Showcasing how this new carbon graphite cooking tool is shaking up the culinary world.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
Just when one starts to believe that Thailand’s robust F&B scene has seen every culinary innovation come and go, something like ANAORI kakugama comes along to shake up the industry. A Japanese brand stemming from a company with over half a century of expertise in carbon graphite technology, ANAORI recently launched a unique cooking tool that harnesses the material’s idiosyncratic properties, as well as the fundamentals of Japanese culinary principles, to create a minimalist yet versatile all-in-one product. Chef Dylan Jones, one half of the husband-and-wife duo behind one-Michelin-starred restaurant Bo.lan in Bangkok, called it a “one stop shop” to preparing a variety of intricate dishes, and praised the adaptability of its design, thermal shock resistance, electrical conductivity, and resistance to wear and tear, which allows for “frying and grilling to everything in between.”
To best showcase what the cookingware can offer to the culinary world, ANAORI kakugama has launched its international, six-month ‘Naturality Tour: From Soil to Dining,’ a project that involves 24 world-class chefs from Japan; the United States; Australia; and the food capitals of Asia, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore, and of course, Bangkok. At each stop of the tour, each of the chefs have been given an opportunity to put ANAORI kakugama to the test, developing new cooking techniques in the process.
On the 10th of September, Masala was invited to ANAORI kakugama’s exclusive launch in Thailand with a specially-curated menu by Chef Dylan Jones and wife Chef Duagnporn ‘Bo’ Songvisava, of Bo.lan fame. Although Bo.lan unfortunately closed its doors to the public in May of this year, the culinary power couple are still dishing up innovative takes on traditional Thai recipes, and they were especially pleased to welcome us to Bo.lan in a bid to showcase the ways that ANAORI had enhanced their menus.
The event began with an introduction from Chefs Bo and Dylan on their personal experience of ANAORI kakugama’s unique properties, from its rounded-bottom pot shape that ensures uniform heat distribution, to its all-natural hinoki Cypress lid which “locks in umami,” to its ability to emit five times the infrared as cast iron. “From the moment we received it we were blown away by its understated beauty…it’s become an indispensable tool in our kitchen at home and we enjoy incorporating it into the meals at Bo.lan,” Chef Dylan said.
Our ‘Tastemaker’ meal began with an amuse bouche that consisted of three separate, carefully-prepared morsels: Pineapple salad, a Salted fish crispy rice ball, and Thai black korat grilled beef. The pineapple salad, in particular, showcased ANAORI kakugama’s ability to enhance flavours – deliciously spiced, the sweetness of the pineapple cut through without being overpowering. The rice balls, despite its perfectly crisp crust on the outside, were still steaming on the inside, another testament to the cookingware’s ability to effectively cook food from the inside out.
The palate opener of Banana blossom from Pangmakluay was cooked by itself in ANAORI kakugama, retaining its delicate nutty flavour and flakey texture without being overcooked, due to the cookingware’s ability to retain heat despite being taken off the heat source – demonstrated to us live by the chefs.
Our mains continued the theme of elevated, heritage Thai dishes, with a Salad of bio-diversified green mangoes with Ao Phang Nga Banana prawns, which was fresh and herbaceous, with the dried prawns adding texture to a dish packed with spice; and a Roasted chilli relish served with local greens and braised fish sauce chicken, with the relish, which was roasted in the ANAORI kakugama, serving as the star of the show, its piquant punch complementing the simple preparation of the tender chicken.
We were served a Red curry of banana core with curry leaves next, which had just the ideal consistency – thick without being oily. As someone who considers a hot bowl of kaeng the perfect comfort food, this was one of my favourite dishes of the night, and it was surprisingly filling despite being plant-based. In my opinion, however, the dish that really highlighted the ANAORI kakugama’s abilities was the Stir-fried squid, pork liver and chicken gizzard with cumin leaves and young peppercorn, as the different proteins were cooked to perfection – the squid was neither too rubbery, nor was the chicken gizzard too tough, a difficulty when dealing with such a speciality. Finally, a light Chonburi-style soup of young watermelon refreshed our palates right before dessert, which consisted of Pattalung sago with smoked crunchy rice cake and ladyfinger bananas, a flavour profile that rounded out a meal that hit all the spice notes expected of an exceptional Thai spread.
“The ANAORI Kakugama was a real joy!” Chef Dylan told us, and after sampling what it had to offer, I’m inclined to agree.