By MIKA OMURA/ Staff Writer
June 8, 2023 at 07:00 JST
Editor’s note: In the Taste of Life series, cooking experts, chefs and others involved in the field of food introduce their special recipes intertwined with their paths in life.
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In 1977, Masayo Waki flew to France to study the nation's authentic cuisine and entered Le Cordon Bleu, the renowned culinary school in Paris.
When she began taking classes, she was amazed at the stance of the lecturers who did not hold anything back in their teaching.
They would explain the procedures while cooking and when questioned, gave clear answers by citing the reasons.
“There was a constant flow of questions and answers and the lecturers spoke nonstop. Nothing was kept back,” she recalls.
The notion accepted in the East to learn by watching and stealing the master’s skills went out the window.
One day, she attended a class to make onion tarts.
The lecturer formed a heap of flour on the worktable. A dent was made in the center and salt and egg were added there. Bit by bit, the surrounding flour was mixed in.
When the dough took on the hardness of worked butter, butter was added and through the use of a semicircular tool for confectionery production known as a scraper, the flour and butter were mixed in a cutting motion.
It was a beautiful and clean handling by a professional intent on not wasting any ingredient down to even a single grain.
Then it was the students’ turn. As she mixed the egg and flour, the dough kept sticking to her hand.
When she muttered, “Oh no, it has gotten messy” without thinking, the lecturer pointed out, “What’s messy is your hand and not the ingredients.”
A cook should not make light of how to handle the ingredients. She took the lesson to heart.
From then on, she went over the process by making the tart many times and served it to her friends until it became one of her specialties.
When she made the tart in the spring using newly harvested onions after returning to Japan, she noticed that it turned out softer and tasted sweeter. She also gave the recipe another twist.
By removing the cheese from the recipe, the sweetness of the onion came out sharper and the egg turned out fluffier. The tart that became tastier by way of subtraction is special to Waki.
Although the season of newly harvested onions is about to end, the recipe can also be applied to regular onions.
Masayo Waki is a cooking expert born in Tokyo in 1955. She lived in Paris for about 10 years to learn French cuisine. She introduces not only French but various dishes on TV and in magazines and develops various kitchen tools as well. In February, she published “Ichiban shinsetsude oishii IH kukkingu reshipi” (Most friendly and tasty recipes for induction cooking) from Sekaibunka Holdings.
BASIC COOKING METHOD
Main Ingredients (For 1 tart tin 23 cm in diameter serving about 6)
Ingredient A for tart dough (150 grams flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 75 grams unsalted butter, 1 medium-size egg), 500 grams newly harvested onion, 20 grams unsalted butter, 50 ml water, 1/3 tsp salt, bit of pepper, Ingredient B for egg mixture (1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 100 ml fresh cream, 30 ml milk, 1/4 tsp salt, bit of pepper)
1. To make tart dough, mix flour, salt, egg and butter in Ingredient A as described in article. When mixture takes on pebbly texture, mix by rubbing dough using base of palms. Without kneading, gather dough into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and leave in fridge for about 1 hour.
2. Finely slice onion, add to pot with butter, water, salt and pepper and place on heat with lid. When onion becomes transparent, remove lid and cook until almost no water remains. Cool until no longer piping hot.
3. Roll (1) using rolling pin until it is 3 mm thick and a size larger than tart tin. Lay dough in tart tin. Make some holes on bottom with fork, lay aluminum foil. Place tart weight and bake in oven heated to 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove weight and bake for another 5 minutes until bottom portion is thoroughly baked.
4. Break egg in Ingredient B and apply some on bottom of tart while still hot as if filling holes.
5. Mix remaining egg wash from (4) with others in Ingredient B. Add (2) to (4) and pour in egg mixture. Bake in oven heated to 180 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool until no longer piping hot, cut and serve.
About 360 kcal and 1.2 grams salt per portion
(Nutrient calculation by the Nutrition Clinic of Kagawa Nutrition University)
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From The Asahi Shimbun’s Jinsei Reshipi (Life Recipe) column
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