Japanese cuisine has a reputation for being difficult to make at home, but Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto wants to dispel that. His new book, Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, aims to demonstrate how Japanese classics like miso soup, chicken teriyaki, tuna-and-rice bowls and more can be easily prepared in your own kitchen.
Below is a peek at two of our favorite recipes from the new book. If you’re into the dishes you see here, be sure to join us along with your kids at your local Williams-Sonoma store on Wednesday, February 15 at 6 p.m. for our next cookbook club event. $75 per person includes a cooking demonstration from one of our culinary specialists, a copy of Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking and a generous tasting of all the recipes prepared. On the menu? Vegetable temaki (hand rolls), gyoza (pan-fried dumplings) and hakumai (perfect white rice). Get in touch with your local store for more details.
Morimoto’s Black Cod with Sake, Soy Sauce and Sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) dashi (dried fish and kelp stock), kombu dashi (kelp stock) or water
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) sake
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) mirin
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. Japanese soy sauce
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 4 coins peeled ginger, each about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
- 4 skin-on black cod fillets, each about 4 oz. (125 g)
- 1/4 lb. (125 g) drained medium-firm tofu, cut into 4 equal pieces
1. In a fry pan or Dutch oven over high heat, combine the dashi, sake, mirin, soy sauce, sugar and ginger and bring to a boil. Add the fish to the pan, skin side up, in a single layer and cover with a piece of foil crimped into a round about 2 inches (5 cm) smaller in diameter than the pan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes. The fish will be fully cooked after about 8 minutes; the longer cooking time is meant to infuse the fish with the flavor of the cooking liquid.
2. Remove the foil, transfer the fish to a plate and increase the heat to bring the liquid to a boil. Add the tofu to the pan and cook, turning once, until the liquid reduces slightly and its flavor intensifies, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Return the fish to the pan and continue cooking, basting constantly with a spoon, for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Serve immediately in shallow bowls with some of the cooking liquid. Or, even better, remove from the heat, cover with the crimped foil and let the fish sit for 10 to 15 minutes, so the fish absorbs even more flavor from the sauce. Serves 4.
Morimoto’s Perfect Sushi Rice
For the sushi vinegar:
- One 2-inch (5-cm) piece of kombu (dried kelp)
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz./35 g) kosher salt
For the rice:
- 3 cups (21 oz./655 g) short-grain white rice (“sushi rice”)
1. To make the sushi vinegar, briefly and gently wipe the kombu with a damp towel to remove any dirt or grit, but do not scrub off the white stuff, which is full of umami.
2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and kombu in a small saucepan and set it over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, just until the sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Do not let it boil. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
3. Measure 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the vinegar mixture and set it aside. Store the rest, including the kombu, in an airtight container in the fridge for up to several months.
4. To make the rice, put the rice in a large mixing bowl and add enough water to cover the rice by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Use your hands to stir and agitate the rice to release the starch from the exterior of the grains. Empty the water, fill the bowl again and repeat the process until the fresh water no longer becomes cloudy when you stir the rice. Drain the rice in a mesh strainer, shaking well to help drain any excess water. Let the rice sit in the strainer, stirring it once or twice, until it’s more or less dry to the touch, 15 to 30 minutes.
5. Combine the rice and 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) fresh water in a rice cooker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
6. While the rice is hot, gently scoop it into a bowl. Sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup sushi vinegar over the rice. Gently fold the rice to make sure the vinegar is well distributed without smashing the grains. Cover with a clean kitchen towel pressed to the surface of the rice and let the rice cool to just slightly above room temperature before using. Makes about 8 cups (2 1/2 lb./1.25 kg) rice.
Adapted from Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, by Masaharu Morimoto (Ecco, 2016)