In conversation with London based cook, writer and food blogger Mizue Kanazawa.
Originally from a product design background in Japan, a move to the UK just as the appetite for healthy Japanese cooking came into force, forged a new path into the world of food teaching, writing and catering.
Throughout the autumn-winter season, Mizue will share with us her recipes along with some traditional Japanese home cooking.
1. Mizue, you were originally a product designer, and then when you moved to the UK you made the change to food, what made you change your path?
For me, there isn’t much of a difference between design and cooking. Both are creative, which I like a lot.When I moved to the UK over 20 years ago, eating out wasn’t value for money so I often invited my friends for lunch or dinner, who asked me how to cook.When people eat nice food, they naturally have smiles on their faces, which I couldn’t get from my old job.The more I create new recipes, the more I would like to teach people in my cooking classes.
2. What makes your recipes special?
My recipes contain Japanese tastes since I grew up in Japan. I believe Japanese food is healthy and simple. So no matter what I cook, I cannot ignore these benefits.
I believe that the UK is a special place to live in. As London is multicultural, I can get worldwide ingredients from all over the world very easily.
Combining Japanese tastes with other dishes from around the world which I do, is also very unique.
I use local ingredients, from the supermarkets or local groceries. I don’t think importing special ingredients is an ideal thing for home cooking.
I am not working in restaurants because I would like people to cook at home more. Cooking is more fun and makes everyone happy and healthy.
3. Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from everywhere. From supermarkets to restaurants, from my friends, recipe books and social media, I think about food all the time.
4. What’s your favourite cuisine?
That’s a difficult question. Honestly, I can’t decide.
When I eat British food, I think it’s delicious and I’m always satisfied. When I eat Japanese food, I admire the subtle flavours and healthiness. I find new and unique flavours in Middle Eastern food and so on.
5. What’s the biggest difference between British and Japanese cuisine?
I think British taste is mainly salty, but on the other hand, Japanese taste is more complicated with a balance of sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness. However, sometimes simple is the best.
6. How difficult is it to find fine Japanese products here in London?
It is easier to get good quality Japanese products nowadays. However, for example, seasonal products for our New Year’s dishes “Osechi” are still very difficult to find.
7. What would you say is your favourite product to use in your recipes and why?
I would say Soy sauce. It is one of the great Japanese condiments and it contains salt with an Umami flavour. Nothing can substitute soy sauce.
8. Where are your favourite places in London to eat?
Hide in Green Park. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been there.
9. The methods used in Japanese cookery can be quite intimidating to novice chefs so what easy Japanese dish would you suggest that could be made at home?
“Teriyaki” is probably the easiest and most popular dish to make at home.
Your question is one of the reasons I would like to approach non-Japanese people with Japanese cooking. For example Sushi and Tempura have become synonymous with Japanese cuisine in the West and require some skill and may be a bit scary to some to try at home, but there are so many healthy simple dishes you can make at home using local ingredients.
Keep calm and cook!
Find out more about Mizue at her blog: mizue20.wordpress.com