Saturday, December 09, 2006

Grain Ideas

The whole world loves sushi. It’s healthy, it’s wholesome and virtually you can play anyway around it, with it and still have a great morsel to bite on. You can roll in, invert it, cone it and even shape it to your fancy. It can be vegetarian, paired with raw or cooked meat and seafood and beyond Japanese flavours, sushi has gone cosmopolitan which incorporates many other Asian influences of flavours. It allows the Chef to express his creativity to the fullest and calls for a refinement in skills when it comes to presentation and serving. All sushi must contain vinegared short grain rice and most of the time; they are wrapped with seaweed though there could also be some different variations occasionally.

As the whole world embraces the mushrooming of Japanese restaurants globally, Chefs are inspired to make new types of combinations and creations to keep customers happy and interested. Beyond the traditional raw seafood toppings and regular maki rolls, Chefs have also introduced foie gras, steak, smoked salmon, proscuitto and even ceviche as new sushi ideas. Undisputedly, the culinary world takes references from cosmopolitan sushi masters like Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu,Ubon) and Tetsuya Wakuda (Tetsuya’s) for new and trendy ideas. Out of traditional borders, Chefs now experiment with all kinds of ingredients and come out with different types of sauces for taste and creative presentation of the new ideas. While traditional sushi and makis will remain as anchor items in every decent Japanese restaurant menu, Chefs are also beginning to realize that these new creations are proving to be an important significant increase to their bottom line due to their popularity and customers’ adventurous curiosity.

There are many rice pairing recipes under the Asian umbrella of cuisines and flavours. Asia being the biggest rice eating continent has many traditional dishes that are eaten or cooked with rice and these provide the platform for the next generation of creative money spinning ideas when menus need to be revamped. There are no right and wrongs in cooking and creating new dishes. Chefs need to use their experience and instinct to come out with the right balance in taste, flavours, presentation, cost issues and feasibility in execution during peak service hours.

From spicy toppings to bland ingredients that require “jerk” sauces to uplift flavours, Chefs will have to find their own unique creations in their own playgrounds while tapping on the multi channels communication media to see what is catching on with customers of today restaurants. They will still need to respect the characteristics of each ingredient and the aesthetics of different cuisines which is often used as background reference to new recipes development.

Chefs cannot ignore “the naturally made in heaven marriages” of certain ingredients like ginger and soy, but they can always refer back to such pairings when creating new ideas through ingredient substitutions, alterations or proportionate adjustments to achieve taste and presentation for new recipes. For example, a tempura battered seaweed roll when sliced across, may served as a platform for a spicy ginger marinated raw tuna topping providing visual presentation of colours and food styling.

Hence, “one should go forth and multiply!”

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