Chef Rika is not only a reputable chef around the world, but she is also a co-host of the show, Dining with the Chef, a signature lifestyle and cooking program on NHK WORLD TV. In the series, Chef Rika demonstrates easy original Japanese recipes and enlightens viewers about Japanese food culture. She also introduces Japanese food that is now drawing attention in the U.S. and abroad. Chef Rika proposes her own easy-to-make- Japanese recipes from healthy eating, back to school lunch boxes, new tailgating items at your favorite football or sporting games, to just name a couple. She offers amazing ideas too, alternatives to items and utensils that might be hard to obtain, so you can make your own Japanese-style food wherever you go! She is a “cooking researcher” who uses her own original techniques to introduce cooking that everyone can enjoy.
A native of Fukuoka, Japan, Chef Rika has published 49 food and lifestyle books, many of which are best sellers and translated into Korean and Chinese. Chef Rika also owns and operates a steakhouse in Ginza, Tokyo. A fluent speaker in English as well as Japanese, Chef Rika is one of the most talented Chef’s in the kitchen!
Chef Rika attended Taste LA at Paramount Studios on September 4 and shared her inspiration and tips.
What’s your inspiration behind creating the kushiage skewers and tonkatsu sandwiches?
For kushiage, my inspiration is wine. All kinds of wine. Before I started making kushi katsu, I think of which wine pairs best. If I’m choosing a sparkling wine, I’ll pair it with asparagus or chicory. For pinot noir, I choose salmon. For Cabernet, I’d pair it with beef and for Riesling, I’d choose pork. The tonkatsu sandwiches pair well with beer or whiskey highball.
Tips on preparing the Kushiage skewers and tonkatsu sandwiches
Using tempura flour and Japanese panko. You can easily get those at Amazon. Tempura flour contains corn starch, baking powder and dried egg yolk which is everything included to make the crispy texture. Japanese bread crumbs are different from American bread crumbs, it’s used with only the white part of the bread so when you fry it, it turns brown.
Three tips for at-home cooks to include Japanese technique into their meals
Use a good knife, particularly a cast steel or a sharp knife or stainless steel knife that doesn’t get much rust.
Use soft water. The taste of water is extremely important.
When you arrange the food, try to make a peak or mountain. In japan, we think arranging food is like making a garden. In front of the mountain, there has to be a river so it tells a story.
Chef Rika’s inspiration from having studied in U.S. as a teen and what elements of American cuisine she has incorporated into classic Japanese cooking
I try to judge if some dishes are better to use with either American or Japanese ingredients. Japanese porks and beefs have more fat so when I make kushi katsu (deep-fried dishes), I prefer American meat and California wine.
Rika’s inspiration in becoming a chef/cooking researcher
My inspiration is traveling around the world and eating something new. I recently went to the restaurant, Broken Spanish, and they have elevated ethnic food to another level. So when I see a revolution like that, I like to try it myself and I try to use local ingredients in the world and combine spices.
Favorite American dish
Steak. It’s really healthy. I own a restaurant in Tokyo and specialize in serving rib-eye steaks and California wine. We have experimented what kind of salt we should make and how much portion of oil and butter to use. We use three different kinds of salt – sea salt, French salt and towards the end we sprinkle English salt.
Cooking is about science. When you want to be good at one thing, you experiment over and over again.
Experience filming DWTC in LA
I have discovered so many things and experienced the food revolution here. People in LA are willing to change and accept different things. They are willing to go on to a different level. Whereas most countries, they stick to their own authentic foods. In LA, it’s different. Somehow with these fusions, there is a completely new cuisine, which is very inspirational. I feel like I could live in LA.