Home » London Book Review - Non Fiction » Book Review – Nikkei Cuisine : Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara ( Jacqui Small Publishers)

Book Review – Nikkei Cuisine : Japanese Food the South American Way by Luiz Hara ( Jacqui Small Publishers)



London like many cities has its fair share of food fashions and fads, over the last three years Nikkei has been one of the buzz words of the London food scene. For the many people who know little about the Nikkei cuisine, This book Nikkei Cuisine: Japanese Food the South American Way explains about the origins of the cuisine and provides over 100 recipes. The author, Luiz Hara is a food writer, chef and the man behind the influential blog, The London Foodie and is one of the best authorities on Nikkei cuisine in London.

The  author explains that Nikkei is derived from the Japanese word ‘nikkeijn’ which refers to Japanese people who migrated overseas and their descendents, therefore Nikkei cuisine is the cooking of the Japanese diaspora. Although Nikkei cuisine is a general term, it is more often applied to the food created by the Japanese immigrants in Brazil and Peru. Brazil has the largest Japanese population of any country outside of Japan, the author’s grandparents migrated to Brazil and he was bought up in São Paulo. Peru has a smaller Nikkei population but has a vibrant Nikkei cooking culture.

The origins of Nikkei cuisine was born out necessity because the first Japanese immigrants found the South American cuisines not to their liking and began to develop dishes that used local ingredients but cooked in the Japanese way. Eventually the immigrants began to bring in and grow fruit and vegetables from Japan which had a considerable impact on the host countries agriculture. In the 1970s and 1980s, Japanese multinationals began opening factories in South America, to cater for these new arrivals a number of Japanese chefs including Nobu Matsuhisa, Torisho Konishi and Takatomo Hachinohe were recruited who were influential in the modern development of Nikkei cuisine.

The move from the homemade Nikkei cooking to restaurant cuisine has led to Nikkei gaining popularity in Europe and the USA, the last decade has seen the emergence of a number of outstanding Nikkei chefs and restaurants all over the world, most notably the Pakta in Barcelona by Albert and Ferran Adria. London has seen a series of Nikkei restaurants including Chotto Matte and Sushisamba.

The author has played his part in spreading the word of Nikkei cuisine with his London supper clubs, central to his approach is adopting the Japanese washoku philosophy of providing a balanced meal. He provides a selection of recipes that will allow the reader to arrange a menu that incorporates a range of different colours, flavours and cooking methods. A balanced Nikkei meal should start to with two or three different small eats, including a soup and a raw fish tiradito os sashimi, followed by another fish or meat dish accompanied by rice and vegetables, finishing with a dessert.

The book then features recipes in the sections that include Small Eats, Sushi, Traditos &  Ceviches, Rice & Noodles, Soups and Hotpots, Mains, Vegetables, Salads & Tofu and finally Desserts. Therefore if you are attempting a balanced Nikkei meal using the recipes in the book, a sample menu could include deep fried chicken nanban, causa of baby cuttlefish or pasteis of chicken,cream cheese & green olives followed by miso soup and tuna sashimi tostado. For the mains grilled halibut with white miso accompanied by grilled aubergines with miso dengaku & mozzarello. To finish perhaps a green tea ice cream. However, one of the main features of the Nikkei cuisine is its adaptability which allows individuals to create their own menu for  a light or more extensive meal.

The final part of the book gives advice if you would like to attempt Nikkei cuisine in your own kitchen, there is  sections on Mastering the Basics, Specialist Nikkei ingredients, Equipment and a useful Directory of Suppliers.

This intriguing and authoritative cookery book with a large number of attractive photographs introduces many readers to the delights of Nikkei Cuisine, it’s a cuisine that began as a ‘marriage of  convenience ‘ between two cuisines that had little in common. Out of this has developed a lasting relationship in which dishes have been tried and tested for over a century, the popularity  of the cuisine in South America has now been extended to the rest of the world. For those new to the cuisine, this provides you with all the knowledge you need to develop your interest and explore one of the more exciting new developments in the London food scene.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more or buy a copy of the book, visit the Jacqui Small website here

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