Monday, January 25, 2016

Washoku: A Taste of Japan in Manila

The freshest seasonal ingredients at its flavorful peak and a well-balanced, healthy the rich traditional flavors of Washoku.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) recently held a special cooking demonstration dubbed "Taste of Japan in Manila" with noted Japanese Chef Machiko Chiba showcasing Washoku, a traditional Japanese cuisine incorporating the best of Japanese culture. Respect for nature, seasonality, and well-balanced nutrition form the core of the Washoku culinary philosophy, with Chef Machiko Chiba sharing her recipes last January 21, 2016 at Restaurant 9501. Simple, yet rich and uncluttered flavors were highlighted in seven dishes prepared by Chef Machiko Chiba, providing yet another taste of Japan's unique culinary heritage.

David Celdran hosted the afternoon's presentation of Chef Machiko Chiba, accompanied by her daughter and interpreter Akiko Chiba. Based in New York and Tokyo, Chef Machiko Chiba is a leading proponent of traditional Japanese cuisine combining the concept of "good food and good health" in every dish. 

Chef Machiko Chiba (L) then proceeded with her cooking demo using her own invention, the innovative Cook-Zen (R), a special cooking pot specifically designed for use with microwave ovens. With no need to add oil or an open flame, you can enjoy low-fat meals so easy to prepare while retaining all the nutrients.

And it's a versatile pot, with the Cook-Zen used in all seven dishes prepared by Chef Machiko Chiba. With Cook-Zen, not only are the nutritious vitamins and minerals of the fresh ingredients retained, but its flavors as well. And using the Cook-Zen makes cooking so easy, you're done in minutes. Cooking with the Cook-Zen also remains consistent with the Washoku discipline, using the freshest ingredients of the season drawing out its natural flavors for well-balanced and healthy diets. In recognition of its unique, healthy and rich flavors, Washoku has been registered at UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity last 2013. The versatility of the Cook-Zen was highlighted in all the dishes prepared by Chef Machiko Chiba that afternoon with a variety of flavors, from vegetables, seafood, pork, and beef courses, and even dessert. Chef Machiko Chiba's first dish, Simmered Eggplant and Chili, kicked off this unique culinary experience with the delicate and mildly sweet notes of fresh eggplant punctuated by a soothing layer of heat from the chili.

The sheer simplicity of the cooking style guarantees you get the freshest, all natural, and real flavors from your seasonal ingredients. Chef Machiko Chiba's second dish, Japanese Clams Steamed with Sake and Garlic, featured the fresh briny notes of the ocean layered with a nutty and garlic hint and a whisper of sake for a rich blend of flavors.

The range of healthy yet flavorful dishes are represented in yet another dish, Chef Machiko Chiba's Green Beans and Fried Tofu, with the clean and mildly sweet notes of the fresh green beans pairing well with the nutty hint of the crisp fried tofu for a blend of contrasting flavors and textures.

But Chef Machiko Chiba had a tasty surprise up her sleeves with her Special Spicy Pork Adobo, with tender pork cooked in Japanese rice vinegar and soy sauce with a comforting layer of heat from the chili and Korean Yanninjyan chili paste. It's interesting to see how local flavors are reinterpreted and recreated, and this dish is a flavorful new spin on a classic. Refreshingly different.

Heartier dishes were also prepared and served, including Chef Machiko's savory Spareribs with a sweet glaze, prepared in just minutes with the Cook-Zen. The delicate notes of the tender and juicy pork are given a flavorful boost with the glaze, and it's amazing how this was prepared, fast with no fuss, with Chef Machiko Chiba's innovative Cook-Zen pot.

And if you're craving for beef, Chef Machiko Chiba presented her signature Japanese Roast Beef, with fork-tender beef cooked in Japanese rice vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. And you don't need a premium, high-end cut of beef for this dish, the Cook-Zen transforms a regular slab of beef round into a juicy, tender and almost melt in your mouth dish. The beef is so tender, each bite releases rich and juicy flavors. This one's a personal favorite.

For dessert, Chef Machiko Chiba prepared her homestyle and rustic Baked Apple, with the natural sweetness of Japanese apples delivering all the flavors to cap your Washoku feast. It's a unique dining experience, providing yet another facet of the diverse flavors of Japan. But aside from adhering to traditional food presentation, Washoku is a social practice based on the essential spirit of the Japanese and their respect for nature. And you can recreate this balance of delicate and healthy flavors in your own home, with Chef Machiko Chiba's recipes. Go ahead and take a crack at the fresh, healthy, delicate and almost sublime notes of Washoku cuisine...

Simmered Eggplant and Chili
  • 3 Japanese Eggplants
  • 2 fresh Japanese Green Chilies
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Sugar
  1. Wash the eggplants and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Cut the chilies n half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
  2. Place the eggplants, chilies, olive oil, soy sauce, and sugar in the Cook-Zen and mix well. Cover and heat on medium-high for 5-6 minutes with the steam holes set to "close".
Japanese Clams Steamed with Sake and Garlic
  • 400 g Japanese Clams
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Sake
  • 1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Parsley, minced
  1. Place the clams in a bowl and rinse under cool running water. Drain well.
  2. Place the olive oil and garlic in the Cook-Zen, and heat on medium-high, uncovered, for 40 seconds. Add the clams, sake, and soy sauce. Cover and heat on medium-high for 6 minutes with the steam holes set to "close". Sprinkle and mix fresh parsley before serving.
Green Beans and Fried Tofu
  • 150 g Green beans
  • 1 sheet (50 g) Fried Tofu
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dashi stock or water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Sugar
  1. Wash the string beans and cut them in 5 cm length. Cut the fried tofu in half, and then julienne in 5mm slices or strips.
  2. Place the string beans, fried tofu, and all of the remaining ingredients inside the Cook-Zen. Mix well, cover, and heat on medium-high for 4-5 minutes with the steam holes set to "close."
Special Spicy Pork Adobo
  • 300 g Pork Shoulder
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Pepper (red crushed chili) if desired
  • 1 tablespoon Yanninjyan (Korean hot paste)
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  1. Cut the pork into cubes.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in the Cook-Zen and mix well. Cover and heat on medium-high for 10 minutes with the steam holes set to "close".
  • 4 teaspoons Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, sliced
  • 8 Pork Ribs (3/4 pound)
  • 4 tablespoons Ketchup 
  • 2 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  1. In the Cook-Zen, place olive oil and garlic. Heat on medium-high for 1 minute without the lid. 
  2. Inside the same Cook-Zen, place pork ribs, ketchup, soy sauce, and sugar, and mix well. Cover and heat on medium-high for 10 minutes with the steam holes set to "close."
Japanese Roast Beef
  • 300 g - 400 g Beef Round
  • 3 cloves Garlic, sliced
  • 80 cc Soy Sauce
  • 80 cc Rice Vinegar
  1. Place the beef, fat side up, in the Cook-Zen.
  2. Add sliced garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar. Cover and heat on medium-high for 4 minutes (rare) or 5 minutes (medium rare) with the steam holes set to "close." Immediately remove the roast beef from the Cook-Zen so it does not continue to cook. Slice before serving.
Baked Apple
  • 1 Apple
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  1. Wash and cut the apple into four slices leaving the peel intact. Remove the core by making the "V" shape incision with a knife. Thinly cut the apples into 1-2 mm slices and place it inside the Cook-Zen
  2. Sprinkle the sugar and lemon juice, cover, and heat in medium-high for 1 1/2 minutes with the steam holes set to "close.
For more information on Washoku and Japanese cuisine, visit the Japanese Cuisine Information Site

For more information on Chef Machiko Chiba, visit And for more information on Chef Machiko Chiba's innovative Cook-Zen, check out the site at

Restaurant 9501 is located at the 14th Floor, ELJ Center, corner Mother Ignacia and Scout Albano Avenue, Quezon City or call 411-1564 for inquiries. 

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