James May: Oh Cook! (2020–2023): Season 2, Episode 2 - Japanese - full transcript

James puts his culinary skills to the test as he tackles the exquisite and delicate world of Japanese cooking. Katsu curry, vegetable tempura, and Temaki rolls are all on the menu, but whilst James is surprisingly adept with a sha...

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Hello, you bunch of cooks.

Welcome back to Oh Cook! 2, and this time

we are going to do Japanese food,

which to most people...
most people outside of Japan, anyway...

is rather intimidating,
because it's precise,

it's meticulous,
it has specific ingredients,

it's arranged in a special way,

it requires fantastic knives...
I have some...

and most people
probably just wouldn't bother,

but we're going to.

- Kanpai.
- Kanpai.

[James] To honor
the Land of the Rising Sun,

this episode is all about presentation...

Too high?

- Oh, no, come on.
- Yeah.

[James] ...endurance...

- Aah!
- ...and perfection.

It's crap, actually, yes, let's be honest.

Right, we're going to begin,
although it may come

third in the show, with katsu curry.

Curry and Japan don't seem

to go together,
but, in fact, they do, because

curry was introduced to the Japanese,

allegedly, by the British.

Because British sailors
who'd been in India

had food on board that had been coated

with curry powder and the like to make it

a bit more flavorsome,
because, let's be honest,

it would've been biscuits
or bully beef or whatever.

They went to Japan, as Japan
opened up in the 19th century,

and the Japanese thought, "We like that.

We'll have that off you
and we'll make curries."

To make the katsu sauce,
you will need two chopped carrots,

one diced onion,
two crushed garlic cloves,

700 milliliters of chicken stock,

one tablespoon of honey,

one heaped tablespoon of plain flour,

one and a half tablespoons
of curry powder,

and not forgetting
one tablespoon of soy sauce.

Now, despite having
one of the sharpest knives

on the planet, for onion dicing,

nothing beats this little
gadget from series one.

How much of this do you actually want?

That's... just insane.

- You've never seen it before?
- No, never seen it before.

It's a chopper-upper-er.
Right, oil in the pan.

Takes about 12 minutes
for this initial bit.

Once I've sweated down
the onions with the garlic

and the carrot and the honey in it, I add

straightforward, supermarket medium

curry powder. You can put the hot stuff

- in if you want...
- [Tom] Hold it up again.

[Tom] Too high.

♪ ♪

And... flour.


[James] And having played
an exhausting game of

Higher, Higher, Lower, Lower
with the crew,

I sweat off the chopped onions
with a drizzle

of oil in a medium-hot pan,

together with the honey and carrots,

and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

The thing about, uh, adding honey or sugar

is it's not necessarily to make,

to make the curry sauce sweet.

It's actually to take the edge
off some of the spiciness,

take the harshness out of it.

You know, anything that has
sort of spices, mustard, pepper.

That's right, isn't it, Dan?

Sorry, I was looking at
vegetable choppers on Amazon.

- Oh.
- [laughs]

Shall we have a little spot of sake
while we're doing that?

'Cause it's delicious,

especially when it's served correctly,

as it is here, at a temperature
of whatever it is.

Um, dubious quality sake was chilled,

because that disguised
how horrible it was.

Decent sake, such as I have here,
can be served

at a low room temperature

and will be perfectly delicious.

Ah, yes!

About halfway through, stir in

the crushed garlic and cook
for another six or so minutes,

until the onions have softened,

then add the curry powder
and continue stirring.

Just let that heat through a bit,
because it's spices,

obviously, they do need to cook slightly.

[inhales deeply] Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Some sort of madras-type curry powder.

I've travelled around Japan
quite a bit. I've never had

really hot katsu curry.

It tends to be spicy
and aromatic rather than,

you know, blow your bits off.

Now we'll start to add

the flour, which is what
will help turn it into a sauce.

We'll do this a little bit at a time,

so we don't get lumps.

Right, stock.

Little bit at a time,

so it gets a chance to work
on all that stuff in there.

Continue adding the stock and stir.

Turn the heat down and simmer

for 20 minutes.
Whilst the sauce thickens,

it's time to make the chicken katsu.

Take two chicken fillets
and slice them lengthways

to make four pieces of thin, flat chicken.

Sandwich them between clingfilm, and,

using a rolling pin,
gently compress the chicken

to even out the thickness.

I might have overdone that slightly.

Shall I do that again, but do it

with slightly more finesse this time?

- [Tom] Yes.
- [James] As befitting a culture
and a cuisine

that is based very much

on elegance and restraint.


There's a massive bit
of chicken on the fridge.


No, that's a fridge magnet. That's one

of Nikki's fridge magnets in
the shape of a piece of chicken.


[James] In the interests
of health and safety,

I've been told to mention
that during this stage

lots of raw meat was handled,

so I constantly kept
washing my hands in soap

and water.

And in the interests
of making a decent show,

we've cut all those bits out.

Right, now we're going to...

katsu this, um, with egg,

flour... it's plain flour...


We add a couple
of tablespoons of soy sauce

to the beaten egg.
It's Japanese breadcrumbs,

which are called...
oh, God, hang on a minute.

- Call... uh...
- [crewman] Panko.

Panko, thank you.

Panko breadcrumbs...
panko meaning "bread,"

and the "ko" bit
meaning "very small pieces,"

but it's made
with a specific type of bread.

It's made by a sort of
electric inductance method,

which means the bread rises and
forms but doesn't have a crust,

and therefore you don't get
the little brown bits in it.

So I've never done this,
but I've been told that if you use

your hands alternately,
you can do this in such a way

that you only end up with one eggy hand,

and the other hand should
stay relatively clean.

So you pick up one piece
of your beaten-up

chicken breast, you dust it in the flour.

This is effectively my dry hand.

Okay, that's floured.

And then in the other hand,

that is egged and...


That hand, you see, remains clean.

That hand...

slightly eggy.

Chicken breast, flour.

No! Bugger.

Egg... [laughs]

Fully cover your chicken pieces

in the breadcrumb mixture
to ensure a nice, crispy finish

once cooked.

Right, here we go.

Lay your katsu chicken
in about 15 millimeters

of hot oil to cook.

It's only about three
or four minutes per side.

Let's use the ancient lab clock,
small amount of sake.

Make sure you cook
both sides of your chicken,

then remove from the pan
and keep in a warm place.

[grunting] Ow!

Next, blend your curry sauce to remove

any remaining lumps of carrot and onion.

I would call that a fairly
comprehensively zizzed...

Oh, no, there's a bit there, hang on.

No, it's still there.

There we are.

Right, I believe we are

ready to serve, and I'm hoping that Nikki

will emerge
with a warmed plate with a nice,

neat dome of plain Japanese rice
on it, let's see.

- [knocking]
- [Nikki] Hello?

Do you have a plate
with a prepared dome of...?

You do. Absolutely fantastic.

Well, if you'd like to come
out here I will serve you

your katsu curry.

[Nikki] Ooh, I'm excited about this.

[James] So, now using
my razor-sharp Japanese knife...

Oh, like butter.

Mm, right. If you'd like

to bring your plate
with the rice here for me.

We must arrange this neatly because...

we are in Japan.

- We like? And then...
- I like.

very elegant miniature ladle.

Does it need a bit
of something green on it?

[Nikki] Would you like me
to fetch something green?

Well, I don't know, a little sprig of...

Bear with me.

[James] You will have noticed,
if you're paying attention,

there's, there's an unblended
lump of carrot in there.

I bring green.

[James] Ah, beautiful.

[Tom] Okay, cut.

- Let's lazy Susan this.
- Oh, no.

- Come on.
- [Tom] Yeah. Yeah.

[James] So, begrudgingly, here it is

on our lazy Susan, chicken katsu curry

with rice and a sprig of greenery.

- Mmm.
- Is it?

- Mmm! Mmm!
- Is it "mmm"?

- Mmm.
- It's one of those. It's a "mmm."


Mmm! Well...

apart from it's gone a little bit cold

'cause those idiots were mucking around

with their lazy Susan shot,

I'd say that was spot-on.

Haiku: the heat of the oil,

the crash of the rolling pin,

fridge door now needs clean.


We are now going to make
tempura vegetables.

And the first disappointment
you're gonna have to deal with

is that they're not originally Japanese.

I'm afraid they're from Portugal.

And like so many other things,
they arrived in Japan

through sailors.

The original purpose
of what we now call tempura

was as a way of eating
during Christian fasting

and praying periods, 'cause
you weren't allowed to eat meat,

and it was a way
of making basic vegetables

a bit more interesting.

To make the batter mix,
you will need the dry ingredients,

which are 110 grams of plain flour,

40 grams of corn flour,

one and a half teaspoons of salt,

and half a teaspoon of white pepper.

Now this is to make the batter,
and for batter,

of course, you need some water.

We're using sparkling water.
That also makes it

nice and light, and that is in the fridge,

because the colder it is,

the better the batter will be.

I'm also going to add a few tablespoons

of this spectacular-looking gin.

We begin

by mixing the two flours together.

Sorry, the other ingredient
I didn't tell you about.

This is the work of the crew,
and I love it.

Down on the floor, they've positioned

the fire blanket.

This is absolutely crucial.

[sighs] Thanks for that.

Uh, where had I got to?

Right, the flours have gone in,
there goes the salt,

and there goes the pepper.

Once we've got those mixed together,

we can start putting the water in.


For this initial mix,
I'm going to use a fork.

We'll use the whisk at the end.
It should come out

about the consistency of...

a good double cream.

The bubbles in the water,
I mean in very simple terms,

will translate
to bubbliness in the batter.

It's got to be light, tempura.

It's not like fish and chip batter.

Lovely though that is,
that won't really work.

Um, other things
I should tell you about is that

it is important, apart from having the oil

at the right temperature,
to cook the vegetables

in batches so that
they all do at the same time,

and not too many of them,
'cause obviously if you

chuck a whole plateful in,
you will lower the temperature

of the oil and then your batter
isn't gonna go crispy,

and then they can stay warm
in the plate warmer of death

that Nikki's turned back up again.

Right, that's getting close

to the consistency I want.

At this point I'm going
to add the craft gin

from the South West of England.

It actually makes the batter paler,

lighter and even more crispy.

That was about the size

of a single gin and tonic
for Richard Hammond.

Right, transfer to the hand whisker.

Using this handcrafted gin
from the West Country

makes the batter lighter and tastier,

but I've been told to say that
other gins are also available.

But they're [bleep].

Right, that's my batter,
which we'll put close

to the, to the, uh, hob.

Dipping sauce. This is made
with rice wine vinegar,

Japanese mirin...


a bit of soy sauce.

Roughly two tablespoons
of the first ones and half

as much of the soy sauce.

Not absolutely critical,
but don't overdo the soy sauce,

otherwise the whole thing
will become too salty

and you'll just wake up

with a tempura hangover.

Okay, I'm now going to get Nikki out,

because we're heading for the panicky bit,

and I'm frankly quite nervous.


- Hello.
- Hello, uh...

I'm-I'm getting close to...

- ramping up the wok.
- Ramping up the wok.

There we go.

[James] Right, which one
would you like to do first?

[Nikki] Let's do the sweet potato first.

'Cause I think
that's gonna take the longest.

So, apparently, if you put

- a chopstick into the oil...
- Chopstick...

- Yes?
- ...if it fizzes, the oil's hot enough.

No, you do that. I'll...


[Nikki] No, it's not going to explode.
No, that's not hot enough.

- [James] No, no, nothing like hot enough.
- So let's ramp it up.

- Right.
- Wonder if we need a new chopstick

for each thing?

[James] As well as the sweet potatoes,

we'll be tempura-ing

Tenderstem broccoli,

lotus root, and sugar snap peas,

but you can try
whatever vegetables you want.

Ah, we've got some smoke going on now.

Dip your stick in and...

[Nikki] Oh, yeah, look, it's fizzing.
Can you see?

That is a fantastic top tip.

[Nikki] If your chopstick's fizzy,
it's ready.

- Thank you for my beer.
- No, it's a pleasure.

I got it from your fridge.

[opens bottle]

- Are you ready?
- Yes.

[James] It's going in. Whoa.
And there you go.

[Nikki] Shall we do some more? 'Cause
that's gonna take a few minutes to cook.

[James] Are we confident
that that works, though?

[Nikki] Yes, definitely.

I'll be temperature control.

[James] What you can also do is,
once they start cooking

and the batter starts forming,
splash little bits

of extra batter around the edges
of each one, 'cause that gives

you those nice little sort
of fronds of tempura batter.

Yeah, that is well hot, isn't it?

It is. I'm gonna turn it down a wee bit.

- I'll get the scraps.
- Yeah.

In a chip shop in Britain,
those would be sold separately

as "scraps," or "bits,"

depending on which bit
of the country you're from.

- [Nikki] Scraps in Yorkshire.
- Chips and bits, chips and scraps.

Look at this one, James. This one's got...

brilliant fronds on it.

- That's lovely.
- That's a very frondly...

It's a very frondy,
frondy piece of tempura.

Also, as they relax a bit
on the piece of kitchen towel,

some of that oiliness will disappear

and they will become
very, very crispy and light.

Okay. Lotus roots.

- [James] Right. Are you ready?
- [Nikki] I'm standing back.

[James] I'm gonna try and do this without

battering the-the sieve,
which is the important bit.

- I think just tip them in.
- Yeah.

[Nikki] Yes!

[James] And make sure they stay apart.

Stir them around a bit.

- [James] You want more of those?
- Yes, please.

[Tom] Okay, for this one, Gary,

can you go over shoulder, mate?

[James] This is better
as a two-person job.

I think you would agree it's, uh...

It does get a bit panicky by yourself

and it is easy to burn yourself.

- Ah, yes.
- [Nikki] Yes.

[James] Keep cooking in batches
until all your vegetables

- are done.
- [Nikki] Would you like to put these ones

into the... warm drawer?

- And there's another tray. Please.
- The warmer of death.

There is another tray.



- It's not that hot.
- [laughter]

What is wrong with you?

What's wrong with you?

- [laughter]
- [mutters]

- Have some beer.
- There's a constant battle

going on in this kitchen,

like I'm sure there is
in many kitchens around the world.

Because Nikki has fingers
made out of cast iron.

- Mine are delicate artist's fingers.
- [chuckling]

And as a result, Nikki's idea
of what is warm for the plate warmer

is actually more like the foundry

- I used to work in when I was in my...
- [laughs]

...late teens.

Once all your tempura is cooked,

arrange on a serving platter and add
an extra garnish as a finishing touch.

And here it is,

vegan-friendly vegetable tempura
complete with dipping sauce.

Right. Dive in.

[mutters with mouth full]

It's light, isn't it?

- It's, um...
- Really light and really crunchy.

It's almost not there.

It's not filling, obviously.

It's-it's... it's a light meal,

um, but extremely healthy,

despite being in batter,

which we tend to associate in-in the West
with unhealthy things.

[Nikki] I think it's brilliant,
'cause I think it's fun to make

- and it tastes great.
- And it's slightly dangerous.

- Mmm.
- Which adds to the flavor.

Adds a frisson of excitement.

- There is jeopardy.
- There is definitely jeopardy.

But we didn't have to use
the fire blanket.

Didn't have to use the fire blanket.

That's available for later in the series.



♪ ♪

Right. We're now going to make

salmon marinated with soy and ginger.

♪ ♪

Salmon has an interesting history
in Japan because,

up until 1980, it was considered
a sort of cheap, scrag-end fish.

It was only ever cooked...
things like deep-fried or grilled.

The idea of salmon as sashimi or sushi
only arrived in 1980,

when they started making imports
of very, very high-grade salmon

from Norway, of all places.

So, although you go
to a Japanese restaurant

and the salmon seems to be everywhere
in its raw form,

it's only really been like that
quite recently.

So this is a recipe
that involves grilling the salmon

at a very high temperature
very briefly under the grill.

To marinate 300 grams
of skinless salmon fillet,

you'll need two tablespoons of miso paste

and one tablespoon each
of grated fresh ginger,

sake, mirin, light soy sauce,

and caster sugar.

So, this is going to begin
with grating the ginger,

for which I need the ginger grater,
the Microplane thing,

the surform,
as we called this in the last series.

And I'm going to enjoy this, once again,
with a small portion of sake.

And I don't want people to start writing
in the comments section that,

"Oh, James drinks far too much.
And he can only make television

if he's had a drink." That's not true.

This isn't a dependency.

It's just that cooking with a drink,

especially a drink related
to the food you're making, is nice.

That's all it is.

[others chuckling]

Right. In a bowl, grate some ginger.

Not all of that.

Just a bit.

- [bouncing]
- [chuckling]

Three-second rule.


Remember, as usual, to keep retreating
your fingers as you do this.

Otherwise it will be salmon marinated
with miso, ginger and finger.

Right. We can now simply chuck
everything else in...

soy sauce...

...caster sugar,

the miso paste...

...uh, the mirin

and the sake.

And it already smells...


...yes, very Japanese.

Let's take a fork,

carefully blend those together.

Can you see what's happening here?

A brown sludge, essentially,
but a very tasty one.

We then take our salmon,
which is in the fridge, obviously,



We pop all that in there.

I don't know why people say that.
It's really annoying.

People pop things in the oven,

pop to the shops, pop it in the post box.

There you go. [pops lips]

Make sure it's all evenly coated.

And then you put it in the fridge

for about an hour.

Don't be tempted to think, "Oh, I'll do it
the day before and leave that overnight."

That's actually too long

and will affect the fish.

We put it in the fridge and immediately
remove from the fridge the one

that we did, in fact,
about an hour and 15 minutes ago.

Take the chilled, marinated salmon pieces

and place them
on a foil-lined baking tray.

Add some extra marinade
to make them extra tasty.

[pops lips] ...it under the grill.

I think about five minutes to begin with.

Halfway through the grilling,

take the salmon pieces out and coat them
with the remaining marinade.

It's nice, because, along some of the
edges, we're getting slight blackening,

which will add greatly to the flavor.

And... [pops lips] them back
under the grill for the final cooking.


[hums fanfare]

Although the bits around the-the pieces
of salmon are rather charred,

it isn't stuck to the, uh, the foil.

I've chosen to garnish my salmon with
toasted sesame seeds and spring onion.

Other decorations are available.

And there you have it.

Miso and ginger salmon bites.

[Nikki] That looks very good.

Well, it's very simple.

It's not a challenge,
even for the amateur chef, I don't think.

The only thing you have to remember is
not to leave it under the grill too long.

That's pretty much the only skill.

It's got a bit of spring onion on there.

It's nice. Really nice.

A bit more than nice. Mmm.

If you were at an embassy reception
or something like that

and somebody came up to you, you know,
with one of those mirror things

and said, "Piece of salmon marinated
in ginger and soy sauce,"

you'd say, "Ooh, yeah."

You'd talk about it the next day.

- You would. Delicious.
- You'd say,
"Oh, I was at the embassy last night...

I wish I knew
how they did that salmon thing.

It was absolutely fantastic."

That's how.

♪ ♪

Right, I can't believe
I'm going to say this

because I know
it's going to occasion great hilarity

for the crew and for you viewing at home.

I'm going to attempt to make temaki rolls.

[taiko drummers vocalizing]

I would like to say in my defense,
to get my excuses in early,

people who do this for a living in Japan
spend, I don't know, 20 years,

30 years or whatever living in a cardboard
box and learning to do it from a master.

Take 250 grams of warm sushi rice cooked
exactly to the instructions on the packet,

then add one teaspoon of salt

and two tablespoons of sugar

into 60 milliliters
of freshly boiled water and stir.

Once dissolved, add 100 milliliters
of mirin to the liquid.

It's really sort of like a low-grade sake
made with rice.

You can think of it as cooking sake,
if you like.

It's like that bottle of cheap white plonk
that you keep in the cupboard

when you're cooking, um, European food.

Add this liquid to the warm rice and mix

using your hands... not utensils... as this
may damage the delicate rice grains.

[taiko drummers vocalize]

The reason you do this
with the rice still warm...

um, not still boiling, obviously,

otherwise you wouldn't be able
to put your fingers in it...

is because it will absorb that better.

If you let it go cold, it won't.

Why am I doing...

You could probably speed this up or put
some Rachmaninoff over it, if you want.

[Tom] Is there any other music you
can suggest apart from Rachmaninoff?

- Well, no, that's 'cause...
that's what you always use.
- [chuckling]

Everything I say is cut out.

All the detail is gone.

There's a few slow-motion shots

and the slow movement from
Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto.

Everybody knows that.

- Tell me I'm wrong, Tom.
- No.

But it seems to work perfectly
every single time.


[humming continues]

[Tom] Actually, we could save

- a bit of money if James just sang it.
- [laughter]

[James] Right. Here we go.

I need some nori seaweed sheets.

You buy these in packets.

Put my rice back on there
so I can knock it over.

This has a shiny side.

That's the non-shiny side.

That is the shiny side.

Can you see the difference?

Shiny side down.

Very important. Otherwise
it won't stick together at the end.

About a third of it

has to be coated as evenly as possible

with about a tablespoon
of this prepared sushi rice.

So, just leave a little bit at the edge,

'cause we're going to fold that over
in a minute.

Gonna put a tiny bit more on there.

When it's rolled,

the mark of someone who is very good
at this is that the roll is firm.

If you're not very good at this,
the roll is floppy and dented and...

just... revolting.

There's the rice on there.

Right, now we're going to add
some wasabi.

I'll just talk about wasabi very briefly.

Most wasabi comes in a tube like this
as a paste.

It's often actually just a type
of horseradish with a bit of coloring

or one or two other things added to it.

That's the quick fix version.

You can buy the wasabi powder, like this.

This is actually grown in England.

Logo-free so that you can't see

that it's The Wasabi Company. [chuckles]

[Tom] Can you get rid of this fly?

How the [bleep]
do you expect me to get rid

- of a fly?
- [crew chatters indistinctly]

Time for me to channel my best Mr. Miyagi.

Or should I say May-agi?

So what you do with a fly is,
you clap your hands above it

- because it takes off.
- [crewman] Yeah.

- [James] Are you ready?
- [crewman] Yeah.

- [James] Did I get him?
- [crewman] No. There he is.

He's behind you, he's behind you.

- Where? [mutters]
- [overlapping chatter]

- Is he gone?
- [crewman 1] Yeah.
- [crewman 2] Yeah.

If you want to be really clever,
you can get a piece of wasabi.

That's what it looks like.

I've only just taken it out of its packet.

You can't expose it to the air
for too long,

otherwise it starts to go off.

That's only been out
for a couple of minutes.

And then you can use...

and I've got a new one here,
which is a present from Nikki...

a wasabi grater.

As with most things Japanese,

it's exquisite and it comes
in lovely packaging.

Let's put a bit of
real wasabi on this one.

So you go gratey-gratey-


Don't need a lot.

It's pretty potent stuff.
I should really put that back in its bag.

And then with a little brush...

And it's all stuck to the brush.

And then you can resort
to the tube of wasabi,

which is what most people will do.

This is pretty powerful,

so just put a few tiny little
drops here and there,

otherwise you'll blow yourself to bits.

For the filling,

add pickled ginger slices,

thin strips of cucumber and avocado,

then Japanese mayonnaise.

Should have put that on the rice,
but never mind.

We just put a little bit
of a squirt on there,

like so.

Next, add 12 precooked king prawns,

six chopped up for the filling
and the whole ones for decoration.

I'm gonna put a few
extra pieces of prawn inside,

and then when I've successfully rolled it,

we will pop... [pops lips]
a prawn on the top.

Now the fiddly bit.

Line one edge with water
and tightly roll the mixtures around

to form a cone.

I haven't got it pointy
enough at the bottom,

but let's imagine that's okay.

Take a nice chunk of prawn,

put it on the top like that.

Right, that's not... that's...
it's crap, actually, yes, let's be honest.

Keep making the rolls
until you've run out of mixture.

Or patience.

Sushi, certainly nigiri sushi,

you know, on the little pads of rice,

is a much more recent invention

because it's only been possible
relatively recently

to keep the fish chilled and so on.

In the very, very, very olden days,

nigiri sushi would have been made

with either vegetables or cured fish.

How's that?

[crew chatters indistinctly]

Right, that can be Nikki's,

'cause that's the best one.


- [Nikki] Hello?
- I managed one good one.

- Oh, excellent.
- This one's yours.

And as a special treat,

if you could hold it...

[Nikki] Maybe just a little bit.

It'll be hotter than the warming drawer.

[James] But the thing about wasabi
is that it does, it does taste hot,

but it doesn't linger like a chilli does.

You'll go, "Ah!"

But five or six seconds later
you'll be okay.

How does one eat this?


It's really nice.

- Is it?
- Mmm.

[James] It's like a sandwich,
in a way, except much better.

I mean, give me another 15 years
and those will be great,

- won't they?
- Mmm.

[James] Having eaten several rolls
without lazy Susan-ing them,

Director Tom has demanded
that I make some more,

whilst Nikki describes

how to make another bento box staple...

a chirashi salad.

[Nikki] So, chirashi salad
is traditionally made

with leftover sushi rice
and the bits and pieces

that you make your sushi with.

So the avocado and the cucumber

and bits of red pepper,
anything you've got to put, you'd put in.

And then you chop it up
and you mix it through your rice.

[James] It's like bubble and squeak
but Japanese.

- Not quite.
- No, it's not like
bubble and squeak, is it?

- No, no.
- That's just complete nonsense.

And then you finish it with furikake,

which is basically seaweed,
white and black sesame seeds.

I'll just tidy up a bit back here.

Okay, you tidy up.
I'll carry on over here.

[James] Oh, that transforms it,

- doesn't it?
- Really nice on fried eggs, that.

- Is it?
- I love it.

That's nice. That's very pretty.

That can go on the lazy Susan, definitely.


♪ ♪

[James] And there you have it.

Handcrafted king prawn temaki rolls

and a chirashi salad.

Now, viewers, I know a lot of you

are bouncing up and down
on your chair saying,

"Where is it, where is it, where is it?
Surely they're going to do it."

Yes, we are.

It's in this drawer,
and it is, of course...

the bento box.

These originated

in the 16th century with travelers.

It's a way of transporting
your packed lunch around, basically,

and with the rise of things
like the railways,

they caught on massively across Japan.

Children take them to school,

people take them into the office,
and they fill them with delicious things

that they're going to eat
in the middle of the day.

The big question is,

what shall we put in?

You can only really have
one thing per compartment.

- So, rice.
- Yes.

And then I think we can put
the temaki roll in there,

the pieces of salmon in there,
and the edamame in there.

[Nikki] Okay.

- Would you like me to pour you a beer?
- Yes, please.

[James] Where have all the glasses gone?

Have we used them up
drinking the other beer?

[Nikki] I think we have.

Thanks to the magic of television,
I can simply put my hand out like this...

...and a glass will appear.

We'll be filling our bento box
with chicken katsu curry,

vegetable tempura,

miso and ginger salmon,

and the king prawn temaki rolls
with chirashi salad.

- Oh, look, look.
- [Nikki] Ah!

[James] That's a thing of beauty.

Well, that pretty much
brings us to the end of our

Oh Cook! Japanese special,

and I hope to some extent that demystifies

the whole Japanese food-making thing,
because most of us are tyrannized by it

because we know Japanese food
is about presentation

and meticulous preparation

and the ingredients, you know,
they take it all very seriously.

And ours is a bit amateur, admittedly.

It's a little bit clunky,
but it's all tasted pretty good.

It tastes really good, yes.

Yeah, and it's all reasonably presentable.

So all that remains, really,
is for us to say thank you for watching,

- and... kanpai.
- Kanpai.

[♪ Joji Hirota & The London Taiko
Drummers: "Shibu Roku Dance"]