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Minimalist cooking style preserves veggies’ taste

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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa washed greens just harvested Thursday from the fields of MA‘O Organic Farms. He later offered tips on using the greens.

"Anything’s possible with fresh ingredients," said chef Nobu Matsuhisa. "With these kinds of farms, anything’s possible."

"These kinds of farms" refers to MA’O Organic Farms, which Matsuhisa visited Thursday to check out crops, cook and introduce his friend, Kyoto superstar chef Yasuhiro Sasajima. Sasajima was in town to present an omakase menu with Matsuhisa at Nobu Waikiki.

On Thursday, the duo whipped up quick culinary delights in MA’O’s outdoor kitchen using farm produce. Dishes included poke-topped donburi, various eggplant offerings and fresh crudites served with a heavenly pureed kalua pig and anchovy dip.

Matsuhisa took a break from the kitchen to share tips for cooking farm-fresh greens, advice particularly useful to those who support local growers by purchasing weekly produce subscription boxes.

The subscriptions guarantee fresh, local fruits, herbs and veggies; the challenge is that customers don’t choose what they’re going to get. Farmers pack what’s available.

How many ways can one cook kale? How versatile can you get with rosemary? What else can you do with lemon and lime besides lemon chicken or limeade?

Matsuhisa’s suggestions were simpler than you’d imagine, and they centered on the virtues of freshness.

His first: "I like to serve vegetables fresh. Make dressing with lemon juice, sea salt, pepper and olive oil — delicious!"

Meat and veggie combos? There are no hard or fast rules, he said. "You can use any combination."

But the bottom line is to respect the freshness.

"Minimal, simple cooking is best for fresh vegetables — too much cooking will kill the natural flavors," he said.

 

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