What's your favorite new ingredient?
I'm really digging those fresh Arizona dates. It's fun to have a fresh date; they're usually dried and imported. They're a great flexible salad ingredient; you can use them as a savory or sweet item.
What's the most versatile flavoring?
Horseradish or lemon zest. Horseradish is one of those perk-me-ups. You can use it in a cocktail sauce, you can bread fish with it—it loses its punch when cooked. It's a "What is that?" flavor. It adds depth of flavor to things. Lemon zest is a great replacement for salt because it adds flavor without being unnatural, and it's delicious and can literally go into anything.
What's the most underused flavoring?
Kasu paste, the fermented sediment from sake brewing tanks. Typically, it's strained to get the real odorous fermentation gunk out of it, and it ends up being a white chalky paste. I like it in its original form when it's brown and unstrained, and it has this luscious aroma. We cure black cod or salmon or chicken thighs with it, or we mix it with miso and mirin.