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We've packed our passports and bought our phrase books...
HE SPEAKS JAPANESE
..because we're off on our biggest, craziest adventure yet.
Delicious. Meow, meow, bn-eeep!
We're travelling further than we've ever done before
to uncover the authentic roots of Britain's favourite takeaway foods...
I've always wanted to know how to make proper sweet-and-sour sauce.
..going off the beaten track
and being welcomed into some of Asia's hidden worlds.
How marvellous is this!
From the high-rises and hot woks of Hong Kong...
The heat on this is really, really intense but listen,
it's like a jet engine.
I love it!
To the sweltering tropics of Thailand...
We love a tuk-tuk!
..where they say it's impossible to eat badly.
Thai food's arrived in Britain but, by crikey,
it's only the tip of the iceberg.
And we fulfil a lifelong ambition to explore Japan.
-That is perfect.
-Wow! Look at that.
-I've just had a sushi-gasm!
We finish up in South Korea where the spicy cuisine is sensational.
This will go down a bomb down the local.
So leather-up and take to the road
-for one extremely hairy
We've got a trip of a lifetime ahead of us.
Two weeks travelling all over Japan to unlock
the secrets of Japanese food and there's only one place to start.
I can't believe it, mate. We're here in Tokyo.
Oh, we've been dying to come here for years. Land of the Rising Sun.
-Sashimi, Sushi, noodles and neon.
-What are we waiting for?
Tokyo is the world's largest metropolis.
And it's the gastronomic capital of the world.
It is home to over 13 million people
and has more Michelin stars than Paris.
-Do you know what, Si?
-I think we're going to love this place.
Japanese is Dave and I's all-time favourite food.
And it seems we're not alone.
Sushi now outsells some of our most popular
sandwiches in supermarkets across the UK,
making Japanese one of our best-loved lunchtime takeaways.
Now, since our diet, we've both been watching what we eat.
The Japanese have the lowest obesity rates in the world and
we want to find out how they do it.
We want to discover the secrets of sushi.
We want to get under the skin of the national obsession with the noodle.
We want to find out what people are eating in restaurants.
-And in their homes.
-Oh, enough blathering, Kingy. I'm starving.
Armed with a good Japanese phrase book and a voracious appetite...
-A potent combination, there's no time to waste, David.
Now I reckon today's the day to hunt out more traditional Japanese food.
Tradition here equals seafood which equals sushi,
-Tokyo fish market.
It is the engine room that drives Japanese food.
It's the biggest, best fish market in the world.
We've dreamt of visiting the Tsukiji fish market for 20 years
but it means an early start.
-4.30 in the morning. Is it worth it?
-Yes! It is.
This is the lodestone for sushi lovers.
The Tsukiji fish market in central Tokyo is a living, breathing
example of just how important fish is to Japanese cuisine.
2,000 tonnes of seafood arrive here every day by ship,
truck and plane from all six continents of the world.
There is every variety of fish you could possibly think about.
You can buy anything, from penny-apiece sardines,
-to £500 a pound sea slug caviar.
-Oh, wow! Look at this.
Look at the size of those tuna.
We're here to taste the freshest sushi known to man
at a traditional sushi bar near the market.
We're meeting local sushi fiend Marina.
-How are you?
-Hi. Marina. Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, Marina.
-Sorry, watch out. Hey, it's quick here, isn't it?
I'm so looking forward to this. I mean, we're both sushi hounds.
We love sushi. We love Japanese food.
She's going to give us
an insight into how sushi here differs from sushi back home.
Now before we start, you can take your little plate here. Yeah.
And you've got the soy sauce in there so you can put a little bit.
-Yes. Don't make it a bath.
-Don't make it a bath! Say when?
-That's it. Yeah.
-Oh! Is that it?
-Yeah. The good...
The proper Japanese only put a little bit of soy sauce
on the plate.
Now do we put our wasabi in that and squidge it around?
It's going to be wasabi in each sushi,
so you don't need to add it yourself.
These bars specialise in just two types of sushi - nigiri,
which is rice with fish on top and maki, little rolls with fish inside.
But there are over 20 different varieties of seafood.
Sushi in Britain tends to revolve around salmon and tuna
but here, there's mackerel, sea urchin and fish roe.
We're starting with cuttlefish
and the sushi equivalent of a sirloin steak, fatty tuna belly.
THEY SPEAK JAPANESE
So when you put it in your mouth, put it sideways.
-Ginger on top?
Sideways. Shall we?
Mixed with the rice and the fish, goes around the mouth a bit better.
-Mmm! I've just had a sushi-gasm!
In Japan, people use their fingers instead of chopsticks to eat sushi
and the ginger is just a palette-cleanser.
It's interesting looking at the nigiri here.
It's a big piece of fish and a small piece of rice.
At home, it's teensy-tiny piece of fish and loads of rice.
How often during the day do the Japanese people eat sushi?
Not so often. Once a week, once a month,
if you have a family gathering.
So is sushi still seen as being celebratory or expensive
-to the Japanese?
-Mm. It is, it is.
-Now, back in the days, it was a snack, it was a street snack.
So it's very different but nowadays, yes, it became a specialty food.
It may take years to become a sushi master, Kingy,
but I know a delicious recipe that we can all master in minutes.
We're in the middle of Tokyo in Kiyosumi gardens.
The buildings of Tokyo are encroaching on it,
but here there are is an aura of peace.
What we are going to do here is show you ways of making
great sushi that bridges that gap between East and West
and gives you something lovely to make for your tea.
I am going to do you a kaisen don which fundamentally is a bowl of rice
with a load of sashimi on the top.
I am going to be making a California roll,
which is nothing to do with Japan,
it's got more to do with what you get in the supermarket,
but when it's made properly it's really delicious.
It all starts with rice, doesn't it?
Everything. Everything starts with rice.
This is Japanese sushi rice - you can get it in all the supermarkets.
Now, obviously, we are in a wooden teahouse of extreme beauty
in the middle of Tokyo, and it's took a lot of trouble to get here.
We can't light a fire or boil stuff, so we've had to make the rice first.
Put half a sheet of nori seaweed
on a bamboo rolling mat covered in clingfilm.
Take the rice and cover that entire sheet of seaweed with the rice.
Then, for colour, taste and texture, add black and white sesame seeds.
Remember, this is the OUTSIDE of the California roll.
So now you pick this up carefully - the rice will stick to it -
and turn it over and press it down.
Now the filling... which to the Japanese people,
it all goes a bit off-piste!
So, we take some crab sticks.
As its name suggests, the California roll doesn't come from Japan.
The man who invented the California roll,
was a gentleman called
Ichiro Mashita at the Tokyo Kaikan hotel
in Los Angeles, and he found, in the 1970s,
that many Americans couldn't face eating fatty tuna - the fools -
so he found the texture of avocado was similar
so he got away with avocado. And it was cheaper.
Also, the reason for the inside-out roll -
the Americans didn't like the seaweed on the outside.
"Ew, seaweed! We can't do that!"
So he puts the seaweed on the inside - an inside-out roll -
so he hid it in the middle.
Now, some mayonnaise.
It's wrong, but it's right.
Some more of those lovely sesame seeds down the middle.
One item that is authentic,
is this grated Japanese horseradish, or wasabi.
Now you take your mat, roll it up...
..and then just deftly, with confidence, turn it over.
And there we have...
..perfect California roll.
So, that's the sushi done.
Now, I'm starting on the sashimi,
which is essentially thinly sliced raw fish.
I'm using sea bream, tuna and salmon.
Make sure you check with your fishmonger
that the fish is sushi grade,
which means it's been pre-frozen, so it's safe to eat raw.
You don't stop, it's one.
Look at that. How beautiful is that?
If you don't mind, Si, I'll pinch a few slivers so I can transform
my Californian roll into a rainbow roll!
Lay pieces of fish and avocado at an angle,
along your California roll to create a rainbow effect
wrap it in clingfilm and give it a good squeeze so it sticks together.
If you cut straight through the clingfilm, it keeps the fish on top.
Remember to take the clingfilm off, however!
There you are, mate. Your rainbow roll.
It's proper East meets West fusion.
Every piece of sushi has kind of got a different vibe to it.
Now, I need to assemble my sashimi masterpiece.
On the cooked rice I am adding Japanese shiso leaves,
but any salad leaves will do.
Lay the raw fish on top with some tuna tartare for texture,
and drizzle with a dressing made from
citrus seasoning called yuzu, sashimi pepper and soy sauce.
-That looks absolutely lovely!
Finish off with black seaweed, salmon roe and wasabi,
which can be found in any good Oriental supermarket.
I love that, and I think we've created
a true culinary souvenir that we can take home.
ENGINES START UP
I'm beginning to realise just how healthy
the traditional Japanese diet really is -
rice, fish and pickled vegetables are the cornerstones of their cuisine.
It's ridiculously low in fat!
Do you know, Kingy, the average Japanese man only weighs 9.5 stone,
but there's one group of gentlemen,
who weigh at least three times that!
You know who they are?
We're heading across town to the Ryogoku district
which has been the centre of the sumo world for over 200 years.
Sumo is as old as Japan itself.
It's the national sport,
and has millions of fans.
Being allowed in the ring, is a true honour.
A bout of sumo rarely lasts for more than a minute.
The rules are simple -
the wrestler who first exits the ring
or touches the ground with any part of his body
besides the soles of his feet, loses.
Do you know, I've seen sumo on the telly.
It's... It's... It's big, isn't it?
(Don't say that.)
The daily routine here is very strict.
They train from dawn on an empty stomach...
..and don't sit down for breakfast until 11.30.
The more junior wrestlers are in charge of cooking breakfast.
Today that means us and wrestler Ray.
Is there anything we can do to help?
We might not be good at wrestling, but we're good at cooking.
OK, maybe you can cut some chicken.
Yeah, no problem.
It doesn't matter what size sumo you are,
if you are 250kg or 120kg,
-you will both fight together.
-Isn't that a bit unfair?
-Oh, that's why everybody try to get big.
You eat and drink hard, because there's no weight limit.
-There is no weight limit?
-No weight limit.
In order to pile on the pounds,
sumo wrestlers all have to eat the same 10,000 calorie breakfast each day.
The centrepiece is a traditional hot pot called chankonabe,
but this is the super-sized version.
-So, is that the chanko pot?
-Yes, this is.
-So, would you like to try put it in?
-Yeah. All of it in?
The hot pot is packed with meat and tofu for protein
and fistfuls of traditional veg.
It all looks pretty healthy,
but the wrestlers put on weight by eating huge quantities of it,
along with copious portions of rice and a fry-up on the side!
Now, after breakfast, the lads take a nap in their dorm,
before another round of fighting and a 10,000 calorie tea.
Now it is time for us to show the boys what we're made of.
We'll start with a practice called shiko.
Now, if you want to join in at home, do feel free, you know.
Now I will show you a small partner.
Haha. I think it might be your go first, Kingy!
THEY BOTH LAUGH
It's like hitting a wall.
This is a clear demonstration of why being bigger is sometimes better.
It's like pushing against a tree.
And the tree is pushing back.
Thank you so much, Ray, for showing us this side of a sport
that we didn't understand and appreciate and now we do.
The food, the camaraderie, the people, the sumo - it's fantastic.
-Thank you very much.
It's been an enormous privilege. Thank you.
Do you know, I love it here. I could live here.
It's just so delightful - motorcycles, raw fish and pickles.
Enough dreaming, we've got work to do.
Time to get to grips with one of the ingredients
that defines Japanese cuisine.
We are heading for the quiet backstreets
of Tokyo's Chiyoda district
where we'll be joining a group of local ladies
who are taking a masterclass in how to make miso, run by teacher Maki.
Miso is a paste made from fermented soya beans,
and it's used in everything from soups and stews to sweets.
Making your own miso is enjoying a big comeback
and in vogue again with career women in Tokyo,
in the same way that baking has become so popular in Britain recently.
OK, from now, we will make rice miso together.
Come on, Maki!
Miso comes in different varieties,
but we're making classical rice miso.
It is made from an enzyme-rich rice called koji,
salt and boiled soya beans.
-Oh, they're warm!
So, that's the three basic ingredients. It's all we need.
So, please mash the soya beans by your hand on the plastic bag.
You need your weight.
Miso soup is an integral part of the Japanese diet,
A miso soup a day, keeps the doctor away, they say.
OK, so once the beans are smooth,
make a ring of paste on the table.
-It's OK. Now, yes. OK, next step, mix the salt and koji.
Together, yes. Like this. Yes, yes, like this.
Koji is a bit like yeast.
As it ferments, it breaks the beans down, turning them into miso.
The beans and the koji get kneaded together and shaped into balls.
-OK. Oh, good balls.
-And then please throw the balls into the pot.
-So, you need to remove the air completely.
-Well, he's removed the air, all right! He's welded the ball!
The miso is sprayed with alcohol so it doesn't go mouldy,
and left to ferment for up to a year.
Do you know, we'd love to use some of your miso
and cook a dish for the ladies.
If we cook for you, would you come and join us and have a taste?
-See what you think?
-Now, this is a challenge!
-We've done it again, haven't we?!
We could have made it easy and just ate it ourselves.
-But now we have ladies who know...
-And, clearly, very good food.
Now, we're cooking something very Japanese,
in a bid to win over the ladies.
Black cod marinated in white miso,
served with oriental green vegetables.
Anyway, this is black cod.
It's a cold water fish from the Northern Pacific.
Black cod isn't really cod.
It's sablefish, and it's especially rich in omega 3 oils,
which helps prevent heart disease. It's a bit pricy, mind.
But miso has such a strong flavour, it will enhance any white fish.
It'll make cheaper fish like pollock
and other such things which aren't quite so tasty, really delicious.
The first process is to marinade this lovely, lovely fish in all
manner of wonderful ingredients from the Orient.
We've kind of used lots of nice Japanese bits that you can
get in supermarkets at home.
Or you can get something that's roughly equivalent.
To make the marinade, mix the miso up with some Sake,
some freshly-grated ginger, and some sugar.
We want this fish to be sweet and tasty.
And possibly the best fish you've ever tasted.
Then finish off with a splash of Japanese rice wine vinegar.
-Right, mate, that's it.
Just put your little pinkie in there, just for a minute. Oh, this...
Keep the skin on, because we want the fish to hold together.
While the fish marinates, there's time to make the sesame dressing.
Now, there's a key about toasting sesame seeds. You see this here?
Look. I just want to show you a top tip when you're toasting.
What happens is, you'll see a sheen on the top of the sesame seed.
And that means that the oil's coming out
and that's starting to toast, nice and gently.
-It's gone a sheen on it like a sumo's buttock!
-Hasn't it? Look.
At that point, what you have to do is make sure that you keep
a close eye on it, because they go like that.
The seeds aren't just a sprinkling over the top of the veg.
They're going to juj up a dressing that should be like Japan in a bowl!
We're starting with Dashi, which is a Japanese fish stock,
citrus juice, and a sprinkling of sugar and pepper.
Grind the seeds, not too finely.
You want a bit of a rough paste, you know, not "paste" paste. See?
You want a bit of a texture on your greens, don't you?
You do, mate, you do that.
Just stir them into the dressing, and we're ready to cook.
A splash of vegetable oil.
I want quite a lot of heat in this, so no olive oil.
Nothing that's going to flavour it or burn.
Now, take your fish, skin side down. And sizzle it off.
And we cook it until we've got a little crust on it.
Oh, the smell of it is epic!
I think I'm there now, Si.
It's beginning to colour through just a little bit at the bottom.
And the marinade is just kind of starting to caramelise.
So I'm going to cover this.
Turn the heat down, so it just steams for about four minutes
and cooks through in its own "vapeur".
While the fish cooks, steam the greens.
We're using choi sum, but you can use pak choi or even spinach.
OK, Kingy, skates on! Finish the fish with a sizzle.
It's there, Kingy. Good grief! This is like Miso MasterChef!
Time to plate up!
-Oh, I hope it's as good as it looks!
You don't have to be nice, but it would help!
-Is it good?
-Get in! Get in!
-What do you think?
-Tastes very Japanese!
What can we say?! Yes! Oh, what a compliment indeed! Thank you.
-We're doing our best to learn.
-Yes, we are. We are.
# Wooh hoo, ooh hoo hoo!
And as the sun sets on our miso triumph,
like the rest of Tokyo, we've got that Friday feeling!
# Wooh hoo, ooh hoo hoo!
# Wooh hoo, ooh hoo hoo!
# Wooh hoo, ooh hoo hoo!
# Wooh hoo, ooh hoo hoo!
# Wooh hoo, ooh hoo hoo! #
There's one group of residents who have a very good reason to party.
And that's Tokyo's army of office workers, known as "salary men".
Friday marks the end of a long working week that involves
commuting on the most crowded public transport system in the world.
Tonight, we're guests of Taku, Shuya, and Kiyohiko.
Their favourite haunt is a narrow alley called Memory Lane,
packed with dimly-lit bars known as Izakaya.
These are to the salary men what our local pub is to us.
But, unlike at home, you're still allowed to smoke tabs.
-On a Friday night! Just explain to us, what do you guys do?
What is a salary man?
The first thing is, we are salary men, we have to make money,
we have to work hard, probably long hours compared to British companies.
So how many hours?
Start nine o'clock and finish like eight, nine, ten in the evening.
16 hours days and six days a week aren't uncommon
and overtime is often unpaid.
When do your families see you? Do you just see families at weekends?
-I have a wife and, erm...
-Is she OK about you...?
-Before, I used to go out, like, every night.
-Even like 11 o'clock or 12 o'clock, I'd still go out drinking.
But these days, after getting married, like my wife said,
-"Come home early!"
But sometimes I just try to grab some beers and go home like,
10 o'clock or 11 o'clock.
Yeah, me too!
Then I say I've been working late, and it's been dreadful! Yeah.
Back home, a night down the local means a few pints of lager
and a packet of crisps.
But for these guys,
the food they eat at bars like these replaces the family meal.
A salary man's staple is Yakitori, which means "grilled bird".
Most commonly chicken, but pork skewers are popular too.
The meat is basted with a sweet sauce of soy and mirin called tare.
A bit like, well, teriyaki.
So, by the way, a little bit of explanation.
That chicken skin, some people say no skin, but we love skin.
-Japanese people love skin. Now, what I'm eating is liver.
-And that gives me a lot of blood.
-So when you're tired...
-..you're going to eat it.
-Puts zip in your pip!
I've got the chicken, and it's like the tenderest,
juiciest chicken thigh.
The great thing is, it's such good beer food, isn't it?
-It's savoury, it's tangy.
And of course, it's like tapas, you can order more.
-It's just lovely and convivial. I love it here!
-It's good, isn't it?
-God bless Friday!
The eating part of the evening is done.
But the night is yet still young, Mr King.
And, if you're a salary man in Tokyo,
there's only one way to push through until the dawn!
Here I am! Come on, now!
So, mate, we're so far from home,
but I had a thoroughly good Friday night.
Good food, good company, and a bit of a sing-song!
-And it feels kind of familiar, doesn't it?
It's like a bit of...
there's a bit of drinking, there's a bit of kebab going on.
It might be a slightly different environment,
but the vibe's there, definitely. A good night, I think.
Yes, it was a good night. So, it's a good night from me...
-And it's a good night from him.
Do you know, mate, I think whatever the Japanese do,
they put their heart and soul into it.
And the passion is what makes their food so incredible.
You're right, they really appreciate and respect their food.
Whether it's a fast-food snack or a gourmet sushi experience.
And it's that attitude, together with the wholesomeness
of the ingredients, that's the secret to their health.
Well, I don't know about you, mucker,
but I can't wait to find out what the rest of Japan has to offer.
Dave and Si discover the ultimate sushi at Tokyo's famous fish market and have the rare privilege of spending time in a sumo stable where they take part in a wrestling bout.