They connect with him OG San: ‘authentic, old-school and esteemed.’ Bruce Miyahara has earned it.

AT AN AGE when many folks retire, Bruce Miyahara signed on as a prep cook when Mutsuko Soma opened her Japanese cafe, Kamonegi, in 2017. It was a surprising next act for a general public health and fitness skilled who experienced headed equally the King County Well being Office and the Washington Point out Office of Overall health. But Miyahara jumped at the possibility to perform with Soma, in aspect because it would allow him to examine his Japanese culinary heritage far more deeply than he’d at any time finished.  

Miyahara’s grandparents emigrated from Hiroshima. His dad and mom were being born in the United States. As a boy or girl in the 1950s, he would listen to them inform stories of their “camp” times. They manufactured it audio like entertaining. It wasn’t until eventually third or fourth grade that he figured out the true story. A trainer overheard him and a team of other Japanese little ones speaking about their parents’ camp ordeals. She seized the moment to question regardless of whether they actually recognized what transpired there.

“She shifted our point of view,” Miyahara claims.

Like a great deal of folks again then, he says, “We tried out not to be much too Japanese.” His mom cooked from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. They ate a large amount of hamburger meat and casseroles at house. There was generally rice. “That’s what manufactured every little thing kind of Japanese.” He chosen his mother’s cooking to the Americanized teriyaki, sukiyaki and tempura they would get in Japanese dining places. On the times when his grandfather took care of him, lunch would be Spam, pickles and very hot canines cooked in soy sauce — foodstuff that deliver nostalgia for lots of Japanese Us citizens.

Miyahara met Soma when she demonstrated the artwork of soba-building at a person of Tom Douglas’ annual culinary summertime camps. People boozy, weeklong, star-chef-studded events ended up a precursor to Douglas’ Scorching Stove Culture cooking college. Miyahara’s wife, Dana Spencer, inspired him to attend, and afterwards joined him. The couple was aspect of a group that returned every single calendar year and turned, Douglas says, “a very little food club” that socialized collectively commonly till the pandemic.

“Bruce was like the Captain of Summer months Camp,” recalls Amy Richardson of Tom Douglas Places to eat. “He would exhibit up at 8:30 a.m. completely ready for a shot of Maker’s Mark and a entire working day of class.” For Douglas’ 60th birthday, the team arranged a party at Palace Ballroom. Each and every created a dish figured out at camp. Rather of a cake, they caught birthday candles in stacks of Dick’s burgers.

“Tom and summer camp acquired me imagining about flavors and procedures,” suggests Miyahara. He was impressed to blend flavors in approaches he’d in no way considered of right before and was extra curious about Japanese food stuff. Urged by Douglas and his small business husband or wife Eric Tanaka, Miyahara participated in “Work Release,” pop-up dinners at The Carlile Place, the place sous cooks and line cooks had been invited to cook regardless of what they desired for a evening. He collaborated on a formal Japanese kaiseki menu motivated by the thought of “reverse-yoshoku.” (Yoshoku refers to Western-motivated Japanese foodstuff.)

When Soma advised him she was opening a restaurant, he requested regardless of whether he could assistance. He worked the daytime prep shift since it’s considerably less hectic than night company, and he nervous about generating errors at his age. “This is really a young person’s sport,” says the man who goes by the Instagram cope with @older_than_i_5.

Miyahara estimates he has built about 40,000 duck meatballs at Kamonegi. He helps make Spam, too, and he smokes salmon and repairs whatever is damaged. He rode the bus to get the job done for the reason that he preferred the full expertise. “It’s offered me total regard for anyone in this business.”

In 2019, when Soma and her business partner, Russell King, opened the sake bar Hannyatou, a couple of doorways down from Kamonegi, Miyahara assisted with the remodeling, applied himself to the research of sake and labored assistance. He also was a buffer between the two temperamentally disparate proprietors. Soma is a lot more like Person Fieri, he suggests King is additional like Thomas Keller.

King offered his fascination in Hannyatou when he relocated to New Mexico very last year for household causes. Miyahara is now a section operator. He’s acquired the sobriquet OG San. It suggests authentic, old-college and esteemed. In May well, Soma paid tribute to him with a exclusive “Bruce-motivated menu” of shoyu very hot puppies, hen liver mousse with Spam, and pickles. Proceeds went to the Global Group Health Providers Basis. Miyahara was the organization’s initially director in 1973, when it was a one-place storefront in the Chinatown International District. There are 11 clinics in the better Seattle region that present interpretation in 50 distinct languages.

Is Hannyatou Miyahara’s 3rd act? He turns 70 in November. He’s pleased that the cozy corner izakaya, with its secluded, wisteria-rimmed patio, has come to be an sector haunt, mainly because he likes “hanging out with the children.” 1 factor is sure: He has not stopped discovering or cooking.

Koji is between his latest obsessions. When he fulfilled Soma, she previously was deep into making use of this transformational ingredient for pickling and miso. A type of mould (aspergillus oryzae) propagated on rice or other grain, koji is applied to make soy sauce, miso and sake. It provides enzymes that break down starches, proteins and fats. Used as a marinade, it is effective magic with meats.

Miyahara claims it is straightforward to make your possess shio (salt) or shoyu (soy sauce) koji at household. Shopping for koji rice is the simplest way. Expanding the mildew yourself, which he is finding out to do, is significantly much more complicated. Chilly Mountain is a popular brand name of koji rice offered at lots of Asian groceries or on the internet. I located it at Central Current market, the place you also can invest in premade shio koji, if you are in a hurry.

Shio Koji
Koji rice
Distilled water
Sea salt or kosher salt

1. Incorporate equal pieces, by fat, of koji and water in a Mason jar or deli container.
2. Insert salt, equal to 10% of whole drinking water and koji pounds. (Note: You can use a variety of 5% to 15%. You will locate you need to have to use fewer extra salt when cooking with koji.)
3. Blend until eventually salt is dissolved, go over and shop at area temperature (70ºF).
4. Stir each day. It is completely ready to use in 7 to 10 times. It will acquire on a marginally sweet aroma. You can use an immersion blender at this point to turn it into a paste instead than leaving the rice grains total. Refrigerate.

Shio Koji Pan-Seared Pork Chops
1. Coat each side of a thick-reduce pork chop with 1 tablespoon of shio koji, and location in a plastic bag or lined container right away.
2. When ready to cook dinner, wipe off excessive shio koji. Lightly oil a pan. Sear the chops on all sides, then go pan to a 250º-300º F oven for 15 to 20 minutes (dependent on the thickness of the chop).
3. Take away pork chops at an internal temp of 138º F. Rest a few minutes in advance of serving.
Be aware: The Maillard effect (browning) will come about far more rapidly for the reason that of sugars and changes in the protein designed by the koji, so keep an eye on it.

Shoyu Koji
1. Blend equivalent quantities by body weight of shoyu (soy sauce) and koji rice in a Mason jar or deli container.
2. Retail outlet at room temperature. Stir day by day.
3. It is prepared to use in 7-10 times. Use an immersion blender at this position to generate a paste, or use it as is. Refrigerate.

Sous Vide Shoyu Koji Chuck Roast
Chuck roast
Shoyu koji
Clean ginger
Purple pepper flakes

1. Set immersion circulator to 138º F.
2. Area chuck roast in a Ziploc or vacuum-sealed bag. Incorporate 2 tablespoons shoyu koji per pound of chuck roast, plus 3 coins of ginger and a healthful pinch of red pepper flakes. Take away air, and seal. Briefly massage to coat the chuck roast.
3. Location in the circulator for 18 to 24 hrs.
4. Take out from the bag. Help save and lessen the juices. Briefly pan sear or grill the chuck roast to give it some coloration. Slice, and provide with minimized sauce.