Chef Hiroshi Kawahito of Restaurant Zoku in Mexico City epitomizes the international trend that’s creating Mexican New World Cuisine. Born in Japan, grew up in Los Angeles, Chef Kawahito returned to his home country after university studies in architecture. Drawn to Japanese cooking he honed his skills over a decade and a half before returning to Los Angeles.
Despite a successful Los Angeles restaurant experience, Mexico attracted Hiroshi, and Zoku offered a venue for his imaginative Japanese inspired cuisine. During the incomparable 22nd annual Festival Gourmet International held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, he was guest chef at Casa Magna Marriott’s Japanese/pan-Pacific Rim restaurant Mikado.
The up-scale design of the restaurant with seating surrounding expansive cooking stations allowed participants at Mikado’s festival cooking demonstration an up front experience of Chef Kawahito’s imaginative preparations. Crispy panko crusted giant shrimp from Mexico’s northwest coast rested on a tartar sauce seasoned with Japanese 7 spice. A personal favorite was fresh-shucked local oysters topped with raw quail egg, caviar and sea urchin.
The key to Mexico’s New World Cuisine is pairing local ingredients with international preparations. Wagyu beef is now raised in Durango. Sea urchin is available in the Gulf of California.
Wagyu Tataki is quick to prepare. The tender barely seared beef blends well with the subtle brininess of sea urchin. It’s a beautiful dish for a special meal.
For the home cook, wagyu beef is available at good meat markets. Fresh sea urchin is available at Japanese or other specialty seafood markets. Salmon caviar can serve as a substitute.
Wagyu Tataki – 2 servings or 4 as a first course
- 2 3-ounce Wagyu rib eye steak
- 2 teaspoons truffle oil
- 2 slices fresh lime
- 1/3rd teaspoon Hawaiian black salt or sea salt
- 2 sea urchin tongues or 3 tablespoons salmon caviar
- 2 tablespoons Japanese ponzu sauce
- 1 radish thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons finely diced fresh chives
- Thinly slice the sea urchin tongue and set aside.
- Heat a cast iron pan until very hot – a couple drops of water should dance in the pan and quickly evaporate.
- Sear the two steaks for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes per side. The steak will be rare but not bleeding. Transfer to a cutting board. Thinly slice each steak and arrange on 2 to 4 plates.
- Sprinkle half the black salt on each steak and then 1 tablespoon ponzu sauce and juice from 1 lime slice.
- Arrange half the sliced sea urchin or caviar over each steak and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon truffle oil.
- Garnish with radish slices and fresh chives.
Although this dish is easy to prepare, why not enjoy a vacation in Puerto Vallarta and feast in the full range of New World Cuisine in Mexico’s culinary powerhouse. A historic seaport, dining on the beach, the warm water of Bahia de Banderas, beautiful hotels and guest houses make Puerto Vallarta a safe and easy choice for the whole family.
When you go:
Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) is served by many international airlines from major cities worldwide.
For the 23rd Festival Gourmet International in November 2017 check the web site: http://www.festivalgourmet.com/en/
Disclaimer: the author was a guest of the 22nd Festival Gourmet International, Puerto Vallarta Tourism, and the Mikado at Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa.
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