Japanese-Mexican Chef Katsuji Tanabe's Surprising Tools For Cooking Kosher
Tools of the Trade is a new series in which we ask chefs, bartenders and other restaurant folks which tools they simply can't live without. Today we talk to MexiKosher chef Katsuji Tanabe.
MexiKosher Katsuji Tanabe
If L.A.'s greatest food strength is multiculturalism, then chef Katsuji Tanabe is a fine poster boy. Born in Mexico to a Japanese father than Mexican mother, Tanabe has made a career for himself cooking creative kosher food for L.A.'s Jewish community, first at Shilo's, a kosher steakhouse, and now at MexiKosher, his kosher Mexican restaurant. So how does a non-Jewish Mexican-Japanese guy cook Kosher? We decided to find out -- here are the tools Tanabe needs to make it all work.
5. A flashlight
"All greens served in a kosher restaurant must be meticulously washed and inspected -- so carefully and thoroughly, in fact, that we're practically inspecting each individual green for any insects, bugs, or foreign objects that are not kosher. Since we use organic vegetables in which the farmers have used no chemicals for pest control, the flashlight becomes a vital tool in our kitchen."
4. Liquid Nitrogen
"Kosher dining prohibits dairy, but liquid nitro provides the sensation of dairy for dairy-free desserts and ice creams."
3. Wine Glasses
"Eggs must be meticulously inspected, one at a time. The most effective means of doing so is to crack them into a wine glass for intensive visual inspection. For catering jobs, this can easily become an all-day job for multiple employees."
2. Liquid Smoke
"The liquid smoke at MexiKosher is homemade and used extensively in order to simulate the taste of bacon, which is strictly prohibited in all kosher dining. Since it's vegetarian, it allows us to combine fish and meat flavor profiles, which is normally prohibited under kosher law. In fact, our most popular night every week is Monday dinner, when we offer a limited supply our famous bacon cheeseburgers."
1. A Rabbi
"I am not kosher, or Jewish. Therefore a kosher inspector, formally known as a mashgiach must be on the premises during all working hours. In fact, only the mashgiach is allowed to have the keys to my restaurant. It's an enormous expense for a small restaurant that a normal restaurant would never have to absorb, but it's the only way that I can own or operate any kosher dining establishment."
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