After a pretty cruisy first day in Tokyo, we threw ourselves into the deep end and went on a private tour of Tsukiji Market—the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. The Japanese diet includes plenty of the ocean’s produce, so, we wanted to see firsthand, where the Japanese source their ingredients from. In Australia, we don’t often know where our food comes from and just purchase it from the supermarket prepackaged, so this was definitely a unique experience.
There was so much to process as we explored tons of fresh produce from the sea in the hustle and bustle of Tsukiji Market. The inner market was a labyrinth full of wonders, from supersized octopus legs, to toxic puffer fish waiting to be skillfully prepared by veteran chefs. We even got to see a massive 60kg bluefin tuna being filleted by a market worker wielding a sword-like knife, which was one-metre-long, with delicate precision. They told us that the blade of the knife bends, so that it can cut really close to the bone to reduce wastage.
After our tour, we were treated to a delicious sushi lunch at a restaurant in the market itself. Using produce straight from the market, we got a taste of the freshest seafood we could get. We enjoyed all the dishes, like a platter of sushi made from fresh tuna and grilled scallop cooked and served right from the shell.
Watch how grilled scallop is cooked and served in its shell:
Even though we thought we were full, once we stepped out into the outer market, there was still so much food we wanted to try. From giant oysters, to Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette), and Ichigo Daifuku (strawberry glutinous rice balls) filled with red bean and custard, we sampled a whole range of what was on offer.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay there for long to try all the food. Our next pit stop on the COOK SNAP WIN 2018 journey in Tokyo was the Kewpie Mayo Terrace—a whole museum dedicated to the iconic Japanese mayonnaise brand. Our tour here started off by walking into a room literally shaped as a giant bottle of mayo called the ‘Mayonnaise Dome’, completed by a giant bottle cap as the entrance. Only in Japan could you find something like this.
Inside the bottle, we learnt all about the secrets of Kewpie Mayonnaise and what makes it taste so good. After this was a short Factory Walk, which showed us the process of how this condiment is made, emulating the product of Kewpie Mayo in the actual factory. At the end of our tour, we got to create some of our own concoctions in the Kewpie Kitchen by combining Kewpie with other condiments. Most importantly, we got to taste some too! Kewpie Mayo with marmalade, which might sound gross on paper, tasted really nice as a salad dressing.
To celebrate our COOK SNAP WIN 2018 winners, we finished off our second day in Tokyo with a fine dining experience at Hal Yamashita, where we got to experience a kaiseki—a traditional Japanese multi-course meal. On offer was a series of intricate Japanese fusion dishes that highlighted the beautiful ingredients from Chef Hal Yamashita’s home town Kobe—delicate slices of fresh Japanese horse mackerel, sea urchin wrapped in Kobe beef and topped with smoked caviar, salmon with coffee rub and salmon roe, Ochazuke with red snapper and tuna sashimi, and much more. And to top it all off, we even got to meet the two chefs behind our exquisite meal—Chefs Hal Yamashita, the eponymous chef of the restaurant, and Shinsuke Yonekawa, the winner of Iron Chef Thailand. This kaiseki was definitely an unforgettable moment on our trip.
With full stomachs, we soon went to bed to get plenty of rest for an early start the next day.
Chirashizushi (Scattered Sushi)
- 2¼ cups short-grain rice (season with ¼ cup rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt)
- 8 dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked in 2 cups of warm water – keep the water for cooking)
- 3 eggs and ½ tbsp sugar
- 1 cucumber (julienned)
- 220g sashimi (sushi-grade tuna/salmon slices, marinated in 2 tbsp of soy sauce)
- 50g crab sticks (shredded)
- 3 tbsp ikura (salmon roe)
- 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp mirin
- Cook sushi rice according to instructions on rice packaging. Add ¼ cup rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt to the cooked rice. Using a wooden spatula, fold the seasoning into the rice.
- Gently squeeze shiitake mushrooms to drain water, remove stems and slice thinly. In a medium pan, heat 160ml water used for soaking the mushrooms. Then add shiitake, soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Simmer on low heat until the liquid is almost dried up. Set aside.
- In a bowl, beat eggs and add ½ tbsp sugar. Continue mixing until sugar dissolves. In a medium skillet, evenly oil the surface and heat over medium heat. Pour a scoop of egg mixture into the skillet to make a thin crepe-like omelette. Repeat until egg mixture is used up. To slice, roll up the omelettes and slice into thin strips.
- Serve sushi rice on a large plate or individual bowls. Scatter simmered shiitake, shredded crab sticks, sliced omelette, and cucumber over rice. Top with sashimi slices, ikura and sesame seeds. Serve with pickled ginger on the side.