Masaharu Morimoto's Favorite Ingredient Is Surprisingly Simple

Masaharu Morimoto opened his first restaurant two decades ago and has shown no sign of slowing down. His numerous restaurants worldwide have gained plenty of support and admiration from hungry gourmets looking for the perfect fusion of East meets West. However, prior to his success with his own restaurants, Morimoto starred on both the Japanese and American versions of the television show "Iron Chef." These productions require constant innovation and ingenuity, in order to use a secret ingredient in the most impressive and delicious way possible. 

You might think that a talented chef who has won 17 "Iron Chef" battles (via Iron Chef) would favor elaborate ingredients over ordinary foods, but this isn't the case with Morimoto. When asked by Food Network what three ingredients he would bring to a deserted island, the famed chef responded "rice, soy sauce, and sake to drink." This answer exemplifies Morimoto's desire for simplicity and quality, regardless of the complexity that many of his culinary creations have taken on. He tells Haute Living that rice can easily shine as the center of a dish, as long as it is of high quality and cooked to perfection. Cooking time and temperature are details that Morimoto pays close attention to when preparing rice daily in his restaurant (via Haute Living). Another part of having the best possible rice to use for his dishes entails polishing it onsite.

Morimoto learned to perfect the art of cooking rice

In case you're the average person who buys rice and cooks it without stopping to think about how you could possibly polish it, FoodsGuy describes that the process removes the husk, bran, and germ surrounding each grain. A lot of the rice sold has been partly polished, but this step reduces the moisture, which is why Morimoto prefers to wait until the last minute. 

Morimoto's restaurants certainly showcase some of the best sushi in the world, and a huge component of the dish is well-cooked, quality rice. In his book "Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking," the chef shares his beginnings working in a sushi restaurant in Hiroshima (via Publicism). He describes how his dreams of assisting with the fish preparation were delayed four years as he learned to perfect the art of cooking rice. Besides being the humble star in sushi, Umami-Insider notes that rice is a fundamental component of a Japanese meal. In his book, Morimoto explains that the word gohan means rice and meal in Japanese, highlighting the importance of the grain as a basis of nourishment.

To the Western palate, a simple bowl of white rice might seem bland, but Morimoto describes how the majority of Japanese food finds its ideal balance when served alongside rice (via Publicism). Salty, savory, fatty combinations would be overwhelmed if served with equally flavorful sides, so plain white rice makes a desirable base to display these flavors. Sounds like a perfect match!