My friend Luiz is a terrific cook. He is also a blogger and food writer, that is how we are friends. He runs a wonderful supper club in his house (one of the best in London and in the most beautiful space). Last year his first cookbook was published, on Nikkei cuisine called Nikkei, Japanese Food the South American Way.
The Origins of Nikkei Cuisine
Luiz is from Sao Paulo in Brazil, of Italian and Japanese heritage. There was much immigration from Japan to South America, centred primarily in Peru, from the end of the 19th century. These Japanese immigrants are credited with refining Peruvian ceviche, which used to be left in the citrus marinade for hours. Now it is more like minutes and is a more delicate affair. Over the years a South American – Peruvian cuisine evolved, called Nikkei.
The origin of fusion pasta in Yokohama, Japan
Luiz has written a beautiful book showcasing this cuisine. There are many wonderful recipes in it, it was difficult to choose which to share. I couldn’t resist this spaghetti with mentaiko and clams. Some years back I visited Yokohama and the hotel where fusion pasta originated. Japan was a closed country for a long time, and as the countries biggest port, Yokahama had a greater exposure to the outside world. They discovered pasta and developed their own take on it, which is still very popular today.
One of my favourite things that they do with it, and what Luiz does here, is to incorporate mentaiko (chilli marinaded cod or pollock roe). It is a wonderful ingredient and used in many dishes in Japan. It gives a gorgeous depth of flavour, a zing and a bright sweetness. It goes particularly well with clams and an umami rich ingredient like parmesan. Japanese mayo is used to emulsify the sauce, I recommend you seek it out. It has more of a salad cream flavour and is terrific. Luiz includes a recipe for making it from scratch in his book, Nikkei, too.
Mentaiko is available in Japanese food shops, often in the freezer section. You can also order it from specialists online.
This is a wonderful recipe, and perfect for summer. Enjoy it!
Recipe below from Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara. Published by Jacqui Small (£25). Jacqui Small sent me a review copy.
- 300g (10½oz) clams
- 35g (1¼oz/2¼ tbsp) butter
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 340g (11¾oz) dried spaghetti
- 125g (4¼oz) mentaiko (chilli-marinated cod or pollock roe)
- 50g (1¾oz/¼ cup) ready-made Japanese mayonnaise (it has more of a salad cream taste)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp shichimi pepper, plus
- extra to garnish
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
- 4 tbsp finely chopped chives
- a little kizami nori, to garnish
- 1 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds, to garnish