Sakamoto Masayuki’s “One Dish”: Masayuki’s Inside

“One Dish” is a regular segment on “Non-Stop,” airing weekly on Fuji TV, in which Sakamoto Masayuki (V6) goes to a different district (usually in the Tokyo metro area) to sample food and purchase a certain ingredient for a simple recipe. The following is the interview from Sakamoto Masayuki’s “One Dish”, a collection of recipes from the show.

The reason I love food

The food I made as an elementary schooler was about 90% bad

My parents own a greengrocery. Both my parents were always busy working, so when I’d come home from school and ask, “is there food?”, they’d answer, “there’s some in the kettle, isn’t there?” Then I’d be all “are you serious, it’s just rice!” (laughs). So that’s probably the reason I began cooking.

I started off making ojiya.1 That’s probably a lot of I made from elementary to high school. Putting miso on rice… I really started from making a really boring, normal ojiya. At the time, I made a lot of different things, but I feel like they were about 90% bad (laughs).

Mom’s home cooking was “tomato and egg soup”

When I thought that I wanted to start properly making food, it was when I started living on my own some years later. I’d ask my mom for recipes for the foods I wanted to eat.

The first thing I made was “tomato and egg soup.” I’d think “man, I wanna eat that,” and call her, and it was so incredibly easy. Even though it’s “mom’s home cooking” (laughs). To make the tomato soup, you mince the tomatoes, and in onions, and add that to water and consomme, and then you add in a scrambled egg and on top of that, squeeze a lemon. Everyone in V6 has eaten it, too, so it’s memorable for me.

I treat people to “boiled righteye flounder”

I just normally started making food a lot. Even though people would say “I’m so busy, though,” whenever you want, you can eat the foods with the flavours you want, and it’s a piece of cake. It also doesn’t cost much (laughs).

But, some years later, I sort of got to be a fanatic about making certain foods; pretty much just nabe (laughs).

We’d been working on a play for about a month straight, and of course our diets got all out of whack. That day, my co-stars and I went to a chanko restaurant and I realized “this is all it takes, just these ingredients?” The preparation and cooking was a cinch, too. So from then on, it turned into the era of me making nabe by myself. People would ask, “isn’t that kinda lonely?” but it totally isn’t (laughs).

I cook food in the dressing room, too. When we’re doing two shows a day — afternoon and evening — I’ll make stuff like boiled righteye flounder. After a performance, I’ll go buy the fish at the supermarket. I’ll have prepared all the other ingredients beforehand, and I’ll cook it all in a rice cooker. It’s incredibly easy to boil the fish, so I feel really satisfied. The people around me will say, “oh, that smells so good!” I make sure to make enough for everyone.

The food I’m into now

I’ve been making soumen Okinawan stir fry a lot. I went to this really delicious Okinawan restaurant, and I got really into making it after that. I’ll go to an Okinawan grocery store and get ingredients. And after that, I wrap chicken breast meat in ham and cheese, coat it and deep-fry it; it’s a cordon bleu. I just recently learned it’s called “cordon bleu” (laughs).

You never carry your recipe notebook?!

Before, I’d always carry my notebook with me whenever I’d go out, so when I found something good, I’d be able to write it down. But when I’d switch bags, I’d forget it. So now, I leave my recipe notebook at home, and when I’m out and there’s something I’m interested in, I’ll write a note to myself. Like, when I’m at a restaurant, or when I’m watching TV, so I want to fill it delicious things I want to try making.

Making food reminds me of making plan models. So I realized that’s why I like it

Making the food is my goal

I’ve loved putting together plan models since back in the day, so since I thought, “oh, this reminds me of making plan models,” I’ve come to like cooking and think of it like that. I generally like cutting and gluing the parts together. When I was watching TV to learn how to be a TV chef, I saw a newbie chef dip a wet towel and salt into a frying pan, and I was like “I wanna do that, too!” Yeah, they used salt; what the hell?! (laughs)

More than just wanting to eat good food, I want to try making good food, and I channel that curiosity for wanting to make things into making food. I like the me who’s like a pro chef … or something (laughs).

So I don’t take pictures of my food. When I make the food, that’s when I feel satisfied. Probably for most people, tasting the food and how it tastes is the goal, but for me, it’s before that. Making the food is my goal.

Fixated on his tools

What I’m most interested in is a wooden basket for steaming food. It’s really small but you use it to make dim sum. There are things I want, but I haven’t bought much lately, I don’t think. I wore out a frying pan, so I’ve been thinking I have to go buy a new one. I really want a wok or small pot or something like that. For making oyakodon2 or katsudon, something like a small pot would be easier to use than some other dedicated type of pot.

More than cooking, I like cookware. See, that’s my plan model senses again (laughs). I use my boat3 when I make hand-rolled sushi, and I probably have about … 5 nabe pots? I’ve got regular nabe pots and edible ones, and then I’ve collected other ones that I got interested and bought, like a square nabe pot. And also a huge oden pot like you’d see in a restaurant (laughs).

My philosophy is that the same goes for cooking: it’s never interesting without that little something extra. When a friend calls me, I get so excited as though I were opening a restaurant. I should probably try hanging one of those wooden “open” signs up at my house or something.

If I were to make food for someone I liked, it’d probably be lunch

If I were to make food for someone I liked

I’d probably make them lunch rather than dinner … Well, that’s what I’m better at making. I of course want to make them whatever they say they want to eat. It’s such a pain when they say “anything is fine.” And then, no matter what I make, they complain (laughs).

But I do get pretty into stuff. I’m sort of extreme (laughs). I think like, “what sort of courses should I make?” and that sort of thing. Should I do soup first, or appetizers? … but even if I don’t have that sort of power, I can be pretty outrageous, so I’d probably honestly just go with lunch.

What I’d want the person I like to make for me

Now that, that I worry about. I like Japanese food, so probably that. But, if they were to line up the foods I like for me on my dining room table, it’d probably turn brown (laughs). I like cooking, so having someone treat me … is hard, and I get that, so I don’t think I’d ask them to.

Even if they make food for me and it doesn’t match up with what I like, I still won’t say “this isn’t good.” If we were making it together and then eating together, you can get the taste, right? So I would say, “this is sort of bland” or “wanna try adding some salt” And then after we ate, “I think you should add a little more next time.” Without being limited by the taste, my ideal is to have a relationship where you can be empathetic no matter what.

My last meal was rice with ponzu!

I’m way too obsessed with ponzu (laughs). I put it on shabu-shabu meat, and then putting that on top of rice — it’s a one-hopper4. And then if you put a little of the ponzu on the rice, it’s so friggin delicious. Sprinkling on the ponzu gives the rice a lot of impact. People often ask me “is that all you put on it?” and so that’s why it was my last meal (laughs).

I love rice, so I love a simple onigiri with just salt. When I have my friends over for a party, that’s the last thing I’ll put out. I’ll see how things are going and throw some rice in the nabe pot and cook it up. It’s gotten quite a reputation!

Getting my first regular cooking show, “One Dish”

“One Dish,” begun in 2012!

When I first heard about starting the show, I was just full of questions. Why me? When everyone thinks of food when it comes to V6, they think of Nagano. But when I asked, he’s more eating, I’m more cooking. So when they said that, I was like “oh, right,” and I thought I’d try doing it.

Actually starting the show, I was so nervous during the first episode. Just feeling like “aaaaah.” Neither the staff nor I really knew how the show was going to proceed, so I was fumbling around a lot. I don’t want to rewatch it. I don’t want to go back to how I was back then (laughs).

My skill with cooking now…

I’ve had to make a lot of different foods, and I’ve probably made over 100 by now, so I’d like to think that, as you’d expect, I’ve gotten better (laughs). More than that, I think I’ve become more serious when it comes to cooking. And it’s fine if I’m not perfect, or if I can’t do it exactly like the cookbook. I can give myself some leeway. That’s huge.

Compiling as yet unknown stories that left an impression

When I’m making okonomiyaki or an omelette, I don’t know if it’ll flip well or not, so it’s like I’ve got one shot, and that’s pretty neat. Everyone’s paying attention, and it’s like “if I mess this up, what will happen?” But I haven’t yet. I’m really good on camera, so I must be a star, right? (laughs)

But I have messed up before. When I was preparing horse mackerel, for some reaason I had to stick my knife into a weird place. So the day before, I bought some and practiced at my house but I still couldn’t get it. So when I stuck my knife in when we were filming, the staff froze, and my mind just went blank. I thought they must be screwing with me; I’d tried so hard up until that point (laughs). But as I expected, we had to redo it, and they yelled out “sorry, let’s do it again!”

My suggestion for how to get everyone interested in cooking

On “One Dish,” we only have simple food. For me, when there’s a lot of seasonings or steps involved, I’ll lose interest and just go “screw it, I can’t make this!” So, I think I only want to make things that I think I could make.

Things I want to try doing now

I want to make an original pizza, and also go out on a boat and go deep sea fishing — catch the fish, prep it, and then cook it. I love manila clams, so I want to try clamming, too. While I’m sharpening my cooking skills, it would be good if I could gain a deeper interest in the ingredients.

. notes .
01. Rice gruel with veggies and fish, seasoned with miso and soy sauce
02. Chicken and half-cooked egg over rice. Super delicious. Great for when you’re sick
03. 舟盛り (funamori), boat wrap sushi. He showed it off on “Meringue no Kimochi” (the one with Koyama) and talked about it on “Arashi ni Shiyagare” at the Leader nomikai. It’s literally a boat that you put food on.
04. A one-hopper is a baseball term for when someone hits you a grounder and you catch it after one bounce.

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