Rick Stein and the Japanese Ambassador


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Rick Stein and the Japanese Ambassador

Rick Stein goes on a voyage of discovery to the ultimate seafood lover's destination - Japan. On his return he promises to create a banquet fit for the Japanese ambassador.


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Transcript


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I'm at the Japanese Ambassador's residence in London.

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I'm about to prepare and cook a banquet for some of his guests.

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I've got to get it right and yet I've had no experience of cooking Japanese food, apart from tempura.

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So to say I'm apprehensive is a bit of an understatement.

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It's a fine kettle of fish I've got myself into this time.

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As a seafood cook, I'm constantly asked what I think of food in Japan.

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To which I say, "I've never been." "Well, that's like teaching French without having been to France.

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"You must go." So I'm here in Tokyo to find out the basics of Japanese cuisine.

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This will, I hope, help me create a banquet fit for their ambassador in London

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and all his sophisticated guests, where I hope nation shall speak food unto nation.

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'The whole thing started with a day's mackerel fishing off Padstow.

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'I was making sushi for a group of holidaymakers who'd never tried it.'

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Agh! Damn thing!

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'And I thought that no-one could get fresher mackerel than this.

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'But when the Japanese Ambassador saw what I was doing on the television, he told my friend,

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' "Rick Stein can grill a Dover sole, but he doesn't know much about sushi." '

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So what do you think?

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-Rather good.

-Yeah.

-Hmm.

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-Really nice.

-I was just thinking that this is about 30 quid's worth of sushi here,

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all from one mackerel.

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Cost - 5p? You get it on the restaurant straightaway!

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'That's how this banquet idea started. I met Ambassador Nogami and realised he was a true gourmet

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'and suggested the idea of going to Japan and coming back and cooking dinner for him and his friends.'

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Ambassador, what do you think I should be looking out for in Japanese cuisine?

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I think if you could sort of grasp what lies behind Japanese food.

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The, uh... Japanese food...

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..is based on seasonality and we appreciate the quality of produce

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and the freshness of our produce.

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And also our food is always very much closely linked to the seasonal changes.

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This idea of cooking the banquet - I know very little about Japanese cooking.

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-Do you think I'm mad?

-No. Not at all. I don't think that the British audience

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would like to see you cooking, you know, exactly like the Japanese do,

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but the spirit of Japanese cooking.

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'And so it was that I found myself in the world of Bill Murray in that lovely film, Lost In Translation.

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'This is where ritual and custom and extreme politeness are the order of the day.'

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Welcome to Japan and Tokyo and Royal Park Hotel.

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'Right from the start, I had an inkling that I was being made a fuss of.

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'I'm sure they think I'm terribly important, more than a TV cook from Cornwall.

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'But what they don't know won't hurt me. I suppose there weren't any princes staying this week.'

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Good Lord!

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'I've just thought of a Japanese saying - "The bigger the room,

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' "the less likely you are to find all the light switches when you turn in.

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' "And there's always one that you left on." '

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Fantastic. Is that the bedroom?

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Blimey. I didn't expect anything like this. Thank you. This is unbelievable!

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Obviously the Ambassador's pulled a few strings!

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Although it was late and wet, I was determined to explore the city.

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A friend said, "Don't bother going to all the up-market restaurants."

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And even the Ambassador said I should try the restaurants in the business quarter,

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specialising in different dishes, like barbecued chicken intestines.

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And this is deep-fried, breaded pork in a dipping sauce.

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Even in the pouring rain, there's a great atmosphere around here.

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Little groups of office workers having a few pints before the long train ride out to the suburbs.

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This is nice, isn't it? Look at that Kobe beef there, all done in sort of shiny plastic.

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It's a much better idea than just having pictures of the food. And there's some sashimi.

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This is eminently collectable, this stuff. It's so bright and cheerful.

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And there's some noodles with seafood. I've got to take these all back and start a collection.

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I was looking out of my hotel room on the 18th floor earlier

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and it just looked like big, high-rise office blocks and a massive city.

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When I got down on the street, I realised that it's not like that at all.

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There's little streets leading off everywhere. And I found this place. It's under a railway arch.

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I can hear the trains above all the time. It's so funky. There's lots of people here in city suits.

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So it's not down-market, but it just looks so informal.

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And the food is excellent. And Japanese beer is a revelation.

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I had a bit of a problem trying to come to an idea

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of what I would choose to eat.

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But I was just having a look at the menu and I saw a little pig, a little chicken and some kebabs.

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So I just pointed to them and then I just said "pickles", cos I know you eat pickles with everything.

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And it's a fantastic meal. I'm really enjoying it. It's very good quality. And I just love the buzz.

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It's one of those places that reminds me of Spanish tapas bars.

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You have a little plate of mussels and a glass of sherry and move on to the next little bar.

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But I'm running out of time because soon the biggest fish market in the world, called Tsukiji, opens.

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Business here means a turnover of 20 million dollars of fish every day.

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It was here that I met up with Taka who became my indispensable guide.

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First we're going to do the frozen tuna before the bidding starts.

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Wow!

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You know that film, Alien? I always thought it had a bit of seafood imagery in it.

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The bottom of the spaceship in that film with all the pods with the eggs in it and that fog hanging?

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That's where they got it from!

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It also looks like a World War Two aircraft hangar, full of bombs.

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And these guys are so skilful with the axe.

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They're chopping a bit out of the tail to tell the quality of the tuna.

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Later, somebody will test the tuna to see how much fat is in the flesh

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and how good the quality of the fat is.

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So this is the fresh tuna room or hall, I suppose you could call it, just prior to the auction.

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Just beautiful fish here. They're checking the quality of the tuna.

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They're looking for the marbling in the tuna and the colour and the more vibrant and intense the red,

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the fresher it is. And talking about marbling, it's a bit like beef.

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I think tuna is... Like roast beef is to us, tuna is to the Japanese.

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And when you think that they sort of live on fish and rice,

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if this ran out, I think it'd be all over for them.

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BELL RINGS

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Most of the money that passes through this market is from the tuna sales.

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And these fish come from all over the world, New Zealand, Chile, Africa, even the Mediterranean.

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There's nowhere the tuna boats won't go.

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SPEAKING IN JAPANESE

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This auction, I think, sums up their fanatic zeal and a voracious appetite for this magnificent fish.

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Because the tuna's so expensive, it goes to specialists who know how to prepare it.

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They leave nothing to waste before it's shipped out to restaurants and sushi bars all over Japan.

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I've seen filleting all over the world, but this man is a master.

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He reminds me of a samurai warrior from the films of Akira Kurosawa -

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that intense concentration where the man is totally at one with the sword.

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When I was little, the fishmonger in Padstow called Mrs Soper used to say,

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"You make your money from the sharpness of your knife."

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This fish cost a million yen.

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That's £5,000.

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You certainly need a sharp knife to get your money out of that.

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I've just found out that this tuna, which is £5,000, by Christmas, will be as much as 20,000 to 25,000.

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And the most expensive tuna on the market, the Christmas market, could be as much as £50,000.

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It's not even eight o'clock yet, but it feels like lunchtime.

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Ever since I arrived in Japan, I've yearned for really fresh sushi.

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And it doesn't come any fresher than this - a sushi bar right in the fish market.

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I couldn't wait to try the tuna, slivers of squid and red bream straight from the market,

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with grated wasabi root, served with vinegared rice.

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Those that know such things say that sushi will take over the world like the pizza and hamburger did.

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Well, it had better hurry up before the fish runs out.

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There are many types of sushi. This is called maki - vinegared rice wrapped in dried seaweed.

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It's one of those dishes that has great theatre attached to it, like making the perfect pizza disc

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or flambeeing a Crepe Suzette.

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Even the way it's presented on the plate means something.

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This sushi is vastly different from the supermarket version back home where they use mainly cooked fish

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for a longer shelf life presumably.

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This is the bee's knees.

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Would you just ask him how long it takes a sushi master to train?

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SPEAKS IN JAPANESE

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IN JAPANESE

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-It takes ten years for normal people, but I was a taxi driver until four days ago myself.

-What?

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-SPEAKS IN JAPANESE

-It's a joke.

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-Right. Ten years?

-Ten years.

-Amazing.

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Well, now we are eating this fresh sushi, do you think you'll be making sushi at the banquet?

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No. I haven't got ten years to spare! It's next month we're doing it.

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But I think sushi's really a meal in itself with all that rice.

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I think it'd be too filling. I think I'll go for sashimi.

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-I've just got to learn how to cut it.

-We saw a beautiful technique today.

-Yes!

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'It doesn't matter what country you're in, this is the way to soak up the nuances of a nation's food.

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'And it helps that Taka is a serious foodie.'

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This is actually wasabi, which is the green horseradish

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that everybody has with sashimi and sushi. I never knew what it looked like before.

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But of course it's a horseradish root just like ours.

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This is a dried fillet of bonito, a type of tuna, being planed into those very fine shavings

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for dashi, the essential stock here. The Japanese are crazy about pickles.

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Here, there's celery, cucumber and salty aubergines.

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Well, this is a sushi knife and it's quite rigid.

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It's incredibly sharp, of course.

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But what's interesting is it's flat on one side and curved on the other.

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So when this knife cuts, it actually cuts like this.

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-But this part remains, which means you get the freshness of the ingredients maintained.

-I see.

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That's what I mean about Japanese attention to detail.

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When you slice into a fillet with the straight side,

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it just cuts through those cells without damaging any of the others.

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So you have minimum damage and maximum freshness.

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A large part of the market is devoted to live fish.

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They're sold at a premium because of the Japanese obsession with freshness.

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It's almost like coming to a Disneyland of seafood

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because there's so much variety that it's mind-boggling to me!

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-I like that - a Disneyland of seafood.

-Good way of saying it, I guess.

-I might use that.

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If I was doing the banquet here, I'd have this boiled octopus.

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And these sea squirts - they're a real bite of the sea.

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I've got to have prawns somewhere, preferably live tiger prawns.

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But maybe I'll use our langoustines. I'm also thinking about clams. These are blood clams.

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They might be good in the sashimi. These look like our whelks back at home.

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But they're much more tender, called Babylons here.

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This reminds me of a samurai warrior, an Arctic snow crab.

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Big money, but perfect for the banquet. Maybe I'll use our local spider crabs.

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This market is a source of inspiration to create a menu.

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I really think it helps to have a serious appetite when you do this type of window shopping.

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But now it's time for lunch.

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Tell me the basics of Japanese cooking. What do I need to know?

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I think typically Japanese food, what we eat, we have about five different flavours,

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which is the saltiness, the sweetness, the sourness, the bitterness, and, I guess, the heat.

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And we try to mix things that we make with these flavours and enjoy those flavours.

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But it's important to remember it's the ingredient that's the star.

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The ingredient is enhanced by these flavours, not killed by it.

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This is a typical businessman's restaurant in the heart of Tokyo,

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specialising in sashimi, with fish straight from the pool.

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The food is prepared very quickly because these office workers eat and run.

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There are so many things to know about Japanese cuisine.

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Colours, for instance. Their favourites are white, yellow, black, green and red in food.

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This is a picture - sashimi made with sea snail, red bream, tuna and prawns.

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I don't think I'll be doing anything quite this elaborate at the banquet.

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I've only been here for 36 hours. And when I arrived, I was utterly daunted.

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Talk about Lost In Translation. You arrive in Tokyo and it just seems like another planet almost.

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Everything about life in Japan is about precision, about really paying attention to detail.

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We were walking through a lot of restaurants with kitchens. Everything's so tiny.

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And I thought it's actually good for human beings to have to think in a confined space.

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When you've got massive space, you don't know where you're going, but when everything's small,

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people rise to the occasion.

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That's what's impressive about the place - its attention to detail.

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And the detail is never more important than in social etiquette.

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Setsuko Yamamoto teaches the art to businessmen.

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-Setsuko, how do I greet you then?

-First, it's a little bow.

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-And the head goes like this. Hajimemashite.

-Hajimemashite.

-"Nice meeting you."

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-And slowly up, the head. Then it's nice smiling.

-Nice smiling!

-Then it's, "Please take a seat."

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-"Please take a seat"?

-Yes.

-Oh, we kneel.

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OK.

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So just tell me what the worst mistakes of etiquette Westerners can make, really.

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-When you take off shoes...

-Yes.

-First you take off shoes.

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Sometimes you can get into slippers.

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-Slippers are not allowed in a tatami room.

-It's got to be bare feet?

-Yes.

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And also when you eat, the chopstick - you have to break it and then you eat.

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-Then every chopstick you have to put on the side, horizontal.

-OK, horizontal.

-Horizontal.

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-And what about drinking?

-Drinking is always - kampai.

-Right. Kampai? That's "cheers"?

-Yes, "cheers".

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Kampai means "cheers".

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And always the holding - nice way. Then to bring it to you respectfully.

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-And always double-handed?

-Yes. That means it's respect.

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-It's all about respect?

-Yes, respect. That's it.

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And as I'm beginning to realise in Japan, respect is the key word.

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Without it, nothing works. And it goes right back into the kitchen.

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Andy Cook has been a top chef in Tokyo for the past two years

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and runs a restaurant for Gordon Ramsay, which is producing Western food for the Japanese palate.

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I thought if anyone could help me understand the preferences of the Japanese, then it would be him.

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I think first of all, the key thing for you is fresh.

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You really need to be getting the best, freshest fish possible. You need to concentrate on the season.

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The Japanese are passionate about being in touch with nature and with what's going on around them.

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You've got things like the Kaiseki menu, which is the monster 18-course menu.

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And each course will be something different. You'll have sashimi. You'll have your grilled dish.

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You'll have your soup. You'll have your meat and your pickles. Then you may have some kind of sweet.

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But you're going to need to have a nice soup, something that's focusing on what's in season.

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Sashimi traditionally is white fish.

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So you're looking at a nice bass or baby rouget or sea bream.

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Sea bream's interesting because the Japanese love anything that's red and white.

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-Anything that represents the Japanese flag, they adore.

-Wonderful!

-Lobster - fantastic.

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Sea bream - fantastic. We buy it and sell it at a very high price.

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Don't be scared about it being too complicated.

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-You'll not fail to impress the guy.

-You reckon?

-I reckon you'll be OK!

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Well, I was just going to say, do you think I'm bonkers?

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You probably are, yes. But I think you'll be all right.

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I like to feel I've become a connoisseur of street food over the years I've been travelling around.

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But this just beats it all. I mean, where could you get a dish of first quality tuna like this

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with your own little tea supply and a bowl of miso soup?

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I mean, it's perfect! The variety is endless and it's cheap and fresh

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because they all specialise in one thing or another.

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People come to this one for tempura, beautiful prawns in a light batter.

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And this man makes an old Tokyo dish, like an omelette, full of chilli, coriander, mirin and pork.

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And he doesn't let the egg set. It's poured over boiled rice.

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But best of all, I found this little gem that has cooked the same dish for generations.

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This is a local restaurant. They only serve one dish, Fukagawadon.

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It's also the name of the area because the dish was so typical of the area.

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It's clams and rice served with a miso soup.

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The clams came out of the river, so it's an obvious dish to serve here.

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It just reminds me a bit of sort of eel pie and mash.

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You know, those restaurants that were all around London near the Thames.

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Most of them have died out now and this is very sort of similar.

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They largely serve older people, but it's good that there's still some of these restaurants around.

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And this is delicious. If you find a good eel pie and mash shop, it's good. This is particularly good.

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'Like many dishes of this type, it's all to do with the quality of the stock.

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'My taxi driver took us here as this is where he has lunch.

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'But now we go from one end of the culinary spectrum to the other,

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'a restaurant that has been in the same family for 16 generations, a town north-west of Tokyo, Kanazawa.

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'I've come here to experience a banquet, given in my honour,

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'by the ex-Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori.

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'The Ambassador was keen for me to meet him and also to sample some of the best food Japan has to offer.

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'I felt a bit out of my depth and I kept thinking of the do's and don'ts of chopstick etiquette.

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'And I really wanted to know what sort of fish I was eating.

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'It was a relief when Mr Mori suggested we take our coats off.'

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So relax and enjoy the food.

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'Under domes of ice was the prettiest display of sashimi I've ever set eyes on.

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'I'm never going to match this. This was made up of tuna, prawns and sea bream.

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'It was a work of art. I wondered how many days a week Mr Mori would eat fish?'

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THEY SPEAK IN JAPANESE

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-Every day.

-Every day?

-Every day. Seven days a week.

-And how often meat then?

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-THEY SPEAK IN JAPANESE

-I try not to eat as much meat.

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Would you ask him if he likes any British dishes?

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SPEAKING IN JAPANESE

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He said, "What sort of cuisines are there in England?"

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'I think that says quite a lot, really. The roast beef of England is still a mystery in Japan.

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'And judging by what we're eating tonight, it will remain so until they run out of fish.'

0:25:320:25:39

IN JAPANESE

0:25:390:25:42

Roast beef, I love. I really do.

0:25:420:25:45

But obviously that kind of does build up on my body, so I try not to eat as much.

0:25:460:25:53

'There were nine courses, all complementing each other.

0:25:530:25:58

'And every chef wants to know how their food is being received at the table.

0:25:580:26:04

'Well, it's oishii! - "delicious". And this is a little boat formed out of kelp, which they call kombu.

0:26:040:26:12

'It's filled with slices of abalone, red snapper and leeks

0:26:120:26:16

'and shredded daikon. The kombu has the taste of the sea itself.

0:26:160:26:22

'But it also has other prize properties.'

0:26:220:26:25

The people of Okinawa, the island at the southernmost part of Japan,

0:26:250:26:30

live longer than anybody else in Japan

0:26:300:26:34

and people in Japan live longer than anybody else cos they eat so much fish.

0:26:340:26:41

But they eat ten times more kombu than anyone else in Japan and live longer.

0:26:410:26:47

And it's very good for slimming. I wish I could eat this.

0:26:470:26:51

-SPEAKING IN JAPANESE

-The Japanese eat kelp quite often.

0:26:510:26:55

When we eat kelp, it actually helps to grow your hair.

0:26:550:27:00

Keep your hair nice and colourful.

0:27:000:27:03

And I'm going to be 70 next year.

0:27:050:27:08

-70?

-Yes, 70.

-I thought he was younger than me!

0:27:080:27:13

THEY SPEAK IN JAPANESE

0:27:130:27:16

71.

0:27:160:27:19

Look at our hair.

0:27:200:27:23

It's the kelp.

0:27:230:27:25

-Was it nice? Did you like it?

-Well, I would like to say it was completely a revelation to me.

0:27:250:27:32

I don't think... If it wasn't for this, I would never have tasted food like that.

0:27:320:27:39

I don't believe you could go to a Japanese restaurant outside Japan and eat food like that.

0:27:390:27:46

I mean, it's better than the top three-star French food.

0:27:460:27:50

For me, it's the perfect food, simple, delicate, incredibly complex in the kitchen,

0:27:500:27:56

and my thanks to the chefs.

0:27:560:27:59

But so effortless here. I just think, to me, it's sort of what Japanese culture is all about,

0:27:590:28:07

this sort of seeming simplicity, but behind it so much complexity.

0:28:070:28:12

Thank you very much. < Thank you very much.

0:28:120:28:17

'What I want to do next is get to grips with the essential pillars, if you like, of Japanese cuisine,

0:28:170:28:24

'the ingredients and the flavours that keep recurring in each meal I have.

0:28:240:28:30

'If it was Italy, well, pasta, tomatoes and basil.

0:28:300:28:34

'Here, it's a little bit more complicated than that.'

0:28:340:28:39

OK. He's just going to get a bag.

0:28:390:28:42

I've only been here under a week, but I think I've got the essentials I'm going to need for the banquet.

0:28:450:28:52

That's the main flavouring ingredients in everything.

0:28:520:28:57

We start with soy sauce. A soy maker told me, "It's as important as water in Japanese cooking."

0:28:570:29:04

I think that's absolutely right. And next is mirin. That's the main sweetener in all Japanese cooking

0:29:040:29:11

and sweetness is very important. Next, sake. Well, this isn't a great sake. It's just cooking sake.

0:29:110:29:18

They use it with soy to cut down the strength of soy.

0:29:180:29:23

So you always start with soy and sake to vary the intensity of the sauce.

0:29:230:29:29

Rice wine vinegar. Pickles are so important in Japanese cooking,

0:29:290:29:35

with salt, the essence of a good pickle.

0:29:350:29:38

The one herb I've picked out is shiso, or perilla as we call it in England, such a distinctive flavour.

0:29:380:29:46

Bonito flakes. Dashi is the basic stock that all soups come from.

0:29:460:29:52

And with bonito flakes, the classic dashi is made with kombu which is kelp, which is seaweed.

0:29:520:29:59

Kombu is used in pickling, particularly pickling fish.

0:29:590:30:03

I could not fail to mention wasabi. For the Japanese writing, it's that way up.

0:30:030:30:09

It's that really hot, green horseradish.

0:30:090:30:13

They like to do the whole spectrum of all the flavours and all the tastes, so that is very important.

0:30:130:30:20

And lastly and by no means least, the mighty daikon -

0:30:200:30:25

a really strong radish that gives you the hot flavour in a lot of Japanese cooking.

0:30:250:30:31

The thing that's worrying me is my food is quite simple, just relying on very simple presentation.

0:30:370:30:45

Japanese is simple, but there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes there.

0:30:450:30:51

That's where I'll find it difficult

0:30:510:30:54

because I wouldn't say I'm a basic cook, but I like things straight down the middle.

0:30:540:31:00

I'm gonna have to get into that whole idea of making things look simple when in fact they're not.

0:31:000:31:07

I've got as much information as I could cope with.

0:31:070:31:11

I've learnt a lot and all I can do now is to go back home and do it

0:31:110:31:16

and hope that Ambassador Nogami is a kind and forgiving man.

0:31:160:31:20

Well, this is my menu for tonight.

0:31:200:31:23

First, sardines - a Mediterranean dish, but it looks Japanese.

0:31:230:31:28

Next, clear soup with langoustines and shiitake mushroom.

0:31:280:31:32

Then sashimi, the ultimate Japanese dish, and I had to have the ice igloo.

0:31:320:31:38

To follow, a tempura of lobster, red mullet,

0:31:380:31:42

and for that seasonal touch, chanterelle mushrooms.

0:31:420:31:46

Afterwards, a savoury egg custard called chawan mushi, and that's made with spider crabs.

0:31:460:31:53

This is grilled bass with porcini mushroom and a spear of ginger shoot.

0:31:530:31:59

No meal is complete without miso soup

0:31:590:32:02

and, of course, those lovely pickles and a bowl of rice.

0:32:020:32:07

And finally, poached autumn fruits

0:32:080:32:11

with quince syrup, and that's it.

0:32:110:32:14

I've designed this banquet menu, but I could not have done it

0:32:160:32:21

without the expert skills of Inoue-san and Koike-san.

0:32:210:32:25

I hadn't met these chefs before and I was pretty nervous

0:32:250:32:30

as chefs hate strangers coming into their kitchen,

0:32:300:32:34

blunting their knives, burning their pans and getting in the way. And I don't speak the language.

0:32:340:32:41

They don't have handles on their saucepans here!

0:32:410:32:44

This is the basic stock made with bonito flakes for the soups and dipping sauces.

0:32:440:32:51

The most important thing I've learnt about Japanese cooking is the quality of the raw materials.

0:32:510:32:58

I've tried to have the fish brought from Cornwall because I know the quality of my local fish.

0:32:580:33:05

I'm just looking through it. This gurnard is in perfect condition.

0:33:050:33:10

Absolutely dead fresh, lovely smell about it.

0:33:100:33:14

And just looking at this sea bass...

0:33:140:33:18

When you're cooking, if your raw materials are OK, everything falls into place.

0:33:180:33:24

When I look at that bass with that tag on it saying, "Line-caught wild bass from Cornwall,"

0:33:240:33:31

I just feel so reassured and my apprehension about cooking this banquet starts to fall away.

0:33:310:33:38

And I wanted live spider crabs and they are because they'll taste that little bit better.

0:33:380:33:45

I know that the Japanese members of this banquet tonight,

0:33:450:33:49

and probably the British too, will taste that extra freshness.

0:33:490:33:54

And the lobster's got to be alive when we start with it.

0:33:540:33:58

Perfect, very reassured.

0:33:580:34:01

So for the sashimi and the tempura, I'm using brill and red mullet,

0:34:010:34:06

a symbol of autumnal seafood because they're at their prime.

0:34:060:34:11

To start the soup off, we poach shiitake mushrooms in the bonito stock.

0:34:110:34:17

These are the young shoots of the ginger plant.

0:34:170:34:20

They've been blanched, cooled and dried quickly, so they don't lose their crunch.

0:34:200:34:26

Next we make the dipping sauce and that starts with sake,

0:34:260:34:31

reduced sake with the alcohol burned off.

0:34:310:34:34

The kelp aroma comes through nicely.

0:34:340:34:37

To add to that, I've chosen a fantastic bottle of soy sauce

0:34:370:34:41

which I discovered in Kanazawa and it's flavoured with kombu or kelp.

0:34:410:34:47

This is flavoured with bonito flakes - just like wood shavings disappearing in a bowl of gravy!

0:34:470:34:53

Very good mackerel. We can't get this kind of quality that often.

0:34:530:34:59

Mr Inoue, the head chef, has just complimented me on the quality of the mackerel, so I'm very happy.

0:34:590:35:06

He said it's very hard to get mackerel of this quality in London,

0:35:060:35:11

so it's paid off bringing it up from Cornwall because the mackerel is where it all started from.

0:35:110:35:18

This is what I was doing wrong on board that boat off Padstow.

0:35:180:35:23

The Japanese coat their mackerel fillets in salt and set them aside for two hours to firm them up

0:35:230:35:30

and take away any fishy odours.

0:35:300:35:32

Before they're sliced up for sashimi, they're seasoned in a marinade of mirin, sugar, water

0:35:320:35:39

and kombu, a seaweed I'm getting to like very much indeed.

0:35:390:35:44

I've just had these sardines delivered.

0:35:440:35:47

I was hoping to get Mount's Bay sardines because when Ambassador Nogami said about seasonality,

0:35:470:35:54

my immediate thought was of a very nice night once out fishing

0:35:540:35:59

about this time of year in Mount's Bay, pulling up sardines with Stephane.

0:35:590:36:05

I asked him to go out, but the weather's been appalling.

0:36:050:36:10

They still went out to try and catch some but they didn't get any.

0:36:100:36:14

These are from the Bay of Biscay. We'll see what they're like.

0:36:140:36:19

They smell all right. I'm gonna be a bit red in tooth and claw and take a little piece off there.

0:36:190:36:26

I hope you don't mind. I'll just put a bit of soy with them.

0:36:260:36:31

It looks good. I'm sure these chefs won't approve of me doing this.

0:36:310:36:35

That's really good. They're lovely. They'll be fine.

0:36:370:36:42

It's for the first course.

0:36:420:36:45

I was hoping they'd be the Penzance ones, but it'll still be fine.

0:36:450:36:50

It's the only western dish in the whole banquet.

0:36:500:36:54

This brill is up there with turbot and halibut.

0:36:540:36:58

It will be perfect in the sashimi because it's a really firm fish.

0:36:580:37:03

And gurnard is no longer thought of only as lobster bait.

0:37:030:37:07

Now it's as sought after as red mullet or John Dory.

0:37:070:37:12

The last course will be an autumnal fruit compote and the centre piece will be quinces.

0:37:120:37:18

Quince is very hard to eat in its own right, but it makes a lovely syrup.

0:37:180:37:24

Not only does it taste very nice and astringent, it also has a deep russet colour

0:37:240:37:30

and that clear juice right over the top of my compote will make it really perfect.

0:37:300:37:36

I'm going to simmer these for as long as it takes to get these bullet-hard fruits to soften,

0:37:360:37:43

then break up with a potato masher.

0:37:430:37:45

I only want the juice and none of the pulp.

0:37:450:37:49

I wonder if this lovely fruit will be popular again? Perfect.

0:37:490:37:54

Inoue-san is expertly cutting up the bass into equal pieces ready for grilling.

0:37:540:38:00

I could after my visit to Japan eat that raw.

0:38:000:38:03

These are ceps or porcini, as the Italians call them.

0:38:030:38:07

They don't use them in Japan. They use a really revered mushroom called matsutake

0:38:070:38:13

which are quite similar in appearance and in price.

0:38:130:38:17

I just thought it would be very interesting to use our most revered mushroom

0:38:170:38:23

and do it in a Japanese way.

0:38:230:38:26

What I'm really keen on about porcini is the look of them sliced like that.

0:38:260:38:32

It has a Japanese elegance about it.

0:38:320:38:35

What I'm hoping to do is just grill them along with the bass. I think they'll go very well indeed.

0:38:350:38:42

I could watch Inoue-san for hours. Every cut is done with one continuous action.

0:38:420:38:48

He's preparing the red mullet for the tempura.

0:38:480:38:53

This is the tempura dipping sauces.

0:38:530:38:56

I was keen to see the way they do it properly cos I got it out of a book!

0:38:560:39:01

Actually, it's four parts dashi and one part mirin

0:39:010:39:06

and one part soy.

0:39:060:39:09

Then a big handful of bonito flakes. Nice little tip, that.

0:39:090:39:15

Now for the first course - those sardines.

0:39:150:39:18

I got the idea when I saw an old man in Corfu preparing anchovies with lemon and olive oil,

0:39:180:39:25

but how to serve it in a Japanese way?

0:39:250:39:28

If I was doing this in my restaurant, I'd probably put them on the plate like this.

0:39:280:39:35

I can't see me doing that here

0:39:350:39:37

because of the incredible delicacy of the way that the dishes are done here.

0:39:370:39:44

So I'm just going to ask Inoue if he would give me a few tips on how he thinks we should lay it out.

0:39:440:39:52

In Japan we normally take the skin off the sardines.

0:39:520:39:56

We actually do a lot of slices, I guess designs on it.

0:39:560:40:01

-Like a diamond pattern?

-Yes.

-Will you show me?

-SHE TRANSLATES INTO JAPANESE

0:40:010:40:07

'Well, I'd never in a million years have thought of skinning a sardine fillet.

0:40:150:40:21

'This humble little sardine has started to resemble a very expensive watch strap.

0:40:320:40:39

'There seems no end to Inoue-san's skill.

0:40:390:40:42

'I wonder what he thinks of me!'

0:40:420:40:45

Good Lord!

0:40:520:40:54

That's perfect. I mean, that just says it all.

0:40:540:40:58

That is the difference between Japanese and Cornish, I suppose!

0:40:580:41:03

The amount of detail that's gone into that little sardine says it all.

0:41:030:41:09

My spider crabs have been cooking away for 20 minutes,

0:41:090:41:13

but I'll leave them to cool down before I can get at the meat.

0:41:130:41:18

Most of what's caught off Cornwall gets shipped off to Spain!

0:41:180:41:23

Koike-san turns a single radish into half a dozen delightful little butterflies

0:41:230:41:29

to garnish the sashimi.

0:41:290:41:32

If it was left to me, they'd get them in a bowl with some sea salt.

0:41:320:41:37

This is the difference between us - gastronomic origami!

0:41:370:41:41

I've seen tomatoes turned into roses which I detest,

0:41:410:41:45

but this fine detail and precision is meant to be a sign of respect

0:41:450:41:50

for the Ambassador and his guests

0:41:500:41:53

who will be turning up in a couple of hours' time.

0:41:530:41:57

I can't do that, but I've handled a couple of thousand of these!

0:41:570:42:02

When I was in Japan, this bit just outside the Tsukiji Market,

0:42:020:42:07

which is a retail market, if you like, outside Tsukiji called Jogai,

0:42:070:42:14

there was this good fishmonger selling crabs

0:42:140:42:18

and I asked him how much the crabs were selling for

0:42:180:42:22

because there were these lovely, big Alaskan snow crabs there and they were about £150 each,

0:42:220:42:29

so I was thinking maybe I could do something with our spider crabs.

0:42:290:42:34

They're not a crab much used in the UK. They've got a lovely flavour.

0:42:340:42:39

But the problem is you have to really work to get the meat out.

0:42:390:42:44

There's this very lovely dish in Japan called chawan mushti...

0:42:440:42:49

-Is that right, Taka?

-Chawan mushi.

-Chawan mushi.

0:42:490:42:53

It's like a baked egg custard and you put very delicate things in it,

0:42:530:42:58

particularly some chicken breast, which it often has.

0:42:580:43:02

You make it with eggs, but the prime ingredient in my dish will be these spider crab claws.

0:43:020:43:10

I think it will work very well. As I said, quite a lot of work.

0:43:100:43:14

'I wish I could crack eggs like that. They'd be all over the floor!

0:43:140:43:19

'This is the basis of the dish - beaten eggs.

0:43:190:43:23

'I had this for breakfast in Japan and it inspired me to put it on the menu.

0:43:230:43:29

'It's a very loose mix - half eggs to a mixture of mirin, a sake-based sweetener and dashi.

0:43:290:43:35

'This has been seasoned with light soy sauce and salt.'

0:43:350:43:40

Origato.

0:43:400:43:42

That's very nice, very delicate, very nicely seasoned.

0:43:440:43:48

So to make up the little chawan mushi pots, first a gingko nut - they're really important in Japan -

0:43:480:43:55

followed by chicken breast and chestnuts, a seasonal reference,

0:43:550:44:00

and some sprigs of trefoil, almost unknown at home, but very popular in Japan.

0:44:000:44:06

And now that lovely, sweet crab meat.

0:44:060:44:10

Once people are used to Japanese food, it's the way people like to eat. It's healthy, light, delicate.

0:44:100:44:17

I remember saying when we went to the banquet with ex-Prime Minister Mori

0:44:170:44:24

that it's like Michelin three-star food, but it's the sort of food you want to eat.

0:44:240:44:30

It's not too sort of calorific

0:44:300:44:33

and you'd get up from the tables thinking, "Yes, let's face life! Let's have some fun."

0:44:330:44:40

And now the pots go into this handsome steamer - looks a bit like a Japanese temple - for 20 minutes

0:44:400:44:47

until the egg mixture loosely sets like a little custard.

0:44:470:44:52

We're ready for the sashimi where only the prime cuts are served.

0:44:520:44:57

This is where Koike-san and Inoue-san's knife skills come into their own

0:44:570:45:03

and I sit back and watch with wonderment, tinged with a dash of envy.

0:45:030:45:09

So this is how mackerel sashimi is made.

0:45:210:45:25

The salt in the marinade really firms it up.

0:45:250:45:29

I don't know what the serious aficionados of Japanese food will think about this menu,

0:45:290:45:35

but I'm getting something from it.

0:45:350:45:38

I've learnt such a lot and I'll use that in my restaurant in Cornwall.

0:45:380:45:43

But I'll keep the handles on the saucepans!

0:45:430:45:47

And there goes that little butterfly to sit on the top.

0:46:010:46:06

What he's saying is, "Look at the amount of detail and care that's gone into this sashimi!"

0:46:060:46:13

What Inoue has done is just cook the lobster tails very quickly, about two minutes in boiling water,

0:46:170:46:24

just to set the lobster and so he can take the shell off easily.

0:46:240:46:29

Now he's just portioning them up for the tempura.

0:46:290:46:33

I chose Cornish lobster in the tempura, so everyone could get a taste of it, but back to the quince.

0:46:330:46:40

I'm now adding about half the volume of sugar to juice.

0:46:400:46:45

I'll bring it to the boil and the impurities will rise to the surface.

0:46:450:46:51

I'll skim them off and I'll be left with a nice, clear syrup

0:46:510:46:55

to poach the rest of my autumn fruit.

0:46:550:46:59

It's quite interesting because time is getting a little bit tight here.

0:47:020:47:08

I always think we've only got... I can't remember how many it is,

0:47:080:47:13

but there's a lot of courses and time waits for no man, so I'm just having to go a bit fast now.

0:47:130:47:20

I thought I'd use an English Cox apple to poach in the quince syrup.

0:47:200:47:25

I got the idea of using persimmon from ex-Prime Minister Mori's banquet.

0:47:250:47:31

It's becoming more popular here, the Japanese love it and it looks so autumnal.

0:47:310:47:37

The apples are done in two minutes.

0:47:370:47:40

It won't be long before the first guests arrive and it's time to assemble the first course.

0:47:400:47:46

Good. Tomato?

0:47:470:47:50

Yeah. Perfect.

0:47:500:47:52

-Everything going all right?

-Not too bad, Ambassador.

0:47:530:47:58

We're very impressed with the way Inoue has cut them like that.

0:47:580:48:03

We're just working out how best they will look in a Japanese way.

0:48:030:48:08

-We're just gonna put a bit of olive oil on there.

-Lovely.

-A tiny bit of oregano.

-Yeah.

-So it should be fun.

0:48:080:48:15

The first to arrive is the lady who taught me the fundamentals of Japanese etiquette,

0:48:150:48:22

an essential requirement for anyone thinking of going there.

0:48:220:48:27

CONVERSATION IN JAPANESE

0:48:270:48:29

This is the miso soup which is the last but one course.

0:48:320:48:37

He's using a dark miso paste which is a soya bean paste, but he's also cooked up the lobster heads.

0:48:370:48:44

Much as I wanted lobster in the tempura, there is so much flavour in the heads,

0:48:440:48:50

I'm very happy that he's using the lobster heads to flavour the miso.

0:48:500:48:55

It will be really special.

0:48:550:48:58

One of the things that was a real revelation in Japan

0:48:590:49:03

was the use of pickles.

0:49:030:49:06

I love these pickles, particularly this burdock and the sour plums and the cucumber.

0:49:060:49:12

They're just sensational. This is going to come with the miso soup

0:49:120:49:17

right at the end of the banquet just before the sweet.

0:49:170:49:21

To me, it's like the cheese course.

0:49:210:49:24

I look forward to these pickles like I would to some nice cheese.

0:49:240:49:29

We're serving various seriously good sakes, but also some wine,

0:49:290:49:34

and with the miso soup I'm going to serve a Pinot Noir

0:49:340:49:38

because it will go really well with these pickles.

0:49:380:49:42

Konbanwa.

0:49:430:49:45

It's a good job us drones can't see what's going on upstairs.

0:49:470:49:51

I'm a firm believer in getting the first course absolutely tippy-top,

0:49:510:49:56

then the rest will go like a dream. I'm also an optimist!

0:49:560:50:00

-Good evening.

-Good evening.

-Thank you very much for coming.

-Terrible traffic, I'm afraid, in this rain.

0:50:000:50:08

-How are you?

-Very nice to meet you.

0:50:080:50:10

Rick is working in the kitchen.

0:50:130:50:16

-Who's working in the kitchen?

-Rick Stein.

-Oh, how wonderful! That's a plus.

0:50:160:50:23

-How are you?

-Sorry we're late.

-Sorry we're late. Terrible traffic.

0:50:260:50:31

They say the Japanese are inscrutable and now I know what it means.

0:50:340:50:41

The bass is ready for grilling and so might I be if this doesn't turn out as I would like!

0:50:410:50:48

Well, thank you very much for coming tonight.

0:50:510:50:55

Actually, the real host is not here. He's downstairs.

0:50:560:51:00

Origato.

0:51:030:51:05

Superb!

0:51:080:51:10

I was told that you always serve soup as a second course because of its relaxing qualities.

0:51:240:51:31

It puts people at their ease.

0:51:310:51:34

I'm down in the kitchen, oblivious to all this.

0:51:340:51:37

If I could have seen the guests enjoying it, I would have been much happier.

0:51:370:51:44

They make the ice domes by putting water in a bowl, adding a second one and freezing it.

0:51:480:51:55

They have a wow quality that says this sashimi cannot be fresher!

0:51:550:52:00

Is this an innovation of his or is it always served in an igloo?

0:52:000:52:05

-No, no, this is...

-This is a Rick Stein-ism.

-Look at the butterfly. Isn't that gorgeous?

0:52:050:52:11

Course number four - tempura,

0:52:140:52:16

a popular choice for people beginning to explore the delights of Japanese cuisine.

0:52:160:52:22

The skills shown here are far beyond me. There's no point in me trying to help. I'd be in the way.

0:52:220:52:29

But I did do the recipes and the menu. I'm very happy with it.

0:52:290:52:34

What's interesting about this is you only batter the shiso leaves on the one side,

0:52:340:52:40

so you've got the nice green in the finished tempura.

0:52:400:52:44

In recipes for tempura, they say don't mix it too much.

0:52:440:52:49

There's bits of totally unmixed flour in the batter,

0:52:490:52:53

but that's how you get this lovely light crispness in the finished tempura.

0:52:530:52:59

Oh, God!

0:53:080:53:10

This is a really important part of the banquet to me.

0:53:130:53:17

I love tempura and I just wanted to see it done perfectly.

0:53:170:53:22

I had the idea of what to go in it.

0:53:220:53:24

I wanted some Cornish lobster, some chanterelles, seasonal,

0:53:240:53:29

but to me it's a bit like designing a house and then getting somebody to build it.

0:53:290:53:36

The way they work, the last-minuteness of this tempura

0:53:360:53:40

which is the only way to do it, is absolutely spectacular.

0:53:400:53:44

The dipping sauce is really important for tempura.

0:53:440:53:49

Before I embarked on this banquet and went to Japan, I thought it was just soy sauce

0:53:490:53:55

and not that complex mixture of mirin, bonito and seaweed. It makes all the difference.

0:53:550:54:02

This is a dish we learned from the Portuguese.

0:54:020:54:06

Course number five is the chawan mushi with the crab meat topped off with a warm, delicate sauce

0:54:100:54:17

made with dashi and just a touch of grated ginger.

0:54:170:54:21

This whole banquet is a voyage of discovery for me.

0:54:210:54:25

Nowhere, I think I'm right in saying, have we anything like this in our food -

0:54:250:54:31

a savoury steamed egg custard.

0:54:310:54:34

I had absolutely no idea that people were wolfing it down like no tomorrow!

0:54:340:54:40

All my hopes are pinned on this course. It's the grilled porcini and sea bass.

0:54:420:54:48

I've never tried grilling porcini this way,

0:54:480:54:52

but I'm certain that the Ambassador is a stickler for seasonality

0:54:520:54:57

and porcini it's got to be.

0:54:570:55:00

I'm happy with this. The mistake is because this is the star dish,

0:55:000:55:05

the sea bass, it's a mistake to give him too much.

0:55:050:55:09

That's why we've only got one small piece, one piece of cep,

0:55:090:55:14

and a little bit of garnish there. People will really appreciate that.

0:55:140:55:20

The Ambassador's guests include diplomats, bankers, journalists,

0:55:230:55:29

some old hotelier friends of mine from Cornwall, all people who know a lot about cooking.

0:55:290:55:35

It occurred to me that food is one of the Ambassador's greatest tools

0:55:350:55:40

in creating friendships all over the world, but I suspect Mr Nogami knows that already.

0:55:400:55:47

Now for this all-important miso soup.

0:55:530:55:57

This has been flavoured with lobster and seaweed and it has tofu added to it at the last minute.

0:55:570:56:03

This is traditionally served with pickles and steamed rice.

0:56:030:56:08

It signifies the end of a meal

0:56:080:56:10

and if a Japanese waiter says to you, "Can I serve the rice now?" you know it's the end of the meal,

0:56:100:56:17

but on this occasion we've still got dessert to come.

0:56:170:56:22

For us cooks, we can start to relax now.

0:56:240:56:28

We still don't know how it's gone down, but there's an air of buoyancy about the place

0:56:280:56:35

and there's not much to dislike about the autumn fruits, so I'd say we're home and dry

0:56:350:56:41

and I think the pudding wine will go really well with the fruit.

0:56:410:56:46

APPLAUSE

0:56:530:56:55

CHEERING

0:56:580:57:00

-It was down to these boys, I have to say.

-It was wonderful.

0:57:030:57:08

-Thank you very much.

-Amazing!

0:57:080:57:10

Wonderful, wonderful.

0:57:100:57:13

-Rick, please...

-Oh, thank you.

0:57:130:57:16

-Great.

-Great.

0:57:210:57:24

You know how to...how to put it?

0:57:240:57:27

You've done it!

0:57:270:57:30

-Oh, good.

-You've done it.

-My God, we've done it!

-My God, you've done it!

0:57:300:57:36

-They're terribly good, your chefs. I would not have...

-Would you give them a job in Padstow?

0:57:360:57:42

Oh, tomorrow, yesterday!

0:57:420:57:45

No, don't do that!

0:57:460:57:49

No, no, no. It's only a joke. It's only a joke!

0:57:490:57:53

We loved it.

0:57:530:57:55

I've loved doing it. It's been such a pleasure.

0:57:550:57:59

It was a bit nerve-wracking, I was a bit on edge this morning,

0:57:590:58:04

but as I realised how good they were and in what safe hands I was,

0:58:040:58:09

I've learnt so much today that it's been a fantastic experience for me and thank you very much.

0:58:090:58:16

-Thank you very much. It was excellent. Let's...

-Cheers.

0:58:160:58:21

Oh, good, we've got some... Well...

0:58:210:58:24

-Kampai.

-Kampai.

0:58:240:58:27

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2006

0:58:490:58:53

Email us at [email protected]

0:58:530:58:57

When the Japanese ambassador saw Rick Stein preparing sushi on a boat off Cornwall, he was not impressed. However, this sparked off an idea where Rick would go on a voyage of discovery to the ultimate seafood lover's destination - Japan. On his return he promised to create a banquet fit for an ambassador and his friends.