26 Jun 2017

Crispy, crunchy, salty, umami

From Nine To Noon, 11:36 am on 26 June 2017

Flamed edamame, chicken kara-age buns, tea-smoked pork scratchings, tuna sashimi pizza... Australian chef Scott Hallsworth plays with culinary decorum in his new cookbook Junk Food Japan.

Hallsworth grew up in Australian mining town and says he hadn't even heard of sushi until he was 15.

He was turned on to Japanese food after stumbling upon the iconic Japanese restaurant Nobu while on a visit to London.

"Everything was so incredible and so intriguing – that was it for me."

He went on to become head chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant for six years, before starting his own Kurobuta restaurants.

The book's title was intended as a playful way to remove the stigma around Japanese dining, he says.

"For a long time, particularly in London, people thought of Japanese cuisine as only at the high end."

Japanese people often find his food eye-opening in its disregard for the rules of their cuisine, but Hallsworth says he's cooking for Londoners who like their deep-fried food crunchy.

Check out Scott Hallsworth's recipe for Chicken Kara-age Buns.

Some key ingredients for Japanese junk food:

  • Japanese soy sauce (which is generally brewed for two years, while Chinese soy sauce is created chemically in about two weeks) "Night and day," says Hallsworth. "Kikkoman is a pretty decent one."
  • ponzu - citrus-flavoured soy
  • kombu (giant kelp from the north of Japan)
  • miso paste