Modernist Cuisine

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I think many people have the wrong idea of what “Modernist Cuisine” truly is.  It is not about manipulation or using chemicals, these chemicals are nothing new, they have been around for decades, most of them a way to preserve and increase shelf life/yield during the commercialization of food products.  But “Modernist Cuisine” is about improving and understanding our products intimately.  It is about utilizing technology and research materials available today to further cuisine and our field.  This can encompass everything from finding new ingredients to consume or finding a different and better way to draw out Mother Nature’s nuances or assuring integrity of products.  It is about respecting Nature and our Purveyors and Farmers.  For example, vacuum sealing products to prevent oxidation, cryogenic freezing to inhibit cellular activity within proteins, or using pressure cooker to increase boiling point to speed up stock making.  All these things assure that we waste less resources and products.  And all these things were developed through research and technology; and people taking risks.  Without risk takers, we would not have most things that we take for granted like cell phones, computers, cars, planes, and etc.  Another good example of utilization of technology and research is the medical field.  Because of the knowledge we possess, people are healthier with better diets and are able to live longer.  The research done by Chefs who practice “Modernist Cuisine” are meant to inspire and show what could be.  I feel it is our duty to be resourceful, honor their research, and improve upon our organic field of cuisine.  At the end of the day, food needs to be tasty, and “Modernist Cuisine” is about improvement of Nature.  Practice “Modernist Cuisine” wisely and with respect.

My favorite Pork Belly Recipe

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6 Day Pork Belly
1.      Trim and brine – 48 hours with 10% salt, 2% trisodium citrate, 0.15% sodium nitrite
2.      Rinse and soak in cold water – 30 minutes.  Note:  Change Water Every 10 minutes
3.      Dry and sear with kosher salt.  Note:  Maillard Reaction
4.      Seal with Pork Jus at full vacuum.
5.      Cook at 83 C for 5 – 7 minutes.  Note:  Denatures Lacto Bacteria
6.      Cook at 56 C for 72 hours.
7.      Perform proper cooling stage.
8.      Rest for 24 hours.  Note:  Flavor Maturation
5-Spice Brine
Yield:  ~11 L for 18 kg of protein
Ingredients:
85 g thyme, fresh
85 g rosemary, fresh
12 ea bay leaves, fresh
4 ea oranges, zest only
4 ea lemons, zest only
340 g garlic, crushed
400 g ginger, peeled weight
170 g coriander seeds
175 g Szechuan peppercorns
100 g Vietnamese cinnamon
50 g fennel seeds
15 g star anise
6 g cloves
1100 g kosher salt (10%)
11 kg water
220 g trisodium citrate (2%)
16.5 g sodium nitrite (0.15%)
Method:
1.      Toast all spices at 300 F until aromatic.
2.      Place all herbs, citrus zests, garlic, and spices into a robot coupe and rough chop.
3.      Tie mixture into a sachet and place into a pot with salt, and water.
4.      Bring mixture to a boil and make sure all the salt has dissolved, and take off heat.
5.      Cool to room temperature and add the sodium citrate and sodium nitrite; and pour over protein in an airtight plastic container, and place in a refrigerator for 48 h.
6.      Rinse proteins well and soak in cold water for 30 minutes, changing the water every 10 minutes allowing the absorption of water.
7.      Drain and dry protein with a food service towel, and reserve until needed.

Japanese Inspired Cuisine

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Although my cuisine is not 100% Japanese, it does contain the underlying soul of it.  Meaning, saying something is Japanese does not necessarily need to consist purely of Japanese ingredients.  I utilize its’ culture, the art of ikebana, and philosophy of wabi sabi to give my guests the feel of “Japanese Inspired Cuisine,” while integrating western ingredients.  After all, we are in California and seasonality is Key!  In my opinion, the soul and identity of the cuisine is the most important aspect.

I draw inspirations from my mother and the Japanese culture I was born into.  She was in the culinary business when I was young, and she is incredible in the kitchen.  Her food is deeply rooted in traditional Japanese cuisine, Washoku.  Through her, I gained appreciation for high quality ingredients, tools, and Japanese knives at a very young age.  Watching her cook really allows me to see the concept of “Less is More.”  Everything she makes is full of love, passion, precision, and simplicity.  Well cooked and tasty!  Some favorites are:  Brown Butter, Soy Sauce & Sake Steamed Baby Abalone in Tangine, Wa-Gyu Beef Curry with Yakitori-Grilled Asparagus, Ika-Meshi (Squid Stuffed with Rice), Steamed Bamboo Rice, Coca Cola Katsu Beef with Sautéed Bok Choy & White Pepper, Saikyo Miso Soup with Crab & Tokyo Scallions, and Sticky Rice with Marinated Pork, Shiitake Mushrooms & Dried Shrimp.  There are so many, but I gotta stop before I get REALLY hungry.
Regarding plating, I am very fond of flowers and the Japanese art of Ikebana.  Watching a talented florist arrange flowers gives inspiration.  So organic, yet extremely technical, surgical like in many ways.  It is whimsical but calculating as every piece is measured and placed purposefully.  It is about finding beauty in imperfections as perfection does not and cannot exist.  In two words, “Controlled Chaos” defines my style!  And the Phoenix and Cherry Blossom on my Facebook page symbolizes endless cycle.  In this case, endless pursuit, moving and improving constantly.  A phoenix cannot be destroyed, it is immortal in a sense; and a cherry blossom tree blooms with such life and grandeur once a year endlessly.  These aspects define my cuisine and culinary philosophy.
But I do have a staple of Japanese ingredients that I love:  Tonburi from Akita, Sudachi from Tokushima, Yuzu from Miyazaki, Yuasa Soy Sauce and Umeboshi from Wakayama, Kombu and Seaweeds from Hokkaido, various Miso from Kyoto to name a few!

Reasons to Relocate to SF

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Over time, I have been asked, “why SF?”  My answer…..“it’s simple, this city will become the next NYC in the U.S.”  It only makes sense.  We have everything here.  A city and its’ surrounding areas bustling with intelligence, innovation, and most importantly an open mind.  It is a melting pot of different demographics from across the United States.  It is a unique city in which each part has its own soul and expression.  There is a strong sense of freedom and individuality here.

There is a strong synergy between city life and nature.  There is Santa Cruz and the Redwoods for those fond of hiking and other outdoor activities.  Napa and Sonoma is 1.5 hours north and Humboldt is nearby with its’ great California Creamery.  The best produce is grown here, it is quite amazing and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to reside in this city.  Being here, you are naturally inclined to be more cognizant of using local products and you are more aware of the intricacy of seasonality.  You are constantly exposed to limitless varieties of a single fruit, vegetable, or herb within its given harvest season.  Nowhere else in the U.S. will you find a selection this vast and abundant, and so accessible by the public.  And since I use seafood from Japan, it’s quality is unparalleled due to the minimal overnight commute to SFO and second only to getting it personally at Legendary Tokyo Tsukiji Market.

At the end of the day, if you’re in the Culinary Field, San Francisco is definitely one of cities to be in!!

Cheers!

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