We spoke to Chef Nobu Matsuhisa at his Nobu restaurant in Dubai recently. He shared with us the special things that inspire him; fresh produce, family and the heart
On Japanese cuisine
I’m very pleased how successful Japanese cuisine is internationally. In the old days people used to dine out for Italian and French Cuisine. People now recognize the health benefits of Japanese food and prefer to dine out because of its quality, which makes me happy.
On that dish
I created my trademark dish, Black Cod, when I was working in the USA 19 years ago. I was inspired by the beautiful fresh Black Cod I found at the markets over there. Black Cod wasn’t in fashion at that time so it was great value. I took the technique from Japanese cooking, which would work well with the texture of the fish. This included blending a marinade of sake and sugar and marinating the fish for 3 days. The recipe appealed to the American audience because of the soft texture and sweet flavours, making it an instant hit. Today Black Cod is the most popular dish on the menu at all Nobu restaurants.
On kokoro “heart”
Food is infused with the creativity and personality of the Chef. Even if you followed my instructions faithfully, using precise amounts of identical ingredients, it would taste slightly different than if someone else tried to make the dish, this is what makes cooking special and unique. I always put something special in my food, my heart, or kokoro as we say in Japanese. Each Chef should try and include something special in each dish they make, this will make the dish special for those get to taste it.
My father died when I was young, so I was mainly raised by my mother. Seeing her in the kitchen was a big part of my upbringing and inspired me to become a Chef. Mothers take extra care with their food, they consider the nutritional value for their children and ensure that it will not only nourish them, but also makes them happy.