Grub Street: 2022 James Beard Award Winners: The Full List. https://www.grubstreet.com/2022/06/2022-james-beard-chef-and-restaurant-award-winners-full-list.html
“Our life centers on the farm and the field. We eat what we grow,” says Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of Japanese Farm Food which won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2012: USA Winner for the Best Japanese Cuisine Book. It’s a fascinating take on Japanese cuisine from Hachisu, a native Californian who moved to a small village in rural Japan more than 30 years ago, intending to live there for a year. Describing herself as coming for the food, but staying for love, she met and married Tadaaki, an organic farmer, moved to the rural Saitama Prefecture. There she raised a family in an 80-year-old traditional Japanese farmhouse and immersed herself in both the culture and cooking. The book is so very niche that it’s almost like being in her kitchen and on her farm, giving us an amazing insight into a tiny slice of Japanese farm culture.
Hachisu also has written Japan: The Cookbook which she describes as not an examination of regional cooking traditions, as much as a curated experience of Japan’s culinary framework from a specific moment in time. Using both fine and generous strokes, I have put together what I hopes a broad and rich picture of the food of this island nation.”
Her other books include Preserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen It’s a book offering a clear road map for preserving fruits, vegetables, and fish through a nonscientific, farm- or fisherman-centric approach. Ruth Reichl, author of Tender at the Bone and former editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine writes “Even if you never yearned to make your own miso or pickle your own vegetables, this beautiful book will change your mind. It’s almost impossible to flip through these pages without wanting to join Nancy Singleton Hachisu in the lovely meditation of her cooking. This book is unlike anything else out there, and every serious cook will want to own it.”
Food Artisans of Japan, another of her wonderful books, offers us a look into Japan’s diversely rich food landscape and includes 120 recipes from 7 compelling Japanese chefs and 24 stories of food artisans.
Pork and Flowering Mustard Stir-Fry
Buta to Nanohana Itame
“Tadaaki made this one night when we had fields of flowering mustard and komatsuna. The flowering tops of brassicas, particularly rape (natane), are called nanohana in Japanese and are similar to rapini. Tadaaki tends to throw some meat into his stir-fries because he feels it gives the dish more depth,” writes the author in this simple recipe that is delicate and delicious. “I’m more of a purist, so prefer my vegetables without meat. But this dish really won me over, and I quickly became a convert (almost). Japanese stir-fries can be flavored with soy sauce, miso mixed with sake, or even salt. In this dish, I like the clarity of the salt.”
- ½ tablespoon organic rapeseed oil
- Scant ½ pound (200 g) thinly sliced pork belly
- 1 tablespoon finely slivered ginger
- 1 (10 ½-ounce/300-g) bunch flowering mustard or rapini, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) lengths
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil.
Heat a wide frying pan or wok over high heat. Add the oil quickly followed by the pork belly slices and ginger slivers. Sauté until the fat sizzles and there is some minimal browning, but don’t overdo it.
Place the flowering mustard in a mesh strainer with a handle and lower into the pot of boiling water. Cook for about 30 seconds, or until no longer raw. Keep the strainer at the top of the water surface in order to scoop the mustard greens out in one brisk pass. Shake off the hot water and toss into the cooked pork belly. Toss a few minutes more over high heat and season with the salt. Cook for about 30 seconds more, then serve.
Variations: Substitute soy sauce for the salt or chopped ginger for the slivered ginger.
—From Japanese Farm Food, by Nancy Singleton Hachisu/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC
Get Peached–meaning to be flavored smitten–is particularly apt if you’re in an experimental mood when it comes to food. Personally I think you always learn a lot about cooking when you venture outside your comfort range. By doing so either once in a while or really even more often, no telling what you’ll discover.
That’s one reason why I enjoyed chatting with Eric Silverstein who first started cooking from his Austin, Texas food truck, The Peached Tortilla and now runs a restaurant with the same name. He recently wrote “The Peached Tortilla: Modern Asian Comfort Food from Tokyo to Texas” (Sterling Epicure 2019; $16.99 Amazon price).
A former attorney who decided to pursue a different career path by merging his passions of food and business. Eric was born in Tokyo, Japan. There he was heavily influenced by Japanese, Chinese and Malaysian cuisine and then, moving to Atlanta, Georgia at the age of ten, he learned about traditional Southern cuisine. These divergent flavors and cuisines serve as the backdrop for The Peached Tortilla’s menu.
The recipes are Asian versions of American south and Italian food—fried chicken and arancini—those fried rice balls stuffed with mozzarella. If you think of it like that, you can see the possibilities of melding the the three. When I asked Eric for recommendations for readers just getting use to Asian/American/Italian fusion cuisine, he suggested the Umami Chicken because it is a best seller at his restaurant. He also suggested his deep-fried risotto balls stuffed with pureed kimchi and mozzarella cheese because he never met a person who didn’t love them.
“They are so easy to just pop in your mouth, and the fusion element makes the kimchi approachable,” he says.
Kimchi is a Korean dish using salted and fermented vegetables (typically cabbage) that also has chili powder, ginger and other spices. It’s very similar to sauerkraut but spicier and without the vinegary tartness.
He’s adapted his recipes for home cooks. For example, with the Unami Fried Chicken, he calls for par-baking before frying as it’s difficult to control the temperature of a deep fryer at home. By doing that there’s still the crispness of fried chicken without the complications of temperature control.
The following recipes and accompanying photos are reprinted with permission from The Peached Tortilla © 2019 Eric Silverstein. Published by Sterling Epicure. Photography by Carli Rene / Inked Fingers.
Unami Fried Chicken
For the Marinated Chicken
1 cup fish sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Chili Garlic Sauce
6 cloves garlic
1 (3 ½-4 pound) chicken, broken down into 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 whole wings, and 4 pieces of breast (breast is split)
To Make the Marinated Chicken
Puree all the ingredients, except for the chicken in a blender. Marinate the broken-down chicken in the fish sauce marinade overnight in a large airtight container or resealable bag.
For the Batter
1 ½ cups rice flour
Whisk the rice flour and 1 ½ cups of cold water in the mixing bowl and set the batter aside. The consistency of the mixture should be thick enough to heavily coat the back of a spoon.
As the batter sits, the rice flour will slowly separate from the water. So make sure to whisk the batter right before you dip the chicken into it.
- quarts vegetable oil
Place the pieces of chicken on a baking sheet. Set the oven to 350⁰F and bake the chicken for 30 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, check the temperature of the chicken while it is in the oven to make sure it reaches 165⁰F. It’s best to take the temperature of the thickest part of the breast, since this is the thickest cut of meat you are cooking off. When the chicken is at temperature, remove it from the oven and set it in the refrigerator to cool. You can remove the chicken from the refrigerator when it is cold to the touch.
Once the chicken has cooled in the refrigerator, heat 2 quarts of oil to 350⁰F in a medium-sized pot.
When the oil is at 350⁰, coat the parbaked chicken in the rice flour batter and then place the chicken in the hot oil. The rice flour batter should be thick enough, so it does not run off the chicken. If the rice flour batter has been sitting for a few minutes, make sure to give it a stir right before you dip the chicken in the batter.
Let the chicken cook in the oil for 2-3 minutes. It should turn a robust brown. Do not let the chicken get too brown or dark.
Remove the chicken from the oil and place it on a cooling rack with a rimmed baking sheet underneath it for 2 minutes before serving.
Serves 5-8 / Makes about 30 balls
5 cups chicken broth
1 ¾ tablespoons butter
¼ small yellow onion, diced
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Kimchi, pureed
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons Sriracha
In a medium-sized pot, warm the chicken broth over medium heat. Keep it warm over extremely low heat.
Add the butter to a wide, round pot and stir it over medium-low heat, until it starts to melt.
After the butter has melted, add the diced onion to the pot and sauté it in the butter until it becomes translucent. Season the sautéed onion with salt and pepper.
Add the Arborio rice to the pot and sauté it until it has browned.
Ladle or spoon the warm chicken broth into the rice mixture over the medium-low heat. Start by adding ½ cup of the chicken broth at a time, stirring the rice until it absorbs the broth. This is a similar process to making risotto.
Once the broth is absorbed, add more broth to the rice. Continue to cook the rice and add the broth until you have used all the broth. The entire process should take about 45 minutes. At the end of the process, the Arborio rice should be cooked al dente.
Place half of the kimchi, Parmesan, mozzarella, and sriracha in the bottom of a large baking sheet. Add the cooked Arborio rice to the baking sheet, then cover the rice with the remaining kimchi, mozzarella, and sriracha. Stir the mixture together with a heatproof spatula. The cheese should melt from the heat of the rice.
Refrigerate the mixture, uncovered, for 3-4 hours or preferably overnight.
1 cup, all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
2 quarts vegetable oil
½ cup Wasabi Mayo (recipe included below)
½ cup Sriracha Mayo (recipe included below)
Place the flour, eggs, and panko into separate mixing bowls or shallow vessels. Line them up to create an assembly line.
Moving from left to right, dredge the rice balls in the flour, then the egg mixture, and then roll them into the panko. By the end of the process, the balls should have a nice panko coating.
Heat the 2 quarts of oil in a Dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet. Once the oil reaches 350⁰F, drop the kimchi balls into the hot oil. The balls should turn golden brown after about 1 ½ – 2 minutes. If the balls start to get a little bit dark, remove them from the oil. If the internal temperature is hovering around 100⁰F, place them back in the oil for another 25-30 seconds or until they reach an internal temperature of 140⁰F.
When the rice balls are done, transfer them to a plate covered with a paper towel.
To plate the dish, top the Kimchi Balls with a little Wasabi Mayo and Sriracha Mayo.
Makes 1 ½ cups
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons prepared wasabi paste
¾ tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk them together. Store the mayo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Makes 1 ¼ cups
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Sriracha Sauce
½ teaspoon Rice Wine Vinegar
Heavy pinch of salt
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until they are well incorporated. Pour the mayo into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Several weeks ago, when the National Restaurant Association (NRA) was holding its annual international show, my friend Kimiyo Naka, who lives in Chicago, asked me to stop by the Japan Pavilion where 19 companies from that country were presenting a range of both modern and traditional Japanese foods and beverages. On hand also, were several Chicago restauranteurs including Bill Kim and Takashi Yagihashi, both of whom are awarding winning chefs and cookbook authors. The NRA show is immense, taking up several floors at McCormick’s Place in Chicago and is packed with vendors showcasing products and food, chefs doing cooking demonstrations and the latest in food technologies and equipment.
My experience with Japanese food is limited, so stopping by the Japan Pavilion, presented by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), was very much a learning experience. When Kimiyo and I tasted samples of Wagyu Beef, a top quality, highly marbled meat produced by four Japanese breeds of beef cattle and took sips of sake, we discovered how these foods are helping Japan’s rural areas in their revitalization efforts. Some farmers and producers are creating their own brands and exporting—or working on exporting them to other countries including the United States.
We tasted sakes including brown rice sake and one made with shiraume, or white flower plums and looked at the different varieties of rice typically used to make sake, which is a fermented rice drink that is typically served warm. We also talked to a member of the Yonezawa family founders of Akashi Sake Brewery in 1886, a small artisanal sake producer based in Akashi, a fishing town in the Hyogo prefecture (or district) in Western Japan which is the traditional sake brewing capital of country and is known for having the best sake rice and pure water.
When the company started all those years ago more than a century ago, Akashi was a small village but since has grown into a booming metropolis. It’s known for the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge – the world’s longest suspension bridge—as well as the quality of the fish that are caught in the waters off its coast. The water also is a predominant feature in the taste of the sake, as are Japanese cedar wood lids used to cover the storage tanks where the Akashi sake is aged. Akashi sake is made in small batches by Toji Kimio Yonezewa. Note: I learned later that toji was not his first name but means brewmaster or chief executive of production.
I also spent time talking to Bill Kim, author of Korean BBQ: How to Kung-Fu Your Grill in Seven Sauces, who I had interviewed before and Takashi Yagihashi, who came to the U.S. from Japan when he was 16, started cooking because he need milk money, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest and is the owner of Slurping Turtle in downtown Chicago (there’s another one in Ann Arbor, Michigan) and TABO Sushi & Noodles at Macy’s State Street in Chicago.
One of the things we talked about is karaage which is Japanese fried chicken. I’ve included his recipe for the dish. Don’t get put off with the title ingredient of duck fat (if you’re like me, you don’t have a ready supply of it in your refrigerator) because you can substitute vegetable oil instead.
Slurping Turtle’s Duck-Fat-Fried Chicken Karaage
4 chicken thigh quarters (thigh and drumstick)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin or sweet sake
2 tsp. sesame oil
Salt and pepper
6 cups duck fat (or vegetable oil), enough to fill a pan 3 inches deep
1 cup potato starch
Using a sharp knife, separate the thighs from the drumstick by cutting between the joint. Cut the thigh in half lengthwise along the bone. Using a heavy cleaver, chop the piece with the bone in half, resulting in three similar-sized pieces. Then, cut the drumstick in half through the bone. When you’re done with all four thigh quarters, you should have 20 pieces of chicken when done. Alternatively, debone the thigh pieces with skin intact, and cut into two-inch pieces. Place the chicken in a shallow pan and set aside.
For the marinade, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl and mix. Pour marinade over chicken and coat well using your hands. There should be just enough marinade to coat the chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes or up to two hours.
Line a shallow tray with paper towels and set aside. Heat six cups duck fat (or vegetable oil) in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 1 cup potato starch in a large bowl and gently toss each piece of chicken until lightly coated. Carefully lower half the chicken pieces into the hot oil. Cook the chicken until it is nicely browned and begins to rise to the surface, 9 to 11 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the oil using tongs and place onto paper towel-lined tray. Toss with a pinch of kosher salt while still hot. Repeat with second batch.
Serve immediately with lemon wedges and Japanese mayonnaise.
When finished deep-frying the chicken, season with salt, then sprinkle with this soy-chili oil vinaigrette:
1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons hot chili oil
2 teaspoons sugar
Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Chef Takashi’s Stir-Fry Udon Noodles
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups chopped Napa cabbage
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced on the bias
7 ounces enoki mushrooms
4 ounces oyster mushrooms
1/4 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
18 ounces frozen precooked udon noodles, thawed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped scallions, for garnish
In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry over moderately high heat until curled, 2 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the chicken and stir-fry until white throughout, 3 minutes; transfer to the plate with the shrimp.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the cabbage, onion, carrot and the mushrooms and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add the stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, shrimp and chicken; remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, cook the udon in a pot of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and add to the skillet. Stir-fry over high heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with scallions and serve.