In Hong Kong where the influence of different cultures is great and food trends come and go faster than the hustle and bustle of the city itself, you can be forgiven for not paying attention when a new fusion food comes to town. But Nikkei has really caught our attention.
The Japanese-Peruvian blended cooking style has won approval worldwide and, just from looking at the colourful dish, it’s not hard to see why.
But why exactly has this food trend become so popular in recent years?
And what’s the common ground between these two seemingly different countries?
We put Nikkei, the Peruvian-Japanese cooking style, under the microscope to find out more.
What’s It All About?
Nikkei dates back to over a century ago when a large number of Japanese workers came to Peru on work contracts in the late 19th century.
After a large number of the Japanese residents settled in the country, the community had an inevitable cultural impact.
One of the key impacts is the cooking fusion: Nikkei.
Typically, Nikkei is the result of Japanese dishes combined with the flavours and cooking techniques of the indigenous Peruvians.
The result is a powerful colour explosion of food that is almost too beautiful too eat – and equally as delicious.
What a beauty 👌🏼 #repost #terroir "Nikkei, over a decade" . In 1889, thousands of Japanese migrated to Peru in a promise of a job. Many choose to stay and have families there, thus had huge growth of Japanese population in Peru and a significant cultural impact on the country, which resulted in the birth of Nikkei cuisine; a japanese peruvian fusion food that has its root lies in the significance of both their tradition give to fresh fish. Tonight, Nikkei will be presented in a dish called #Tiradito, a combination of Peruvian ceviche and Japanese sashimi which embodies what nikkei has to offer. . Tiradito of Hamachi | Passion fruit leche de tigre | Piquillo pepper . Supported by @microfood.idn and @sajivaceramics . . . . #nikkei #peru #japan #ceviche #chefsroll #chefsofinstagram #theartofplating #gastronogram #gastroart #chefstalk #foodstarz_official #expertfood #cookniche #gourmetartistry #gourmetart #foodartchefs #jktfood #jktculinary #jktfoodies #jktfoodbang #eatandtreats #anakjajan #chefsplatform #fairmonthotel #fairmontjakarta
.At the heart of this food trend lies fresh fish.
Both nations use fish in dishes across their two countries, and it’s no surprise that this is the main reason that Nikkei is a harmonious and complimentary meeting of the two countries.
Peru’s abundance and quality of fish makes it the perfect location for creating fish based dishes, and this is reflected in restaurants all over Peru.
There’s a reason fish based dish Ceviche is one of Peru’s most popular dishes.
Fish is also very popular in Japan, used in many dishes such as sushi.
Small tweaks to classic Peruvian plates over time meant that a lot of meat based dishes were swapped with fish.
Typical ingredients were swapped out and with similar alternatives found commonly in Japanese cooking.
It’s a slow process, which over time has become popular with other cultures.
And now, as it spreads around the world, other countries have adopted the cuisine.
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The mash-up was popularized in the 80s thanks to top chef Nobu Matsuhisa and the likes of Ferran and Albert Adria with Pakta: a Peruvian and Japanese themed restaurant in Barcelona that’s inspired by Nikkei.
Matsuhisa has previously used elements of the cuisine in his restaurants worldwide.
Though the recent rise in popularity of Peruvian food has seen the cuisine enter the spotlight and gain attention from many high profile chefs.
Finding popularity in Europe in particular, the food’s versatile nature and the possibility for experimentation has made it a food fusion that’s here to stay.
[Lima, Peru] Back in Lima and had a wonderful lazy Sunday with this al fresco lunch @barrachalaca!!! I almost forgot how AMAZING all the food is in this city 😍 I'm going to miss this so much 😭 We got the Ceviche Chalaca, Tallarin Saltado Marino (Nikkei style fried noodles) and Chicharron de Calamar!!! ALL so good! 🙌🏻
What To Expect
Peruvian cuisine typically takes on a harsher level of acidity to what we’re used to in Hong Kong, and as such, Nikkei food has been updated to reflect this.
Diners should still expect lots of raw onion, lime juice, and coriander, but with a milder flavour than what you would eat in Peru.
The aim is a delicate balance of sweet and sour that’s effective but not overpowering.
Variations of the food trend may introduce the use of yuzu, coriander, garlic and chili.
Dishes will also include quinoa, cassava, and potato.
Though Nikkei incorporates a variety of dishes, popular options include squid nigiri with huacatay salt, tuna te-maki with puffed quinoa, and shichimi and sea bass ceviche with kumquats leche de tigre.
Fresh fish is combined with limes, corn, Peruvian hot peppers, yucca and any of the varieties of Peru’s huge bank of potatoes.
Both countries also cook with a lot of rice, so you’ll see plenty of the grain within this type of cooking.
Typically, flavours bring together the delicate palette of Japan and the spicy elements of Peru.
It really shouldn’t work, but it does.
And the result is a colourful taste sensation that’s got us all going back for more.
Check out our post on healthy food swap ideas for more food inspiration here
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