Chef Niki Nakayama and her sous chef Carole Iida are not bound by tradition. They’re married. And at their restaurant n/naka, they might be the only women in the world doing kaiseki. The formal 13-course Japanese meal is meticulously prepared with careful attention to ingredients and technique. n/naka even has its own vegetable and herb garden. Now Niki and Carole have big plans to push the envelope even further, through constructing a kaiseki meal with all California ingredients, many of them wild, foraged. Between now and when they unveil their locally-sourced kaiseki menu in August, I’ll content myself with Niki’s tuna poké recipe. Perfect for a Los Angeles summer.
Niki Nakayama’s Tuna Poké
Yield: Serves 2
Tuna Poké Ingredients
8 oz sashimi grade tuna, diced into cubes
¼ onion, thinly sliced
½ avocado, diced
1 tsp fresh ginger juice
Wakame seaweed—rehydrated and cut, as needed (optional)
Soy Sauce Dressing Ingredients
½ tbsps sesame oil
1 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tbsps freshly squeezed lime juice
For the wakame: Rehydrate the wakame in a bowl of cold water. Keep in mind that the seaweed will expand. Cut into bite-sized pieces no larger than tuna cubes.
For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, lemon and lime juices. Taste and adjust according to your preference.
For the poké: In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the tuna, onions, avocado and wakame. Pour the soy sauce dressing and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins.
Top: Chef Niki Nakayama hands forager Pascal Baudar a flower. (Photo by Abbie Fentress Swanson/KCRW)