Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto on the Art of Japanese Home Cooking

Email a Friend
Iron Chef and restaurateur Masaharu Morimoto discusses his new cookbook Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, which is filled with essential techniques, ingredients and recipes for surprisingly simple Japanese dishes. He elevates classics like miso soup, nabeyaki udon and chicken teriyaki, and offers lesser known dishes like Nitsuke (fish simmered with sake and soy sauce) and Chawanmushi (steamed egg custard with shrimp, chicken, and fish).Event: Masaharu Morimoto will be doing an event on Saturday, December 17th from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Williams Sonoma at the Short Hills Mall (1200 Morris Turnpike, Millburn, NJ). For tickets and additional information, click here.  Recipes Tamagoyaki (Japanese Omelet) 
Often called a Japanese omelet, this slightly sweet, custardy marvel might confuse anyone expecting the savory, fluffy, herb-flecked Western version. Yet one bite will turn you into a devotee. The magic is in the method, which creates many layers of eggy goodness. Most cooks use a kotobuki tamagoyaki, a special pan made for this dish, which you can have shipped to your door for just $20.Great warm for dinner or cold in a bento box the next day, tamagoyaki is one example of Japanese home cooking that takes a little time and practice to get right. But even your first attempt will impress your friends, and you’ll get better and better each time you cook it.SERVES 4Special EquipmentOne approximately 7-  by 5- inch tamagoyaki pan (highly recommended)¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Dashi (dried fish and kelp stock, page 20) or Kombu Dashi (kelp stock, page 23), warm1 teaspoon usukuchi (Japanese light- colored soy sauce)1 tablespoon granulated sugar4 large eggs, beatenVegetable oilCombine the dashi, soy sauce, and sugar in a large bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the eggs to the bowl and beat to combine well. Set a medium- mesh sieve over a measuring cup with a spout and pour in the egg mixture. Strain the mixture, stirring to get most of the liquid through, leaving just about a tablespoon of the thick whites in the sieve.Set the tamagoyaki pan or an 8- inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Let it get hot for a few minutes. Pour a tablespoon or two of the oil into a small bowl. Dip a folded paper towel into the oil and briefly rub the surface and sides of the pan. Keep the paper towel nearby.Pour into the pan just enough of the egg mixture (about 3 tablespoons) to cover the surface and immediately swirl the egg mixture so it covers the bottom in a thin layer, pushing down any egg that sticks to the sides. Use chopsticks or the edge of a nonmetal spatula to pop any little bubbles that appear. Let the egg cook, without stirring, just until it sets, about 20 seconds. Take the pan off the heat, tilt the handle down, and use a nonmetal spatula to gently fold the egg forward in half onto itself.Set the pan back on the heat. Rub the empty space at the back of the pan with oil, then slide the cooked egg, using the spatula to help if need be, into the empty space. Rub the now- empty space in the front of the pan with oil.Pour about 3 tablespoons more of the egg mixture into the empty space, tilting the pan and slightly lifting the cooked egg so the liquidy egg runs underneath the cooked egg. Cook until the raw egg has just set, 30 to 45 seconds. Take the pan off the heat, tilt the handle down, and use a spatula to gently fold the egg forward in half onto itself.Set the pan back on the heat again and repeat the process until you’ve used all of the egg mixture. If the omelet is not by this point golden brown in spots on both sides, cook over medium heat for a few minutes on each side. Transfer the omelet to a cutting board, let it cool slightly, and slice it crosswise into ¾- inch- thick slices. Serve warm.Wrapped in plastic wrap, the omelet keeps in the fridge for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to serve, transfer the omelet to a cutting board and slice it crosswise into ¾- inch- thick slices.Yakisoba (Stir fried noodles with pork, cabbage, and red pickled ginger)The most popular person at any Japanese street festival is the yakisoba guy. Standing at a small cart with a hot griddle, he wears a twisted hair band and holds two giant spatulas, one in each hand. With great energy and fanfare he stir- fries a heap of vegetables and pork with chukasoba noodles— the yellow, springy Chinese- style wheat noodles more commonly known as ramen. He finishes with a glug of the special bottled sauce that tastes like a spicier version of tonkatsu sauce, and customers walk toward him like zombies.At home, however, the dish is best cooked one portion at a time. At Japanese grocery stores, chukasoba are sold in the refrigerated section in bags with sauce packets, and labeled “yakisoba.” I typically ignore the packets and instead use the tastier Otafuku brand yakisoba sauce. Why don’t I make my own? Well, then the stir- fry would be a chore (you wouldn’t make your own ketchup for a burger, would you?) rather than a quick lunch or perfect late- night snack.SERVES 12 tablespoons vegetable oil2 ounces pork belly, thinly sliced then cut into ¾- inch pieces½ cup thinly sliced yellow onion¼ cup 2- inch- long matchsticks peeled carrot1 cup roughly chopped (about 2-  by ¾- inch pieces) loosely packed white cabbageOne 5½- ounce package yakisoba noodles (a heaping cup)2 tablespoons jarred yakisoba sauce, preferably the Otafuku brand1 tablespoon shredded beni shoga (red pickled ginger)1 heaping tablespoon bonito flakes½ teaspoon aonori (powdered seaweed) or finely chopped nori seaweed sheetsHeat the oil in a medium wide nonstick or cast- iron skillet over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the pork belly, onion, and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, until it wilts slightly and the onions are lightly browned at the edges, about 3 minutes.Add the noodles and cook, tossing with tongs, until the noodles are hot through, about 3 minutes. As you toss, gently separate the strands. (If the noodles don’t separate easily, add a splash of water to the pan.) Add the sauce and continue to cook, tossing, until thoroughly coated, about 1 minute. Season with more sauce to taste, toss well, and transfer to a bowl. Top with the beni shoga, bonito flakes, and aonori. Eat right away.Recipes reprinted with permission from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking by Masaharu Morimoto, Published by Ecco Books 2016.