This article was contributed by Omid Jaffari, an accomplished raw food chef who is living in Japan. He will be our special guest for a series of workshops and seminars we’ll be hosting in Montreal this September. For more information about attending these workshops, please contact Ildiko at RawinMontreal.com or email her here: info (at) rawinmontreal.com.
One thing that I really enjoy living in Japan, is that Japanese food is characterized by 1) its lightness 2) simple flavors 3) ease of preparation and 4) artful presentation.
To me this is the vision of raw foodism–a fresh perspective with simplicity of flavors that dance on your palate and provide well-balanced nutrients.
1. Light: Keep the recipes simple by choosing minimum amount of ingredients that are easily digested and consumed. 2. Simple Flavors: Use ingredients that resonate and accommodate each other, in flavors, colors and textures. Here are some ideas for you to work with: * Herbs & Radishes * Cucumbers * Tomatoes (small amounts) * Sprouts (curly sprouts are very gentle on the palate) * Carrots (julienned for milder consumption and taste)
Fruits * Strawberries (small amounts) * Mango (small amounts and thinly sliced) * Oranges (in segments) * Grapefruits (in segments)
Nuts * Pistachios (small amounts and gently crushed) * Walnuts (small amounts and gently crushed, without the skin if * possible) * Sesame seeds
Note: Please use small amounts of oil in your recipes, and try to keep with one kind at a time.
3. Ease of Preparation: Before you start assembling your dishes, do all the prep work (this means washing, cutting and preparing your vegetables the way they are described in the recipes) put them in separate bowls and lay them out on your working station.
* If you are prepping fruit, make sure you cut the ones that brown last. You can put them in cold water or rub them with lemon juice to slow down the process (lemon is especially good for avocados).
* Make sure you wipe your knife clean in between cutting various fruits and vegetables or you will get a strange color and strange tastes which will leave food looking messy and dull!
* If you are not following a recipe, but using your inspiration, before cutting your produce think about the tastes you want in your mouth at one given time. For example if you want a red onion, tomato and cucumber taste in your mouth cut them all the same size and style: do not cut one julienne, the other diced and one in a tulip. Think about the balance you want in your mouth because gourmet cuisine is all about delicate balance. (The exception to this rule is that onion can always be cut into a fine brunoise because of its strong taste).
4. Artful Presentation: Garnish is the essential finishing touch to any dish because one eats with their eyes before eating with their mouth. The first impression that you have of a dish will be the lasting one, no matter what it tastes like. Now when we think of garnish you are probably thinking of parsley or something that you won’t even eat. Wrong! Garnish is an important edible part of every dish to the eye and to the taste. Think abou: * Using the ingredients in the salad as a garnish * Stacking food with different colors and textures * Following the natural patterns of food * Creating height
When you enter the realm of cooking, that space where time does not exist, it is the creative spark inside of you pushing you to create and manifest. Do not question yourself or your next move. Go with the flow. Be an Artistic Chef and go with the creative call inside of you. The best way to achieve this is by following simple steps written above. Creative Cheffing is like having a healthy body: if there are blocks, things do not flow properly and you have to clear the way for the natural flow to pass (the creative current). This is not only a cheffing tool but also a life tool. Enjoy.
Here’s an example that is elegant, light, has simple flavors, ease of preparation and artful presentation:
Salad prepared with salad leaves, strawberries, vine tomatoes, daikon and curly sprouts with a citrus dressing. It’s very delicious and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon. Serves about 2 People. You’ll need: For the Salad • 4 cups mixed baby salad leaves • Couple of cherry tomatoes or vine tomatoes • 1 cup curly sprouts • 4 basil leaves, torn gently • 1 Tbsp thyme, torn gently • 6 strawberries, halved • Couple of thinly sliced daikon
For the Dressing • ½ juice of lemon • 1 red grapefruit, juiced • A dash of Nama Shoyu • 3 Tbsp grape seed oil
For the Garnish • Edible flowers or just herbs, washed and refrigerated Method For the Salad
Wash all the vegetables, drain the excess water, toss together in a bowl and refrigerate with a damp cloth over it for about 5 minutes. For the Dressing
Blend all the ingredients for the dressing and pour it in a jar and refrigerate it for 10 minutes.
For the Garnish Wash all the edible flowers and place them in the fridge so that they do not welt.
Mounting your Work Just before serving, pour the dressing on the salad leaves, toss it to coat all the salad well with the dressing and divide the salad between the two serving bowls. Sprinkle edible flowers and/or herbs and serve immediately.
Case Study Summer salad prepared with salad leaves and strawberries with a citrus dressing. 1. Mixed baby salad leaves are baby leaves like baby spinach, baby rocket leaves, etc. They are good sources of dietary fiber and vitamins. 2. Pink grapefruit has pink colored segments. It has a sour taste. 3. Lemon adds a fresh zesty delicate citrus flavor to the dishes. 4. Nama Shoyu is a raw, natural soy sauce made with wheat and fermented naturally. 5. Grape seed oil is cold pressed salad oil from seeds of grapes.
Health Benefits 1. This is low in calories and proteins, but provides good amount of carbs and fats. 2. Excellent source of vitamin A, a natural antioxidant that reduces acne, and promotes healthy, smooth and radiant skin. 3. Excellent source of vitamin C, a natural water soluble antioxidant. It enhances the body’s immune system, increases the elasticity of skin and blood vessels, and prevents bruising of the skin. 4. Good source of vitamin E, a natural antioxidant that scavenges the free radicals that oxidize fats, preserve the integrity of cell membranes, and protect our body against free radical damage. 5. Excellent source of vitamin K. It promotes the mineralization of bones and thus strengthens bones. 6. Good source of folic acid. It is essential in the synthesis of hemoglobin in the blood. Folic acid also prevents the accumulation of an intermediary metabolite called homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood are associated with heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. 7. Provides moderate amounts of minerals like manganese, calcium and iron. 8. Very good source of phytosterols, which are plant compounds that have beneficial health effects.
Nutritional Information Each serving of this delicious salad provides the following nutrients: Calories: 16% (223 Cal); Total Fats: 34%; Saturated Fats: 11%; Carbohydrates: 21%; Proteins: 6%; Fiber: 15%; Calcium: 15%; Iron: 12%; Manganese: 25%; Vitamin A: 84%; Vitamin C: 127%; Vitamin E: 76%; Vitamin K: 288%; Folic acid: 24%; Phytosterols: 56 mg.