By Richard Vine, Bloomberg
CHEF SHUKO ODA is a food hero in London for the authentic and unfussy Japanese dishes she serves at Koya udon noodle restaurant.
Her focus is on generosity over gentility, with steaming bowls of sustenance served to hungry diners seated elbow-to-elbow at counters or at shared tables, where hospitality goes hand-in-hand with value and integrity.
Well, that was how life was at Koya — with restaurants in Soho and the City financial district — before the arrival of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), which has temporarily closed both and derailed the whole trend toward counter dining in London.
Shuko was born in the UK and has worked as a chef in Japan. For Bloomberg, she has supplied a recipe for a lamb rice bowl topped with a Japanese-style poached egg: Lamb Cumin Miso Donburi With Onsen Tamago.
I tried it at home and found the egg to be the trickiest part. If you haven’t poached an egg this way before, it’s worth practicing ahead of time. I managed to under cook the egg. Most of the ingredients should be available in stores or online, though I have to confess that I went with salad leaves from my local supermarket, rather than tracking down mizuna.
Even with my shortcomings as a home cook, and the inelegance of my dish, it was delicious.
Ingredients (serves three)
• 600 grams of minced lamb shoulder
• 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
• 1 clove of garlic (grated)
• 3 grams ginger (grated)
• 10 grams ground coriander
• 28 grams ground cumin
• 90 milliliters cooking sake
• 30 milliliters soy sauce
• 70 grams sugar
• 150-200 grams red miso
• 3 medium eggs
• Salad leaves: gem lettuce, oakleaf, butterheads and mizuna (a few leaves per person)
• Herbs: coriander, spring onion, shiso and mint (a small handful per person)
• 300g Japanese short-grain rice
For the Japanese poached eggs (onsen tamago): Boil enough water to cover your eggs, approximately 1 liter for three. When the water is boiling rapidly, turn off the heat, add 200 milliliters of cold water, gently place the eggs in the water, put the lid on the pan and leave for 12-13 minutes. After that, remove the eggs and cool them in cold running water until fully chilled, so they don’t keep cooking. Put to one side.
For the lamb miso: Start by frying garlic, ginger, coriander, and cumin in rapeseed oil on low heat for a minute or until you start to smell the spices. Add the lamb and keep mixing until the color changes completely. Add sake, soy sauce, and sugar and keep mixing occasionally until the juice from the meat is reduced to half its original amount. Add the red miso and mix in until blended, then turn off the heat.
For the rice: Wash it five times, draining each time; place in a colander and transfer it to a pot with 400-430 milliliters water to soak for about an hour; put on a lid and bring it to the boil at medium-to-low heat — no need to open the lid as you will hear when the water is boiling or see bubbles lifting the lid; once boiled, turn the heat down to low and cook for a further 10-15 minutes (if you’ve been tempted to open the lid, give it a little booster high heat for 10 seconds); turn the heat off and leave to steam for a further 10 minutes; then mix the rice from the bottom of the pot a few times.
For the greens: Julienne some cucumber (meaning, cut into 5cm/2 inch strips); slice spring onions at a sharp angle and keep them in cold water to get them crisp; herbs can be roughly chopped and mixed together; wash and pat dry the salad leaves.
Place rice in each serving bowl and top with salad leaves and herbs on one side, then the lamb miso on the other and onsen tamago on the top. It’s fine to sprinkle sesame seeds, chili oil or shichimi chili, to taste.