Japanese-born Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto planned on becoming a baseball player. But luckily — at least for the food world — a shoulder injury sidelined those plans and he switched careers. Today, he oversees a family of restaurants around the world, including New York City’s Morimoto. While true to his Japanese roots, Morimoto’s cooking fuses the best of both Eastern and Western gastronomy, with results that are as delicious as they are innovative. Here, he answers the Healthy Eats Q & A.
What health food trend would you like to see go away?
Anything that is too extreme. For example, low-carb versus no-carb. If you go for a no-carb diet, you cannot eat even healthy dishes like sushi. So, if you eat everything in moderation, including carbs, you can enjoy your favorite dishes without overdoing it.
Chia seeds: Love them or leave them?
I have not tried Chia seeds before, so I don’t know if I love them or want to leave them!
What shortcuts do you use when you’re cooking?
Using the microwave! There are many high-tech microwave these days, and you can adjust the cooking time and temperature easily. My wife often microwaves sweet potatoes for our dog, and I like to eat them too!
What are your favorite healthy foods to keep on hand — and how do you prepare them?
Japanese foods, such as tofu, dried seaweed (wakame, kombu and nori) and root vegetables (daikon radish, carrot, burdock and sweet potato). To make sure I eat healthy, my wife prepares these ingredients in the traditional Japanese cooking style, such as nimono (a simmered dish), mushimono (a steamed dish), aemono (non-oil marinated salad) and yakimono (baked dish).
What trendy food is worth the hype?
In Japan, root vegetables are trendy. Root vegetables include burdock root, lotus root, carrot and celery root. We believe they keep our bodies warm, which we needed for this cold winter.
What food do you wish more people would try?
Japanese comfort food because it is simple and healthy.
What cooking skill is essential for healthy meals?
You don’t need a special skill for preparing healthy meals, but you do need to use fresh ingredients. Also, you may want to know the basic nutritional information about ingredients so that you can prepare each ingredient in the best way to keep their nutrients. Lastly, remember that even if you prepare healthy meals, you must moderate your intake because eating too much is still unhealthy!
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.