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‘Modern Nomad’

From fire pit to fine beach dining

Cooking Seaside



The joy of primitive outdoor cooking

Hirano Surf Beach, with its surfer-friendly waves, was our nomadic dining destination for the day. Nao Mikami began setting up a spot by the big rocks on the sandy shore. In primitive outdoor cooking, this means creating an impromptu kitchen. Dig holes in the sand, line them with stones, arrange pieces of driftwood into an arch, and voila! Three fire pits. An assortment of fresh ingredients was ready and waiting to be cooked. What delicious dishes did Nao plan to make with them?

“I’m planning an entire menu around the fish Bun-chan caught. The yellowtail, I will fillet. I want to tie one half with a Welsh onion for grilling over the fire. And I want to marinate the other half with citrus fruit. The spiny red gurnard, I will simmer with vegetables, herbs, and chicken bones to make a broth, and then use that to make a paella. And the lizardfish, I will grind it and mix it with chopped green garlic and cull carrots to make some mini Hamburg steaks.”

Outdoor cooking makes a photogenic scene. The yellowtail and Welsh onion were strung from the driftwood arch to look like a koinobori carp streamer. This was turned over and over, and grilled slowly at some distance from the fire. The soup was simmered in a Dutch oven, which was also hung from a pothook attached to the arch. Potatoes were boiled in seawater over another fire pit, their tenderness checked from time to time, logs added to the fire, and Nao idly keeping watch. Cooking like this relies on a keen kit of senses. There is a balance between tension and pleasure that is never present when cooking on a gas stove.

Grilled yellowtail and Welsh onion, seasoned with olive oil and salt.

When the broth was ready, it was time to make the paella. Again, the rule was to cook slowly at a distance from the fire. In the meantime, Nao whipped up the side dishes. The boiled potato and spinach were dressed with vinegar and topped with seared dried whole sardine. The fresh yellowtail was marinated in Benimadoka and Konatsu citruses, and seasoned with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and salt. The lizardfish Hamburg steaks were cooked and garnished with fried fresh eggs. And finally, the steamed paella was sprinkled with carrot leaves and a generous squeeze of Konatsu citrus.

“With outdoor cooking, everything is part of the meal, including the air,” says Nao. The sky, the sun, the sea, and the beach—all of these blissful elements were intertwined with our memory of this day’s meal.

lizardfish Hamburg steak and fried egg that uses cage-free eggs from Ichiyen Farm.
Making a broth with the spiny red gurnard, vegetables, herbs and chicken bones.
Spiny red gurnard paella is made with chicken bone broth using Tosa Jiro chicken from Ichiyen Farm, vegetables from Nakazato Nature Farm, and Mihara-mai brand rice.
In this issue we live as ‘modern nomads’ hunting and gathering our own food. And then setting up camp both Seaside and Mountainside to cook up our daily catch to a scrumptious perfection. Our two women guest for this issue are fishing professional Bun Chan (Ayana Ishikawa) and ‘traveling chef’ Nao Mikami.
text | Yukiko Soda photography | Natsumi Kinugasa