Flavours of the Orient
The Telegraph
| Sunday, September 15, 2013 |


Here 'n' there

Published on 14 September 2013

Flavours of the Orient

  • Chef Eiji Edward Nakamoto

"I decided to become a chef because I wanted to go work overseas -- and I felt that cooking was the perfect passport," says Eiji Edward Nakamoto, assistant sous chef of Hana-Goyomi Japanese Restaurant, Swisstel Nankai Osaka who is in Calcutta for Swisstel's Japanese Food Festival. And having a mother who was a wizard in the kitchen, helped as she taught him a lot. Born in Tokyo, Nakamoto enrolled in the city's Hattori Nutrition College in 1986 at the age of 18 and learnt the nuances of French, Italian and Chinese cuisines.

Next he learnt about authentic Japanese kushiage -- Japanese take on deep-fried kebabs. Fresh out of cookery school in 1987, he joined Tokyo's Tatsukichi restaurant which specialises in the dish. "Kushiage are small bamboo-skewered cutlets," says the 45-year-old Nakamoto.

The much-awaited jump abroad came when he moved to the restaurant's branch in Massachusetts. He has since worked in the kitchens of Oga's Restaurant in Natick Massachusetts, Ayame-Kan (a Japanese- style inn) in Japan, and Norio's Sushi Bar in the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii (on the Kohala Coast inn Hawaii).

He's also an expert in turning out sushi. However, in his Osaka home he loves cooking Indian curries like chicken butter masala and chicken vindaloo, which he was introduced to during his stints in the US.

Right now a visiting chef he's busy rustling up (among other dishes) vegetable and crab sushi at Calcutta's Swisstel where a Japanese Food Festival is on (till September 18). It's open for buffet dinners and Sunday brunch. These he believes suit the Calcuttan palate. He shares some of his favourite recipes...

KARAAGE (Deep fried chicken with kuzu starch sauce)
(serves 10)

  • Karaage


1kg boneless chicken thigh

80g-90g grated ginger

1lt bonito dashi stock (This is a stock made of dried strips of bonito fish. This can be sourced on request from stores like Spencer's Retail. As a substitute, you could use fish bone stock that has been boiled gently for 15 minutes)

100ml of soy sauce

100ml Mirin (a Japanese condiment)

Sugar and red paprika to taste

Kuzu starch to coat (powdered starch made of the kuzu root. You can use cornflour as a substitute)


Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces and marinate with grated ginger and red paprika for at least half an hour. Mix the bonito stock with Mirin, soy and sugar. Add the chicken to this mixture and marinate well. Then coat the chicken in kuzu (inset) starch and deep fry. Serve hot.

(Serves 10)

  • Deep Fried Tofu


1kg tofu

80g grated ginger

50g chopped scallion

1lt oil to deep fry

1lt kombu (italics) kelp dashi (italics) stock (a stock made of seaweed. The seaweed is available in leaf or powdered form. As a substitute, one may use Knorr seasoning powder)

250ml Mirin

250ml soy sauce


Cut the tofu into small cubes and deep fry in the oil and set aside. Mix the stock, Mirin and soy sauce, bring the mixture to a boil in a pan and simmer for 15 minutes till it thickens slightly. Add tofu to it and sprinkle with ginger and scallions. Serve hot.