In a nutshell
Luiz Hara’s Nikkei supper club is Japanese-South American fusion home cooking at its best. Course after course of consistently impeccable dishes are served in the open kitchen of an Islington town house.
Born in Brazil, Luiz Hara’s Japanese and Italian heritage has given him plenty of inspiration for his Nikkei cuisine. After leaving a career in The City, Luiz trained at Cordon Bleu and now hosts Japanese and French supper clubs at his Islington home.
True to his roots, Luiz’s menu focuses on Japanese fusion Nikkei cuisine – the home cooking of Japanese immigrants living in South America, particularly Brazil and Peru. The supper club is an eight-course tasting menu with generous portions; so don’t fill yourself up too much on the gyoza and popcorn canapés.
Nikkei surf and turf was a trio of nigiri with a Southern American twist – foie gras blow-torched at the table with garlic-teriyaki sauce; slightly seared salmon with a soft pink centre served with punchy aji amarillo cream; and grilled scallop in its shell served on sushi rice.
Oyster mushroom, pepper and courgette flower tempura was super light and crisp, the latter with a scallop, tofu and zingy lemon mousse filling. After the roll-call of beautifully presented starters, the main was served Nikkei family style – a huge donate claypot of rice and sea bream fillets. Luiz poured over a citrusy yuzu and green jalapeño dressing and mixed everything up to serve. We enjoyed this hearty, fresh dish so much that we’ve included the recipe below.
What’s the room like?
We don’t want to ruin the surprise, or Luiz’s treasured secret identity, so we won’t go into too much detail… but the East London townhouse is beautiful, cosy and extremely welcoming. We sipped on our G&T in the living room that was dotted with photographs and mementos from Luiz’s travels. Supper was served downstairs in the open kitchen on long tables with handmade cloth napkins and chopsticks to mark the place settings. Little glass jars filled with intense pink roses and white alstromeria with deep pink speckles give a fresh, bright lift to the table.
By Alex Crossley
Nikkei Sea Bream with Yuzu & Green Jalapeño Rice
short-grain white rice 600g
dashi or water 550ml
light soy sauce 100ml
root ginger 2.5cm piece, peeled and cut into fine julienne strips
sea bream fillets 4, scaled and pin-boned
sansho pepper a sprinkle
For the yuzu & green jalapeno dressing
green jalapeño chilli 1, deseeded and finely chopped
finely chopped spring onions 4 tbsp
yuzu juice 4 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil 4 tbsp
Wash the rice in a bowl with plenty of fresh water using a circular motion with your hand. Drain the water and repeat this rinsing three or four times until the water runs clear. Let the rice drain in a colander for at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the soaking and cooking broth. Combine the dashi or water, mirin and light soy sauce and set aside. Soak the drained rice in the cooking broth in a clay pot or a rice cooker (see below) for 30 minutes.
Up to this stage, this rice is a traditional Japanese tai gohan or Japanese sea bream rice and can be served as it is – it will taste delicious. But for added va-va-voom, I like serving this with a yuzu and green jalapeno dressing, which I pour over the fish and rice just before serving. To make the dressing just put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together well.
Take the unopened clay pot to the table, open it in front of your guests and, if desired, carefully remove the skin of the fish. Pour the dressing over the fish and rice then using a wide wooden spoon, fluff the rice well, breaking the fish into tiny pieces and mixing it together with the dressing into the rice. Mix thoroughly. If you are using a rice cooker, follow all the above steps but do not take the rice cooker to the table!
Make all the necessary preparations and serve the rice in individual bowls at the table. To serve, place the rice in individual rice bowls, top with the remaining julienned ginger in the centre of each bowl followed by a sprinkle of sansho pepper and serve immediately.
*Rice cooker method – After the soaking and before cooking, scatter half of the ginger strips over the rice, lay the sea bream fillets on top and turn the rice cooker on. It should take about 15–20 minutes to cook. Once the rice cooker’s alarm beeps indicating that the rice is cooked, let the rice rest for at least 15 minutes before opening the rice cooker.
*Claypot method – Tightly wrap a tea-towel (dish towel) over the lid of a Japanese clay pot (known as donabe) or if you do not have one you can use a heavy casserole pan (Dutch oven). After the soaking and before cooking, scatter half of the ginger strips over the rice, lay the sea bream fillets on the top (I like to arrange the fillets to look like an open flower), place the lid on top and bring to the boil. Once boiling, bring the temperature down to the lowest setting and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, and without opening the lid (don’t open the lid at any stage of the cooking process), rest for a further 15 minutes.
Nikkei Cuisine – Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara is published by Jacqui Small on 22nd October, £25. Available for pre-order here.
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