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Omnivore that I am, I like to eat everything from everywhere. Years ago, teaching myself how to cook Japanese from books, I noticed that four ingredients—soy sauce, mirin, dashi stock and miso—kept reappearing in every recipe. I conceived a pet theory that the world’s cuisines are really only different flavours applied to familiar ingredients. Take any ordinary steak or salmon, say, or aubergine or cucumber, and add one or more of the above and it would come out Japanese. This was an enticing idea (easy! no foreign techniques, no need to buy a hibachi grill or to master sushi rolling!)…

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