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How To Make (And Eat) Japanese Junk Food

April 2017Words by Mr Tom M Ford

Wagyu sliders with crunchy onions. Photograph by Mr David Loftus, courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

If we are to measure plates of food simply by how good they taste, cooking that claims to be authentic, or utterly loyal to a specific area or culture, is not necessarily always the most successful. Some of the best results in the kitchen come from tweaking, if not completely throwing out the rule book. This is a philosophy that Australian-born Mr Scott Hallsworth works by, and one that forms the foundation of the recipes in his new book Junk Food Japan.

The London-based chef is well-schooled in Japanese cooking. He joined the famous London restaurant Nobu as chef de partie in 2001, and went on to become its head chef. In 2014, he opened Kurobuta, a pop-up on the King’s Road inspired by izakayas – Japanese drinking dens where the food is as crowd-pleasing as the liquor. This was his chance to show off his “no-nonsense, almost playful way of creating dishes”, as he calls it in the introduction to his book. Instead of, for example, delicate sushi creations, Mr Hallsworth placed an emphasis on robust, punchy plates of food full of umami, salt, grilled meats and tempura: think wagyu sliders and tuna sashimi pizza. This concept clearly resonated, because Mr Hallsworth now has permanent eateries in London’s Chelsea and Marble Arch.

For those of us not in London, Junk Food Japan now allows us to replicate this satisfying approach to Japanese food at home. Mr Hallsworth’s signature dishes include beef fillet tataki and little shrimp tempura, but for a true taste of summer, we’ve extracted the recipe for barbecued ribs, below.