Interview
Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa:
INTRO

Being one of the most influential chefs today, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has an impressive restaurant empire spread over 3 continents. His dedication to his profession and his journey to get where he is today is something that was extremely apparent, and indeed admiral, on our meeting.

 

Chef Nobu was born in Saitama, Japan, and following the loss of his father when he was just seven years old, he and his two brothers spent the rest of their childhood with their mother. At a young age his passion for cooking had already surfaced and this was only exacerbated further by the influence of his mother and grandmother during his teenage years.

 

At eighteen, after he had graduated from high school, Chef Nobu begun an inspiring internship at Matsue Sushi in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Seven years later, with dreams of seeing the world, he was given the opportunity to open his own sushi bar in Peru. This was a new challenge for the young Nobu as the new culture and regional ingredients meant that he needed to adapt his recipes and be inventive with flavours. It is this experience and this time of his life that Nobu believes he really discovered the full potential of his creative flare in the kitchen.

 

After three years Nobu took to travel the world further, visiting places such as Argentina and Alaska before settling in California where he opened the over night success Matsuhisa in 1987.Culinary fame was soon to follow and by 1994 Nobu had formed an unlikely partnership with Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro, and together with the support of the Myriad Restaurant Group, they opened the critically acclaimed NOBU in New York. NOBU London, Milan, Toyoko, Melbourne and of course Dubai followed (to name just a few!).

 

One thing is for sure, Chef Nobu has now certainly positioned himself as a culinary leader who doesn’t follow the rule book!

What are your thoughts on the culinary offerings here in Dubai compared to the other cities you have restaurants in?

Well I do like Dubai and come here as often as I can. For a small city it has such a diverse selection of top restaurants which I think is very impressive. I like that there are plenty of international brands mixed with charming small family restaurants. You will often find it is these small businesses that are the real hidden gems and I would like to have the time to explore these more. During my travels I have always been attracted to these places where old recipes have been passed down the generations and are still in use to this day. I get a lot of inspiration from places like these and there is always a secret or a new tip that I go away with. I think the key to success is to offer something a bit different, and to continue to keep doing so, don’t follow a trend create your own.

NOBU is such an international success, but what was it that inspired you to cook in the first place?

This question is easy for me - my mother and grandmother inspired me to cook! From a young age I also dreamt of opening my own sushi restaurant – I just loved how beautiful sushi was, the colours, the intricate detail that goes into the preparation – it was a skill I knew I wanted to learn and perfect. I think sometimes people are born to be something and I was born to be a chef and make people happy by creating taste fusions that they had never tried before.

You have such a unique style and create mouth-watering dishes with ingredients that really push the boundaries. Would you consider yourself a risk taker in the kitchen?

I love to try new tastes and textures and ingredient combinations that perhaps I even can’t imagine would go together! But with experience and trial and error over many years I have managed to even surprise myself with some things. I am also very blessed to be able to travel the world and meet wonderful people, it is these people that give me inspiration in my kitchen.

What ingredient could you not live without?

My favourite ingredient is Soy sauce, this is something I would always like to have in my kitchen but I am a great believer in working with what you have and what’s available to you.

How would you describe your cooking style in 3 words?

I think soulful, unexpected and exciting – you tell me!

What is your biggest tip for inspiring chefs in Dubai?

I think the most important thing is to love what you do and cook from your heart or your Kororo as the Japanese would say. To be a good cook is not about just following a recipe but about the passion and love you put into your food. 

You have had a very interesting life and moved around a lot during your career, how has this influenced you?

I have been very fortunate to be able to do this and it has shaped who I am as a chef today. I have taken inspiration from all the places I have lived and tried to incorporate different and unusual ingredients into dishes in my restaurants. My time in Peru influenced my cooking style a lot as I found I could not find all the ingredients that I could back home in Japan. This meant I had to be inventive with other ingredients that were available to me.

BOX OUT

In September 2008 Chef Nobu opened NOBU Atlantis, a fantastic addition to our already bustling culinary offerings here in Dubai. NOBU Atlantis infuses cutting-edge Japanese style with Arabian influences to create a distinctly urban experience, complete with a unique menu made up of old classics and exciting new surprises as well as a sushi bar and sake lounge. We recommend you try the Black Cod Den Miso, the mouth-watering signature dish.

NOBU Dubai, Palm Jumeirah 
Dubai, UAE. 

Black Cod Den Miso Recipe

Serves 8

 

8 Alaskan Black Cod Fish 220grams each ( Black cod or Stable  fish)

8 bamboo leaves

2 lemons or local limes

8 hajikami ginger

 

Den Miso

900 grams dashi stock

1.3kg sugar

400 grams honey

1.5kg white miso paste

 

Method

1. About 2 days ahead make the saikyo miso: in heavy-based non-reactive saucepan, bring the dashi to boil.

2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar and the honey until it has dissolved, then slowly mix the miso paste, a little at a time. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly so as not to let the mixture burn, for 10 minutes.

3. Strain the mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps, allow to cool and then chill until quite cold.

4. Place the fish in a non-reactive container; pour a good splash of the saikyo miso over each fillet and leave to marinate for 2 day in the refrigerator.

5. When you want to cook the fish, preheat a hot grill or the oven to 200C/gas

Place the fillet in the grill pan or on a non-stick baking sheet and cook under the grill, or in the preheated oven for 10-12minutes, turning once if grilling, until cooked through and golden on the outside.

6. Place on a serving dish and dress the plate with a bamboo leaf, lemon and hajikami with a little extra saikyo miso.

 

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