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Kinome Japonica is the platform through which chef Sachiko Saeki can share her explorations, knowledge and skills in Japanese cuisine with food lovers and communities in the U.K and abroad.
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photography and design by Pak Keung Wan
sugar cloud

あけぼのの白き雨ふる木の芽かな

Dawn breaks / drizzle of white rain / on sprouting buds  -  Sojo Hino

 

The spring arrives with the scent of moss, suspended in the drizzle of rain is a sense of anticipation. In the Japnanese traditional short poem called Haiku, Konome (the same character but pronounced differently) is the seasonal word for spring time. I see the English spring in there too.

 

Kinome simply means spring buds. It is also a herb from the Sansho tree with a strong distinctive aroma. The Sansho tree is one of the traditional spice trees in Japan and every single part can be used for cooking in different ways. This use of the whole is typical of Japanese cooking methods.

 

I love to think that what I can present is not simply about my skill and techniques. I look to nature's processes, such as fermentation, where the bacteria can make ingredients so tasty. To cook is to take part in something extraordinary. It's not about me. Kinome draws from the same Japanese philosophy to create something delicious on the plate.

 

Cooking binds Sachiko to her family's history. It is part of family banter that

Sachiko's first encounter with the world was the scent of vinegar drifting

from her mother's hands, a result of years of making sushi for their restaurant in Japan. Helping in her parent's business formed a focal part in Sachiko's upbringing.

 

Japanese food remains central to Sachiko's life. In 2009 she visited Japan

to research Kobe Beef and was given access to film and document different layers of the industry visiting farms, auction houses, specialist butchers and restaurants. In 2011 a visit to Koya-San, a Buddhist Temple Complex in Japan led to research on Shojin Ryori - vegetarian Buddhist monk food.

 

Through her allotment she has tested how Japanese vegetables would fare

on foreign soil, such as mizuna, shungiku and gobo, all with mixed results. It was these experiences with vegetables that attracted the production team behind Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall where she featured in River Cottage Veg Heroes.

 

Sachiko has developed her craft in the London kitchens of Wabi in Holborn Mitsukoshi in Piccadilly and as an assistant to the Head Chef at Umu, a Michelin-star Japanese restaurant in Mayfair. She went on to develop her skill

with fish at Atari-Ya, a Japanese fishmonger's also in London, producing sashimi for a largely Japanese clientele.

 

Sachiko enjoys sharing her knowledge and has taught at Leiths School of Food and Wine and Demuths Vegetarian Cookery School. A recent research trip to Japan enabled her to acquire a Tofu Meister Advanced qualification and an International Kikisake-shi certification (sake sommelier). She continues to share this new found knowledge through classes at the Harborne Food School, Birmingham alongside a new relationship with The Farm Stratford.

 

an offering of aubergines