Learn this one simple cooking technique and take your culinary skills to another level of sophistication.
What is Tataki?
Tataki is a cooking technique typically used in Japanese cuisine. According to legend, it was invented in the 17th century by a samurai from Tosa, in the prefecture of Kochi, after meeting European travellers who cooked food on a grid at very high temperatures.
It's used mainly for cooking fish - especially tuna - but can also be used to prepare delicious meat recipes. The secret of this type of cooking is the temperature of the pan: which must be very high, to allow quick cooking. The result? Seared on the outside, raw on the inside, moist and delicious pieces of fish or meat.
Here are some tips to prepare a tataki according to the rules of Japanese cuisine.
Tuna Tataki: The Traditional Technique
1. To begin, marinate the tuna for about an hour in a preparation of soy sauce, sugar and lemon juice (or yuzu). If you wish, you can also add grated ginger or lemongrass.
2. Heat a pan. When it's searingly hot, grill the tuna for a few seconds on each side. Thanks to the Maillard reaction the fish will be well cooked on the outside and pink and moist on the inside.
3. Cut the tuna into thick slices and roll it into the toasted sesame seeds.
Top tip: for an even more appetizing tataki lightly toss the sesame seeds in a pan, before using them to cover your fish, in order to awaken their aroma.
Swordish Tataki by chef Andrea Marinello
If you want to try tataki using other ingredients than tuna, you can try swordfish tataki.
1. Marinate the fish in the soy sauce mixture.
2. Then roll it in poppy seeds to cover all sides.
3. Finally, place the swordfish in a hot pan, letting it cook for a few seconds on each side.
Normally, tataki is served with a teriyaki sauce, soy sauce or ponzu sauce.
Alternatively, you could also enjoy it with a good mayonnaise with coriander or wasabi, for a tangy touch and a typical Japanese flavor. Here's how to prepare a delicious mayonnaise.
This method of cooking is mainly for cooking fish but can also give good results with meat. The concept is the same: start by marinating the meat (beef, pork or veal) in a preparation based on soy sauce, and then grill it at a very high temperature, so as to cook it very quickly on the outer part.
Then, it is sliced and that's it, your tataki is ready to be tasted!
If tradition dictates a skillet for tataki cooking, it is also possible to try cooking it in the oven.
1. Start by turning on the oven to maximum power, using the grill mode.
2. Leave a baking sheet in the oven so that it warms up. When the oven is hot, open the door and place on the baking sheet, being careful not to burn yourself.
3. Place the fish, previously marinated, on the parchment paper. After 40 seconds of heat, turn it to let it cook on all sides.
While this technique is not always easy to re-create the same thermal shock achieved with the stove, with a little practice, you will achieve similar results!
If you like Japanese food, check out our article about yakitori.