Japanese Fusion

Photos above by Zak Yasin

It is important to understand both Japanese and South American food cultures; simply mixing soy sauce and miso into a Latin dish is a violation.

Chef Toshiro Konishi

I recently returned from a trip to Colombia. I was surprised to see what a long shadow Japan cast over South American cuisine. This is especially true of Peruvian food, particularly the dishes using pristine seafood from the coast of Cartagena.

Fusion dishes often demonstrate the overwrought imaginations of young chefs, but Nikkei cuisine is different. Nikkei refers to the Japanese communities that were created when immigrant laborers migrated to South America, often gaining a foothold in their new countries by working in the fields.

Nikkei cuisine is not just a mash-up of different ingredients. Since both Japan and Peru have a Pacific coastline, it was natural for the Japanese immigrants to mix seafood with the local produce like chili peppers, cilantro, and avocado, which they encountered in their new country. The combination of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines resulted in an entirely new category of dishes using raw fish, including tiraditos and ceviches. Traditionally ceviches are made with fish that has been cubed and marinated in citrus. Tiraditos are made with fish sliced sashimi-style and dressed right before serving. Generally, I think a mild white-fleshed fish is best for tiraditos, while a stronger, oilier fish like salmon or mackerel works best in ceviches.


Peruvian-Style Cerviche

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