrated how to properly utilized the entire Amberjack fish with minimal wastage during the seminar as wasting food is strongly against in Japanese culture, plus with a premium fish like that who wouldn't want to get their value's worth no? ;-)
It was really mesmerizing to see how the whole slicing procedure is done skillfully with various Japanese knives, for those who have seen this perform live in sushi stores or festivals would be familiar with this scene.

Was trying to keep my jaw from hanging most of the time because everything was done so quickly and clean, i remember the last time i cut a fish it was a bloody mess that i wouldn't want to repeat ever again *shudders*, some things are just left to the professionals some times or my mom XD
Nonaga-san explaining the types of knives used and angles to slice the yellowtail amberjack starting from the tip.
Only certain parts of the fish can be used as sashimi (to be eaten raw) and the rest has to be cooked, that explains why sashimi is very expensive because not the entire fish can be eaten raw.


Did you know you could actually eat the konbu like that lol?
I always thought it's meant to boil soup with since it's super tough to chew, had to chew like 10-15 times before i could even swallow. Dashi is one of the most important ingredients in Japanese dishes at it provides the flavor for every food served.

Truth be told i am actually allergic to seafood (particularly shellfish) but i had no problem eating the scallop because it was so fresh! If all seafood was this fresh i don't think i'll have a problem enjoying them again, i used to love seafood alot till i turned 12 and developed an allergy towards it (nuuuu!), kinda a family genetic thing because my older sister is also allergic to seafood.
But thank goodness i can still enjoy fish which i love very much compared to meats like chicken, pork & beef!


Whole platter using parts of the Amberjack Nonaga-san freshly cut and scallop which all of us had a taste, it was worth skipping my lunch for this!

Menu:
Japanese Amberjack & potato stew
Udon with scallop in water spinach (kangkung) soup base
Fried amberjack in a maki roll
Seasoned Amberjack flakes sushi (reminds me of tuna texture) 

Japanese "nyonya" pongteh, for those familair with the traditional Noyoya dish called pongteh would find this flavorful tasting stew similar . But instead of pork & chicken, the meat is replaced with amberjack chunks which has the right kind of texture (not brittle from the shimmering) that compliments the vegetables that it's cooked with. Really need to try to make this at home because it does very much reminds me of my late grandfather's cooking :) 


Also gonna share with you guys the recipe so you can try cooking it at home, make sure to share with me your masterpiece by hashtaging #ArisaChow on Instagram or Facebook ;)

Ingredients :
  • Japanese Amberjacks (3 fishes/ 300-500g)
  • Potatoes (3 potatoes/ 500-550g)
  • Carrot (half)
  • Large Onion  (1pc)
  • Snow Peas or Kidney Beans (4 pea pods- to your liking)
  • Dashi (Japanese soup stock) - available in most Japanese section in the market (600g) 
  • Soy sauce (60g)
  • Sugar (30g)
Recipe :
  1.  Onion- peel divide into 2 & cut along the fibers, vegetables & fish are chopped into bite size
  2. Cleaning tip for fish: Pour boiled water over cubed fish & immediately soak in cold water, this removes the smell, remaining scales & blood.
  3. Put water & condiments in frying pan, add Japanese amberjacks & vegetables, drop a lid with paper towel, and boil for 20 minutes with medium flame.
  4. When "dashi" is boiled enough, turn of the flame & leave at normal temperature for 2-6 hours, for the "dashi" to soak into the ingredients.
  5. Before serving, heat up under medium flame till boil & serve on a plate with snow peas or kidney beans to your liking.

Settings on my camera was wrong so it looks kinda yellowish but i tried toning down the yellow hues, apologies if the color looks weird.

 Even got to taste some sake, not much an alcohol person these days after i quit drinking but it's always nice to enjoy a cup of sake once in awhile :D
Yes, in case you guys didn't know i used to be a heavy drinker during my younger days lol, wild and crazy.

So now that you guys get the idea that how versatile this amberjack fish is, would you consider getting one to try at home too because i know i would once i get a fridge! Now the main question is where to get the fish & scallop right? I did see frozen ones in the super market but however they do sell fresh ones during Japanese fairs in Isetan, KLCC which i will update on my social media platforms if i do see one around :)





XOXO,

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