Nobu Now: a cooking style all its own

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He was trained in the art of sushi in Japan, but began his restaurant experience in Peru. The first restaurant he owned in Alaska burned to the ground. Today, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa heads a chain of a dozen restaurants in several countries, and his newest cookbook, Nobu Now, reflects his deep interest in world cuisines.

“The moment I left Japan for Peru, 30 years ago, was the first step in what has now become the globally evolving ‘Nobu,’” writes Matsuhisa in the book’s introduction. “All over the world there are remarkable ingredients and cooking methods that can surprise us,” he adds.

Nobu Now looks at world cuisines through the eyes and palate of this exceptional sushi chef. White Asparagus and Sea Bass Sashimi with Mint Dressing is a good example. White asparagus spears are simmered in milk, chilled and topped with a dressing of mint leaves, virgin olive oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. All of this is crowned with skinless, boneless sea bass.

Parmesan Baked Small Scallops take on an Italian flavor with a simple combination of Parmesan, garlic, parsley, and soy sauce seasonings, while Baby Scallop Skewers with Vegetable Salsa serve lightly seared scallops on a tomato-yuzu juice salsa.

Baby Spinach Salad with Sea Bass makes a nest of bright green spinach leaves for fresh sea bass roses in a basket of deep-fried shredded filo. All are topped with salmon roe and yuzu dressing.

Japanese Kobe beef appears in several recipes including Kobe Beef New-Style Sashimi. Here slices of this gourmet meat are sprinkled with garlic, ginger, chives, sesame seeds, and yuzu soy sauce, then drizzled with hot olive and sesame oils.

At the other end of the globe, Arroz con Pollo is truly Peruvian with chicken pieces cooked in rice and beer.

Shredded filo makes several appearances throughout the book including use as wrap for oysters in Oyster Filo.

Truffles, jalapeños, miso, soba, black rice, foie gras, and Jell-O all seem at home with sushi and sashimi in Matsuhisa’s hands and he makes the recipes easy enough for the average cook to follow. The trick will be finding ingredients or usable substitutes.

Nobu Now is a beautiful 256-page book filled with color photographs and lots of helpful hints. A glossary explains many of the unusual ingredients and offers some substitution options. It makes a nice coffee table book or a terrific addition to the serious cook’s library. The hardcover edition, published in 2004 by Clarkson Potter, is available in bookstores at $45 or at Amazon.com for $29.70.

Food Note:
Many of the Asian ingredients called for in Nobu Now are available at local Asian markets including Shuang Hur on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis and on University Avenue in St. Paul. Call for information and hours 612-872-8606. Or check United Noodles near Minnehaha and 24th in Minneapolis, 612-721-6677. One of the best resources for seafood and a local source for Kobe beef is Coastal Seafoods in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Wayzata. Check their website or call 612-724-5911 for information and hours.

Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the Web site at www.asianculinaryarts.com.

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