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Tim unlocks the mysteries of the Orient; With his new cookbook, JapanEasy, the Nanban chef is on a mission to prove how simple Japanese cooking is. KATE WHITING learns more.


THE first time he tried sushi, American chef Tim Anderson, who runs Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban in London's Brixton, wasn't keen.

"Sushi is the first Japanese food everybody tries and I've never understood why," he says, when we meet in Nanban's kitchen, where he's set to teach me some basics.

"I really didn't like the nori [seaweed] - the flavour or texture - it was an acquired taste. But I was really into soul food - tempura, fried rice. I loved noodles from the beginning, and the thing that blew my mind when I first tried it was tonkatsu [breaded pork cutlet] ramen."

Sushi is not on the menu at Nanban - it's all about the ramen and soul food - but there are recipes for spicy tuna rolls and salmon avocado rolls in his new book, JapanEasy, in which Tim dispels the myth that Japanese cooking is complicated.

We're chatting while Tim prepares nasu dengaku - miso-glazed aubergines - which involves cutting a crosshatch pattern in the flesh of a halved aubergine, which is then deep-fried, slathered with sweet miso grill. It takes minutes to prepare and cook and tastes sweet, salty and delicious.

"It's a simple thing - and it goes with all types of food," he says, as we scoop up the gooey lumps with chopsticks. "If you're having lamb chops, there's no reason you can't have that as your side."

Tim grew up in Wisconsin.

It was watching one of the first televised cooking competition shows, Japan's Iron Chef, (which was dubbed into English and became a cult hit in America) when he was 13, that got him into Japanese food - and he moved to LA to study Japanese history, winning a research grant to study food museums in Japan when he was 20.

After graduating, he taught English in Japan for two years, soaking up the food culture, before moving to England in 2008, marrying British wife Laura and finally opening Nanban, after a hunt for the perfect location, in 2015.

At 26, Tim became the youngest ever winner of MasterChef, wowing the judges in the final with his Kyushu-style pork ramen with truffled lobster and gyoza. His gyoza are just as tasty today. Try one of his recipes for yourself.

GRAINS SPICE OF TIM'S DELICIOUS JAPANESE CURRY RICE INGREDIENTS (Serves 2-4) 1 onion, cut into small chunks 2 carrots, peeled and cut into wedges 400g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks 1/2 cauliflower, broken into bite-sized florets 4 portions of cooked rice (300g uncooked) For the curry sauce: 4tbsp oil 1 large onion, chopped 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced 1 green chilli, chopped 2 garlic cloves, peeled 2 tomatoes 1/2 Golden Delicious or similar apple, peeled and chopped 1/2 banana 30g mild Madras curry powder 2tbsp garam masala 750ml chicken or beef stock 60g butter 6tbsp plain flour 2tbsp ketchup 2tbsp soy sauce Salt METHOD: 1. For the sauce, combine the oil, onion, ginger, chilli, garlic, tomatoes, apple, banana, curry powder and garam masala in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Pour into a saucepan and cook on a mediumhigh heat, stirring often, until the mixture begins to caramelise.

Add the stock and bring to the boil.

2. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook on a low heat for about eight minutes, stirring constantly, until the roux thickens and turns a golden brown colour. 3. Ladle the curry mixture from the other pan into the roux, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Add the ketchup and soy sauce. 4. Cook the mixture until it's quite thick, then transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree until very smooth. Season to taste.

5. Put onion, carrots and potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, add the cauliflower and reduce to a simmer. 6. Cook for about 10 minutes, until everything is tender. Drain and return to the pan, and pour in the curry sauce. Bring everything back to a simmer and THE ON HOW TO MAKE TIM'S TEMPTING TEMPURA INGREDIENTS (Serves 4) Appox. 1.5L of oil for deep-frying 8 broccoli florets or tenderstem broccoli stems 1 large or 2 small onions, cut into 7.5mm rounds 8 oyster mushrooms 1 courgette, cut in half and then quarters lengthways 8 king prawns, peeled and deveined, scored 5-6 times on their underside 200g skinless, boneless cod, cut into 4 goujons Salt and a wedge of lemon For the batter: 1 egg 400ml sparkling water 200g plain flour 100g cornflour Pinch of salt METHOD: 1. Get all your ingredients ready to go before cooking - bear in mind that this is quick, hot cooking. 2. Pour the oil into a very big, deep pan, ensuring that you keep the oil level at least 7.5cm below the rim of the pan, to be safe. Put the oil over a medium heat while you make the batter.

3. For the batter, beat the egg, and then stir it together with the sparkling water, ideally using chopsticks. Don't stir too much - you'll knock the bubbles out.

4. Stir both flours together with the salt in a separate bowl, then pour in the egg and sparkling water mixture. Mix until the batter comes together with a consistency of double (heavy) cream. 5. Check the temperature of the oil. It should beat 170-180degC. 6. Dunk the veg and fish in the batter, one at a time, allowing excess to drip off before carefully placing them e oil. Use tongs or chopsticks to separate the veg as they fry so they don't stick together. You'll have to do the veg in batches - the ideal way to serve and eat this is straight out of the fryer. Otherwise, just keep the tempura in a very low oven with the door slightly ajar to let out moisture until it's all ready to serve.

7. The tempura is done when it is a light golden brown and hard to the touch - use tongs or chopsticks to feel if the batter has firmed up before removing from the oil and draining on kitchen paper. Serve with wedges of lemon and sea salt.

USE TIM'S RAMEN WITH SCALLOPS, BACON AND EGGS INGREDIENTS (Serves 4) leek, white part only, finely shredded rashers of streaky bacon 40g or 3tbsp butter big fat scallops or 12 little scallops Splash of white wine or sake 1.2L chicken or fish stock 11/2tsp mirin 2tsp dashi powder (or more or less, to taste) Salt portions of ramen noodles eggs, poached or soft-boiled, halved 2tsp chilli oil (or more or less, to taste - optional) Toasted sesame seeds 50g pea shoots Freshly ground black pepper METHOD: 1. Cover the shredded leek in very cold water. Cook the bacon in a frying pan over a medium heat until brown and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and add the butter to the pan.

2. Add the scallops and cook for two to three one minute for little ones), until nicely browned, then remove from the pan. Add the white wine or sake to the pan and cook off the alcohol.

3. Scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan, then tip everything into a saucepan. Add the stock and mirin, and bring to the boil. Add the dashi powder and some salt, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. 4. Slice scallops horizontally into thirds (or leave whole if TIM'S RAMEN WITH SCALLOPS, BACON AND EGGS little), and roughly chop the crispy bacon.

5. Bring a separate saucepan full of water to a rolling boil and cook the ramen ccording to the ackage instructions. our or ladle the roth into deep bowls, rain the noodles well nd place in the broth. rain the shredded ek.

Top the noodles ith the eggs, hredded leek, hopped bacon, sliced callops, chilli oil, if sing, sesame seeds,
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 12, 2017
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