Since I returned in June from three months of cooking in Japan, I've been itching to keep building my skills. Luckily, Abe-san, the chef of the fabulous En Japanese Brasserie in lower Manhattan, graciously invited me into his spacious open kitchen. So now every Wednesday I pull a shift helping out there. (Come in for dinner and wave!) Abe-san is an all-around great guy and a rocking chef. He reels off a laundry list of prep work which I scribble on a paper napkin, and then I get to work under his and his cooks' patient and instructive guise. Let's see, in the last couple of weeks, I've cleaned and broken fish, boned chicken legs, prepped duck, sliced tons of veggies, and much more. Although my katsuramuki technique is still shaky (Abe-san is like a human lathe, just jaw-dropping), I'm learning a ton about cutting. Japanese knife work is a kung fu, meaning a skill you keep improving and improving and improving -- the journey never ends.
Besides giving my trusty knife a workout, Abe-san has also been teaching me how to cook a bunch of dishes. I've been fascinated watching him prepare chahan, Japanese style fried rice. It's fast and furious, and so damn tasty. I asked my friend Jesse, who helps manage En, to grab his video camera to catch Abe-san doing his funky fried rice thing. Check out the video below to catch the technique. I walk through the dish with Abe-san but I'm sworn to secrecy about some of the natural flavorings -- hey, a restaurant needs its secrets! Even without the secret elixer, you'll cook incredible chahan from watching what he does. Here's the video:
Thanks Abe-san and Jesse!