Food & Drinks

Sachie’s kitchen secrets: ‘food brings us together’

The celebrated chef says her son is already a good cook
Sachie Nomura in the kitchen

After Sachie Nomura finished filming the first season of her hugely successful cooking show Sachie’s Kitchen, she decided to take some time off to focus on having a child with her husband Nick Siu.

What she didn’t realise was that her journey to parenthood would take eight gruelling rounds of IVF before she conceived her much-loved son Zach, now six.

“I had so much fun filming season one,” says Sachie. “I took the crew members to my hometown in Japan and we had an incredible time really celebrating Japanese cuisine. The reason it’s taken so long to film season two of Sachie’s Kitchen is because I wanted to focus on creating our family first and it took 10 years to get one child!”

Now that Zach is a bit older, the talented chef felt the time was right for a second series.

“Zach’s seven soon, so I can explain that Mummy’s going to be away filming and he can understand. New Zealand is my second home – I’ve been here for more than 20 years and I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase what Aotearoa has got. There’s amazing ingredients, fabulous food, and a lot of stories to tell Kiwis and the rest of the world.”

Waitoa chicken farmer, Ibrahem Break, with Sachie, holding a Waitoa free range chicken
Getting a bird’s eye view of farming from Ibrahem.

It was during filming that Sachie was introduced to Waitoa, who are partners of Sachie’s Kitchen.

“Through the show, I visited a Waitoa Free Range Chicken Farm and they showed me how they raise the chickens,” she tells.

“I saw all of the chickens sunbathing outdoors in this huge backyard. I witnessed how Ibrahem [Break, a farmer]looked after them. Not many people get to do that – it was just phenomenal.”
As a chef, it’s crucial for Sachie to know where her ingredients come from.

“Chicken is one of the main sources of protein in my household,” she shares. “It’s so important for me to know how the animal was raised. If they’ve been looked after with care and love, that transforms the outcome. The flavours are different. The dish is infused with love.”

Sachie developed her skills in the kitchen very early.

“I had no choice,” she laughs. “Both of my parents were full-time workers and I have a younger brother. Mum didn’t come home from work until about seven and we’d get hungry. So I’d do all prepping in the kitchen so that it was quicker when Mum got home.”

What she loves most about cooking is how it brings people together.

“What I enjoy is what food does. Every time we sit down around the table, we turn off all the gadgets, so no TV and no phone calls. I enjoy the conversation and the laughs.”

Sachie and son Zach are hooked on fishing.

Unsurprisingly, Zach is already a dab hand in the kitchen.

“I’ve been training him since he was three,” Sachie tells. “He loves helping – so do my nieces and nephews. It’s fun to teach kids. Sure, they make a mess, but so what? When they cook, they eat more because they’re proud of themselves.”

Zach is in charge of making soup each week for the family.

“We make 12 litres of vegetable soup every weekend in a pressure cooker,” she tells. “It’s got legumes and all different kinds of vegetables. Zach does the whole lot. He even does the dishes.”

Sachie says her boy’s not a fussy eater but is discerning.

“He knows what he likes,” she laughs. “He’s not keen on sandwiches. He has a Japanese lunchbox every morning. Usually, it’s fried rice with veges and prawns or karaage chicken with seaweed. It’s quite time-consuming, but the lunchbox comes back empty, which is the main thing!”

Sachie’s Spicy Waitoa Free Range Chicken Burger with Daikon Pickles

Sachie’s Spicy Waitoa Free Range Chicken Burger with Daikon Pickles

MAKES 8 BUNS

  • 800g-1kg Waitoa Free Range chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Oil for deep-frying
  • 8 bao buns, frozen (or you can use The Fresh Grower Crunchita lettuce cups)

Chicken Coating

  • 100g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper

Korean Spicy Sauce

  • 3 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 100g white sugar

Daikon Pickles

(make 24 hours in advance)

  • 1 daikon (500g), peeled, sliced very thin using a mandoline
  • 350ml water
  • 350ml rice vinegar
  • 250g white sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 20 black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves

To Garnish

  • The Fresh Grower coriander
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sprouts

Method

  1. Mix all the coating ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix all the Korean spicy sauce ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a wok or deep-fryer to 180°C.
  4. Toss chicken in the coating mixture and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. Place chicken on paper towels to drain excess oil, then transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Pour Korean spicy sauce onto the deep-fried chicken, tossing well to coat.
  6. Steam frozen bao buns in a steamer (as per packet instructions) – this may take approximately 6-8 minutes to fully steam.
  7. To serve, fill bao buns with spicy chicken and coriander leaves. Enjoy!

For a low-carb option, serve spicy fried chicken in a Crunchita lettuce cup with Daikon pickles.

Tip

To Make Daikon Pickles

  1. Place peeled and sliced daikon in a clean, sterile jar.
  2. In a pot, add water, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, turmeric, peppercorns and bay leaves, bringing to a boil. Cook until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat.
  3. Once the liquid is cooled, pour the vinegar mixture over the sliced daikon until it is completely covered. Pickle in a refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

Sachie’s Kitchen season 2 is now streaming here.

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