Tokyo Cooks

Food & Drink - May 17th, 1985
John Schumacher

by Debbie Marcus

The very first time I met John Schumacher (“Shooey” to his friends, which includes practically everybody), he didn’t beat around the bush at all. He got into the subject of cooking straightaway, “Debbie, did you know that if you hold a toothpick in your mouth while peeling an onion you won’t cry?” Since then we’ve been friends through thick and thin — toothpick out or toothpick in!

How did John earn the of honor of being Tokyo’s veteran auctioneer? It all started in his younger days when he was an auctioneer in the livestock industry in Aus­tralia. He knew his livestock then — and he knows it even better now as the Director for North Asia for the Australian Meat and Livestock Corpora­tion (AMLC). He certainly knows his beef as Australia experts the largest quantity of beef into the Japanese market.

John is doing the same thing with Australian lamb. They’ve always exported frozen lamb to Japan, but now they’re bring­ing in “chilled” Australian lamb which is relatively new in the world with distinct advan­tages over frozen. The advan­tage of the “chilled” product is that it is fresh meat which is placed in a special plastic bag which, in turn, goes through a machine that evacuates the air from the bag. It is then scaled and a natural aging process begins. There is no oxygen to create a bacteria breakdown.

The “chilled” lamb is then kept at a plus 1-minus 1 zero degrees and held at that temperature until it reaches the stores. When it reaches the store the butcher opens the bag and cuts it into whatever cuts the customer wants. After that the customer should treat the lamb as you would fresh meat. It should he cooked within a few days or put in the freezer.

John has organized an Aus­tralian Chilled Lamb Festival which will be held the end of May. Minakami meat store in Azabu Juhan, plus other meat stores around Tokyo, will not only have all cuts of “chilled” lamb, but also the presence of two young bronzed Australian exchange butchers!

Developing recipes using Australian lamb is yet another of Shooey’s talents. He has hist printed a new brochure lowing how you can prepare lamb for Japanese and Chinese cuisine, such as lamb katsu, lamb tataki and lamb and green peppers. If you would like a copy of this brochure, call the AMLC office at 435-5785 and he will have one sent to you.

Australians aren’t the only people who love their lamb. In Middle Eastern countries lamb is the main staple in their diet and they attribute it to their good health. Even the Aussies know how to make this delicious


6 canned flat anchovy fillets
1 leg lamb approx. 1.75kg (3 1/24 lb)
Slivers of garlic
4 shallots, chopped finely
3 tsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 cups stock made with beef or chicken cubes
3 tsp tomato paste
6 medium-sized tomatoes
Black pepper
Chopped parsley

1. Soak the anchovy fillets in milk for 30 minutes to re­move excess saltiness. Make slits in flesh of lamb around bone, insert slivers of garlic in each. Drain anchovies, cut one into strips. Make more slits over lamb surface and insert a piece of anchovy in each.

2. Put lamb into a greased baking dish and roast in a moderate oven about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Meanwhile, gently fry the shallots in the butter until softened. Sprinkle flour into pan, stir for a minute or two and then slowly stir in the stock. Cook, stirring until boiling. Add tomato paste, stir well and simmer for 3 minutes.

3. About 10 minutes before cooking time is finished, halve the tomatoes, sprinkle black pepper over top of each. Chop the remaining anchovies, scatter over the tomatoes, put into dish with the meat.

4. Put meat on a warm platter with the tomatoes. Re­heat the sauce, pour into sauce boat and serve with the meat. Makes 6 servings.

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John maintains that the secret to cooking frozen leg of lamb is to defrost it in your refrigerator for 5 days before cooking it. This not only in­sures tenderness, but also it gives you 5 days to plan how you’re going to cook it.

If you have a bag, a micro­wave and a leg of lamb, you too can make John’s.


1 leg of lamb, about 2 kg
1/2 cup pureed canned peaches
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 small onion, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large oven bag
6 peach halves
1 Tbsp flour

Calculate total cooking time at  18 minutes per 500g. Mix peach puree with honey, lemon juice, soy, onion, garlic, spices and salt and pepper. Flour oven bag with 1 tablespoon flour and arrange in oven dish. Place leg in bag upside down and pour peach mixture over it. Tie bag loosely with string. Microwave 5 minutes on HIGH, reduce to MEDIUM 50% and cook for remainder of calculated cooking time, turning bag and Iamb carefully half way through cooking. Re­move lamb to a plate, cover with foil and leave to stand for 15 minutes. Drain liquid from bag into a bowl, skim off fat.

Place peach halves on a flat dish and brush with a little of the bag liquid. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Keep aside. Mix flour with a little cold water and stir into liquid. Microwave on HIGH for 3-4 minutes, stirring occa­sionally, until boiling and thickened. Place lamb on serv­ing platter with peach halves. Brush a little of the sauce over the lamb and serve remainder separately. Serves 6.

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Schumacher has to put up with a lot of beef in his job. He’s an authority on the sub­ject—the importing, exporting and the cooking of it. During the summer his barbecues arc legendary. One of the best beef satays I’ve ever tasted came from his grill.

I think it most appropriate to call it John’s

750g (1/2 lb) round steak
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cummin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 onion, sliced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Peanut sauce

1. Ask for slices from the rump end of the round. Cut steak into 2 cm (3/4 in) cubes. Combine spices, onion, brown sugar coconut milk and oil in a bowl, add meat cubes and stir to coat. Cover and leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours.

2. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in cold water for 2 hours. Thread meat on skewers, allowing 5-6 pieces for each skewer.

3. Cook on grill for 5-7 minutes, depending on taste. Season with salt. Serve with boiled rice and peanut sauce. Makes 4-6 servings.

PEANUT SAUCE — Gently fry 1 grated onion and 1 crushed clove of garlic in 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Add 3/4-cup crunchy peanut butter, 1/2-cup water and 1/2-cup coconut milk. Stir well to blend and then mix in 2 teaspoons brown
sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Add lemon juice to taste and thin down, if necessary, with coconut milk or water.

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About 20 years ago I arrived home from an auction with a dining table and seven chairs, a Chinese coolie lunch box (it seemed a good idea at the time) and a case of capers. The dining table and chairs and the lunch box have since disappeared, but unfortunately the capers are still on the scene.

What brought this to mind was Shooey’s beef fillet recipe which is a marvelous dish for this time of year. (It also has capers in it!)


1 butt fillet of beef, about 1 kg
425g can beef consomme
Freshly ground pepper
Capers, chives and black olives to garnish


45g can anchovy fillets
12 black olives, pitted
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp drained capers
1 tsp French mustard
1 Tbsp brandy
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4-cup olive oil

Trim silver skin and fat from beef. Tie at intervals with white string. Put consomme in a saucepan just large enough to take fillet and add an equal quantity of water and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, add fillet and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat so that liquid barely simmers, cover and simmer beef very gently for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, stand 5 minutes and remove fillet from liquid. Wrap in fail and leave until cool.

Prepare Tapenade. Slice beef thinly and arrange slices on a platter. Spoon Tapenade over and garnish with capers, chives and olives. Cover with food wrap and store in refrigerator if necessary, but bring to room temperature for serving. Serve with crusty bread and a salad made of crisp vegetables such as lettuce, green peppers, cel­ery, tiny radishes, spring onions, tomatoes and cucumber sticks. Serves 6-8.

Tapenade — Drain oil from anchovies and place anchovies in blender or food processor with remaining ingredients ex­cept olive oil. Blend until smooth and gradually pour in oil. Blend for a few seconds and use as directed.