Samui Wining & Dining
Do it Yourself!

Suikin Japanese restaurant’s Executive Chef, Goro Takatsu, helps you create your very own Japanese menu for friends and family at home.

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Most people like to cook. For some, it’s simply about making tried and tested favourites. But for others, creating dishes is almost a passion. And learning about different styles of cuisine is a large part of the interest. Cooking classes are perennially popular with visitors at all the reputable resorts, and it’s not just Thai food that people want to discover more about.

       Samui has restaurants that serve the national and regional dishes of dozens of countries. And Japanese cuisine is very much in vogue right now. Its simplicity, distinct flavours and fresh ingredients make it an ideal choice for the health-conscious and the gourmet. And Suikin restaurant at the akyra Chura Samui resort on the northern end of Chaweng Beach Road is a great place to enjoy the authentic tastes and aromas of Japan.

       Leading the kitchen brigade at Suikin is Executive Chef, Goro Takatsu. He spent ten years in his native city of Nagoya developing his craft before opening Japanese restaurants in Mexico, Spain, Bangkok and now Samui. And he runs regular cooking classes in the restaurant for visitors to the island. Unless you have some knowledge about Japanese preparation techniques, following a recipe is not as straightforward as it is for, say, a Thai green curry. And that’s why he recommends taking a cooking class to get some of the basics right.

       Two of his favourite dishes to teach beginners are a ‘Sashimi of Fresh Fish’ as an appetizer and ‘Rice Japanese-style with Seafood served on a hot plate’. “Fresh fish is a staple of Japanese cuisine,” says Chef Goro, “And it’s abundant and just as popular in Thailand, particularly on Samui. Each morning I visit the local market and pick out fish like mullet, grouper and sea bream which are perfect for sashimi. Understanding how to identify the best quality and freshest fish is very important and in the classes I give some tips on what to look for at the fish market. And for this appetizer, it’s also key to have the right accompanying vegetables and condiments. White turnip, carrot, seaweed, ohba leaves and wasabi are all readily available in supermarkets and Asian food stores in most countries all year round.”

       Sashimi is a well-known delicacy consisting of very fresh meat, most commonly fish, sliced into thin pieces. The word sashimi has been integrated into the English language and is often used to refer to other uncooked fish preparations. Many non- Japanese use the terms sashimi and sushi interchangeably, but the two dishes are actually distinct and separate. Sushi refers to any dish made with vinegared rice, and whilst raw fish is one traditional sushi ingredient, many sushi dishes contain seafood that has been cooked and others have no seafood at all. It’s an important distinction that all enthusiastic cooks should know.

       Not everyone, however, is keen on raw fish. And so Chef Goro’s second dish uses lightly cooked tuna, salmon, scallops and local Samui fish which have been marinated in sweet soy sauce. To prepare the Japanese rice you need to steam it first and then superficially ‘burn’ or ‘caramelise’ it. It’s based on the Korean dish ‘bibimbap’ but with uniquely Japanese flavours. And the fish can be substituted with beef, pork or even chicken. Chef Goro is happy to suggest some dishes for you to learn how to prepare and cook based on your culinary preferences and experience. And the emphasis is on learning by having fun and, of course, enjoying the fruits of your labour afterwards.

       New experiences are what make life all the more interesting. And if they include eating dishes you have created yourself, then it’s time well spent.

 

Rob De Wet


 


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