Knives and Needles

Where Chefs can talk tattoos and Tattooers can talk food

Archive for the tag “japanese”

Sean Yanagi


Sean Yanagi is a talented chef who gets tattooed by my friend Jill Bonny aka Horiyuki of State of Grace Tattoo Studio. I met him the other day and we got talking about restaurants and cooking. So it was only natural to interview him for this blog!! Read on and find out Sean’s thoughts on food and tattoos! Cheers!

Molly: Tell me a bit about yourself, please include what you are doing now

Sean: My name is Sean Yanagi and currently a line cook. At an early age I’ve always been enriched in food and the culture through family and just a natural curiosity but never really started to cook myself besides a microwave and late night top ramen till my late 20’s. Unwittingly I found cooking as a new hobby, Since then I’ve been hooked. School was really never meant for me so I spent most my career in the bleak hole of retail. After a long and an impassionate day of work I’d come home to cook off works stress and found cooking calming and therapeutic. Cooking a satisfying meal would simmer away all the loathing I had in the day’s work of retail. I decided I wanted to cook as a profession and once I started I felt right at home, working with people that actually had passion for what they do and worked to at least their best abilities. These eccentric, oddball misfits was an environment of people I felt at ease with where I can speak my mind and keep it real no bullshit aside. “By the ticket, take the ride” so to speak


M: I always loved that about cooking, every kitchen is a motley crew! What is your favorite thing to cook?

S: My favorite thing to cook is anything low and slow to some good music, like cooking up some Gumbo to the sounds of Sidney Bechet or a nice Bolognese relaxing to some Pavarotti.

M: Woah, cool!  When did you get your first tattoo?

S: i got my first tattoo when i was 21, i wanted something i would not regret so i got my last name

M: Nice! Who do you admire in the tattoo industry?

S: The work that really caught my eye was from Jill Horiyuki Bonny. When looking for Japanese style tattooing I really appreciated her attention to detail, her work with color and classic style in her art. I also admire Takahiro Horitaka Kitamura, Luke Stewart for Japanese art and Jun Cha for black and grey all artist I’d like to get work from done.


M: Thos are all really great artists and people! Do you go to any convention, if so which ones?

S: None

M: Why do you think so many chefs are heavily tattooed?

S: I feel cooking and the art of tattooing come together well because each has its creativity, freedom, culture, history and boldness, all ingredients that on the  palate bind well together naturally.

M:  What is your next tattoo gona be?

S: I’m in the progress for getting a 3 quarter sleeve Japanese cherry Blossoms in the wind


M: What cooking magazines do you read?

S: Bon Appetit and Food and Wine

M: Love those! Do you own any tattoo magazines?

S: None


M: Any cooking advice for a novice?

S: Always prep ingredients ahead of time before you start cooking called “Mise en Place” you’ll find the cooking experience more enjoyable and learn more from it. Also use your instincts, if you feel something is not right change it remember its just cooking have some fun with it.

Sean gave us an amazing recipe for beef yakiniku! Yakiniku is grilled beef Korean style and its one of my personal favorites! Thank you Sean!!

*Sorry I measure my ingredients by eye  so if you don’t feel comfortable you can buy pre made Yakiniku sauce at the Japanese market


Yanagi’s Beef Yakiniku With Shishito Peppers

  • Flank Steak (or sliced Flat meat specifically for Yakiniku at the Japanese market) Preferred

Yakiniku Glaze and marinade

  • Japanese Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sake
  • Mirin
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Minced Ginger
  • Minced Garlic
  • Brown Sugar
  • Honey
  • Japanese Spices(Shichimi Togarashi)
  • Scallions
  • Hondashi
  • Black n White Sesame(for garnish)

1.               mix all ingredients and steak into zip locked bag and marinade for at least 4 hours

2.               mix another batch of Yakiniku sauce and cook to reduce in a sauce pot to make a nice glaze(add corn starch mixed with cold water if sauce hasn’t thicken enough)*make sure there are no m

lumps in corn starch mixture

3.               Grill beef to your liking.

4.               lay beef over a bed of Japanese rice and drizzle with Yakiniku Glaze then add a layer of sautéed Shishito Pepper and zest Yuzu on top

Sautéed Shishito Peppers

  • Shishito Peppers( Sliced)
  • Kumquat(Thinly sliced)
  • Oil
  • Yuzu zest
  • Ponzu sauce
  • Shichimi Togarashi
  • Scallions

1.     Heat oil in sauté pan on medium high heat, add peppers, scallions and Shichimi Togarashi spice when oil is hot.

2.     cook until peppers are slightly still crunchy to the bit

3.     add kumquat, yuzu and ponzu sauce to mix in and turn off heat and set aside


sean tokyo

Thank you Sean!!!!

Send us your tattoo photos or recipes, we want to feature you!




Horitaka of State of Grace


Tattoo Artist Horitaka


Horitaka is not only one of the most prolific tattoo artists in the world today, but he also happens to be my husband. Thats why it seems only natural to write my first blog on him!  Horitaka has been tattooing for over 15 years and is best known for his traditional Japanese tattoos. But in this format, we will be talking Horitaka and food, not tattoos.


I sat down with him for a few minutes today and we talked about some of his favorite dishes to cook. Now, being his wife, I know he does not have the time to cook much, but what he does cook is amazing!! His signature dish is Japanese curry and rice. Its Japanese comfort food at its best! Japanese curry is derived from Indian curry, but is typically not as spicy and is dark brown in color. You can make it from scratch using a combination of spices or you can buy prepared curry roux. Most people in Japan use the roux, but some restaurants make their own. Horitaka uses the roux as well, so today we will go over the recipe using the roux. You can add anything you want to the curry, from different vegetables to breaded and fried meats, seafood or tofu products. Horitaka loves panko breaded fried shrimp (ebi fry) with his curry so today’s recipe will feature just that!

P.s. This is a great food to make in bulk and freeze for later!!


Japanese Curry with Ebi Fry

makes 4-6 servings

For curry

1 box Japanese curry, cut the roux by shaving it into small pieces, they will melt better (any brand is good and you can get it at any Japanese market)

2 large yellow onions; i onion large dice, 1 onion very small dice or minced

2 large carrots, cut into 1/2inch round pieces (Taki detests carrot so he does not use them, but traditionally you should)

2-3 baking potatoes, medium dice

5c water

Sauté minced onions on medium-high in a stockpot until they turn transparent. Add the other vegetables and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 20-30 min or until the potatoes and carrots are cooked through. Add the shaved roux to the vegetables and water and make sure all the roux melts into the curry. Serve right away with pickled pearl onions or the dark red pickled ginger.


For rice

2c rice

1-1 1/4 c water

Wash the rice in running water until the water runs clear and strain the rice. Put the rice in the rice cooker with the water from the recipe and let it cook. Serve topped with the curry and shrimp.


Ebi Fry

12-16 shrimp, peeled except for tail and flattened out

1c four

3-4 eggs, lightly beaten

2-3c panko breadcrumbs

vegetable oil for frying, use more for deep-frying (about 3-4c)

If you are deep-frying, pour the oil in a deep sauce pot and heat up on medium-high. Keep a watch so the oil does not burn or start smoking. Peel headless shrimp but leave the tail on. Make 3 little horizontal shallow gashes in the shrimp on the belly side. Turn the shrimp over so the belly is on the cutting board and with a pinching motion moving from tip to tail, flatten out the shrimp, elongating the shrimp. The shrimp should end up twice as long as it was to begin with. In separate bowls; coat the shrimp with the flour, then the egg, lastly the panko. Make sure the panko is a firm and thick coating but be gentle as the shrimp can break apart if you are too rough. Check to see if the oil is hot enough by putting a pinch of flour and egg in the oil. If the flour/egg comes up to the surface right away, then the oil is hot. If not, turn up the heat for a few minutes and check again. Place the shrimp (a few at a time) in the oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the panko turns a nice golden color. Place the cook shrimp on a paper towel or frying rack to discard any excess oil. After all the shrimp are fried, place over the rice and curry and serve. Enjoy!!


Do not just pour the oil down the sink. Let it cool and you can put it in an old jar and store it in the freezer to save for the next time you want to fry. You can also dispose of it properly; cooled, jarred, and put in your normal trash or local recycling center.


photos done by me and John DSR Agcaoili courtesy of Horitaka of State of Grace

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