Friday, 18 October 2013

Kikkoman in the (Sushi) Balls

Yeouch! Ok, I know it's generally sushi rolls, rather than balls, but I couldn't resist! I love a pun...

I had a wonderful evening as a guest of Mr Bing, CEO of Kikkoman UK at Matsuri Restaurant in Bury St for a masterclass in sushi making by Head Chef Hiroshi Sudo, a demonstration by Kikkoman Ambassador Simon Hulstone, and meeting a bunch of food bloggers who all got a little, well, saucy!

Kikkoman Soy Sauce, I'm happy to say, is a naturally brewed soy sauce with only four ingredients, soybeans, wheat, salt and water which appeal to all of our senses, sweet, sour, bitter and salty, as well as the lesser known savoury sensation that is 'umami'. Umami gives Kikkoman its special typical flavour making it different from other soy sauces, as we discovered in a blind taste test. The unanimous consensus was that it was lighter and more natural due to the non-chemical natural brewing process, and its rich, full flavour was mouth-watering yet delicate. Containing no sugar, it's ideal for marinading as well as to cook with on high temperatures. Read more about it on Emma Nutrition's blog.

teppanyaki grill
Simon at the Teppanyaki

This very act was demonstrated to us by Simon Hulstone, Michelin starred Chef and owner of The Elephant in Torquay where his 30+ acre farm provides the ingredients for his restaurant. He brought with him his home-grown tenderstem broccoli and some scallops from Devon. He quickly whizzed up a dressing by mixing soy, mirin, a touch of sesame oil, and whisking in olive oil, the soy sauce being the only seasoning required. The broccoli was grilled on the Teppanyaki for a few minutes, the scallops flash fried for a mere 30 seconds each side, caramelizing themselves, all drizzled with the dressing, et violá: Oishí!

simon hulstone
Scallop and Tenderstem Broccoli in Soy Sauce
Next we were shown some simple sushi rolling by Hiroshi Sudo,  Head Chef at Matsuri (Matsuri, incidentally, means 'Festival' in Japanese - it certainly was a feast!). Using a bamboo sushi mat, he deftly and expertly laid out nori, sticky rice, a tiny strip of wasabi, and the soy sauce marinated salmon, and rolled it up to a square shaped roll, and chopped it evenly into six pieces.

I had to ask Mr Sudo how the nori stayed in place, was it simply water or some inherent stickiness?
In answer, he had some nori brought out just for me to play with, where I was able to fold the rice up inside the seaweed and use a few grain of the rice as the natural edible adhesive. The rice is made so sticky by coating in sushi vinegar, made from rice wine, salt, and sugar.
My first ever sushi roll! Soy proud!

matsuri sushi
That's my sticky rice nigiri on the left! Isn't it perfect? No?
matsuri
Sushi at Matsuri
We were then served an assortment of sushi and rolls: tuna, salmon roe, white fish, and scallop nigiri, and salmon, tuna and spring onion rolls, with a daub of wasabi and pickled ginger as is traditional. My mouth is too small for sushi, I discovered, but that didn't stop me as we were robed in large white bibs on chains! All of us, not just me. To be fair, I needed it the most... Emma Nutrition can testify to that...

One Japanese dish I am familiar with is tempura, this lightly battered prawn, squid and vegetable dish was also served with Kikkoman to dip. Soy sauce in each course, it is possible (I'm thinking of dessert...?)

matsuri tempura
Tempura

angus steak
Teppanyaki Chef
For the main course, four chefs appeared to cook for us at the Teppanyaki, right there in front of us. We were offered a choice of Ginger-Marinated Alaskan Black Cod or Scottish Angus Dry Aged Fillet Steak. Steak for me please Chef, medium rare. Served with a ginger, soy and cream dip, with green and white asparagus, and a Japanese style vegetable dish, Kikkoman-infused, of course. Beautifully cooked, tender, and yes, I'm going to say it, soyalicious. Not over-poweringly so, just very subtle.
I also tasted the cod (courtesy of The Food Curator - cheers Michael!), which was like no other cod I've ever tasted. A tough call.


Angus Fillet Steak
Teppanyaki cooked



























Peach dessert wine
Just when you think you can't fit anything else in, along comes dessert. Surely there is no way they can incorporate soy sauce into this last dish? Well, yes there is. Our Fire-Ball Ice Cream, served with caramelized pineapple (grilled right there with the soy) and pancakes, was phenomenal - doused in brandy (although don't quote me on this - I was feeling the effects of the rather delicious peach wine at this stage!) there was a fire-ball moment, a communal whoop, and yes, there's always room for dessert, especially one as delectable as this.



Cooking Ice Cream? Whatever next...

...Oh. FireBall Ice Cream
Simon Hulstone must have thought I was Peach Wine infused alright, claiming I was off to 'cook some sushi'...

Try out a Kikkoman recipe for Meatballs and Pea Pilaf here.
Or even a Pad Thai with Salmon