Fiona Ulema, author of ‘Japanese Food Made Easy’

Fiona Ulema, author of ‘Japanese Food Made Easy’

Fiona Uyema, author of ‘Japanese Food Made Easy’ tells us about her favourite eateries and the best thing she has ever cooked

What’s your earliest food memory?
Making brown bread and scones with my mother. My sisters and I loved melting cheese on top of her brown scones. It’s something I still do, which reminds me of my childhood.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned on your career path?
Always push yourself to move out of your comfort zone. This will inevitably lead to great things and alienate fear.

What is the best thing you ever cooked?
Homemade miso ramen. I really focused on the stock, as this is where all the taste comes from and makes ramen so delicious. In Japan, each ramen bar has its own secret stock recipe, which is passed from generation to generation.

What is your pet peeve in the kitchen?
I love creating dishes in the kitchen but I’m not as fond of washing dishes.

Which kitchen tool could you not live without?
My Japanese rice cooker. I can taste the difference between rice cooked in it and other ones that I bought in the past. It has so many useful functions including a timer. I love it because it makes my life easier.

What is your current ingredient obsession?
Japanese soy sauce. It’s so versatile, you can use it on anything – even dessert.

Who/what are your biggest influences?
The Japanese approach to food and appreciation for it. From a very young age Japanese children learn about food in school by getting involved in the preparation and clean-up of their hot school lunches. For Japanese people, food is not just fuel, it’s the essence of life.

What was your most memorable meal?
A Japanese tasting menu called ‘kaiseki’ that my family and I enjoyed when I visited Japan last November. There were seven courses each focusing on local and seasonal produce. The presentation was immaculate and, even after seven courses; I didn’t feel uncomfortably full as the food was so light yet full of taste.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Chocolate – I love dark chocolate and mint or dark chocolate and hazelnut.

Dream dinner party guest?
Ed Sheeran. I could listen to him all night … and I’m pretty sure he loves sushi.

What are your favourite eateries at home and abroad?
I’m lucky to have some really good restaurants on my doorstep; two of my favourites are Vie de Chateaux and Las Radas Tapas in Naas. Looking further afield, I have to mention Nobu in London.

What/who inspires you?
The Japanese obaa-chans (grandmothers) that I became friends with while living in a rural village in Japan. They are fantastic cooks and stay healthy and fit into their old age.

Let us in on your top foodie tip…
Let the natural flavours come through in food and try not to overcook food.

Click here to read Your Definitive Guide to Japanese Ingredients