Nikkei Cuisine – Japanese Food the South American Way

Nikkei Cuisine - Japanese Food the South American Way
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The bank holiday weekend is a great time to unwind with a book and over the last weekend I had a chance to open up Nikkei Cuisine – Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara, born in Brazil to Japanese and Italian parents and living in the UK. The food cultures of both Japan and Brazil are incredibly different and crammed with amazing styles, techniques, flavours and smells so cooking Nikkei – the cooking of the Japanese diaspora – with a Brazilian flavour was always going to make for a good read.From the liner notes

The Nikkei community in South American, mostly in Brazil and Peru, has embraced new ingredients and assimilate these into their cooking to create their own Nikkei versions of favourite Japanese dishes. So, think of the Nikkei Peruvian take on sashimi as in their much loved tiraditos, or a maki acevichado, Peru’s answer to the California roll. Over the border, Nikkei Brazilian street-food is all the rage, including pastéis – deep-fried gyoza filled with chicken and cream cheese – while on the barbecue, pork ribs are more often than not marinated in Japanese miso paste.

Nikkei Hakata Buns, with slow-braised pork belly in steamed Taiwanese buns with a cucumber and chilli pickle. Photo: Lisa Linder

Nikkei Hakata Buns, with slow-braised pork belly in steamed Taiwanese buns with a cucumber and chilli pickle. Photo: Lisa Linder

Luiz also incorporates receipes from some of those Nikkei chefs leading the way in their field to bring in some different influences. He also manages to rope in his brother Riccardo Hara with a cracking recipe for BBQ Pork Ribs in a brown miso and lime marinade on page 168.

Get to the back of the book and there’s a great few pages that break down some of the Japanese and other Asian ingredients. You’ll also find a few handy tips there too. Did you know you should never wash konbu (it’s a type of kelp seasweed) as its flavour lies in the surface? Or that the native style of soy sauce in Peru is known as sillao?

With a hundred or so recipes between the covers, there’s an interesting blend of the weird, wonderful, complex and simple, the latter also meeting Nikkei twists on traditional recipes. Flip to page 136 and you’ll find a recipe for Nikkei Fish & Chips with a photo of tempura of monkfish cheeks, cassava chips and wasabi mayo that would have you wanting to eat the page.

Some other standout recipes worth investing in include

  • Banana & nutella gyoza with a dusting of sweetened toasted soybean powder (p218)
  • Arroz con pollo Nikkei (pretty much rice with chicken – p102)
  • Nikkei beef sukiyaki – a hotpot of beef, mushrooms, noodles, grilled tofu and greens in a rich dark beer and soy broth (p132)
  • Sea bream tartare (p74)
  • Grilled aubergines with miso dengaku & mozzarella (p180)
  • Peruvian Maki Acevichado (p69)

Overall Thoughts

There’s absolutely heaps of great recipes in this and off the back of it you should be able to work up plenty a menu that would mix small eats to meaty mains to desserts.

When it comes to Asian cuisine I’m more of a small eats kind of guy and there’s plenty of options within the pages. It’s well designed, well laid out, comprehensive in its instructions and if you’re living in the UK, it comes with a full list of suppliers and tips on where to shop for certain ingredients.

If you eat with your eyes, Lisa Linder’s shots will have you licking the pages.

After a lovely photographic background introduction to the book, it’s broken down into sections like Small Eats, Sushi, tiraditos & Ceviches, Rice & Noodles, Soups & Hotpots, Mains and more.

There’s a few pieces of kitchen equipment you might need to lay your hands on, but there’s a handy guide for that stuck in at the back of the book as well.

About The Author

Nikkei Cuisine is penned by Luiz Hara. Born in Brazil to Japanese and Italian parents, educated in the UK, he regards himself a true Londoner. Former investment banker turned Cordon Bleu trained chef, food, wine and travel writer, Japanophile and Supper Club host in Islington, Luiz writes The London Foodie, regularly listed as one of the top 10 UK food blogs.

Where can I get the book

Nikkei Cuisine – Japanese Food the South American Way is published by Jacqui Small, runs 256 pages and is available to buy from Amazon here.

Written by Ken McGuire
Writes and talks a lot about food, spending way too much time in the kitchen or behind the lens taking photos. Digital Media Specialist by day, broadcaster by night, living in Kilkenny with Mrs. Any Given Food and two crazy rescue hounds.