Knives & Needles: Horitaka from State of Grace Tattoo

molly-profile-knives-and-needlesBy Molly Kitamura
This is a blog that I started because I have a passion for food and a love for tattoos. I am a professional sushi chef of over 13 years and have worked all over the world for more than a decade. Over my travels working in various kitchens, I always noticed how many chefs are tattooed. Not only tattooed, but many heavily tattooed. I myself am pretty heavily tattooed. Not to get too deep but this has always interested me and I think that chefs and tattooers have similar personality types; artistic, transient punks who are traditionally the lowlifes of society working in a thankless profession. Tattooing and the chef profession have both seen a 180 to their popularity and reputation in recent years with TV shows and celebrity stars being formed in this modern-day atmosphere. I want to give all those tattooed chefs the chance talk about something other than food and give foodie tattooers a chance to talk about something other than their work with this blog! My friend Brynne Palmer, a tattoo artist at Gold Rush Tattoo, is a contributing writer as well as myself. And there may be others in the future! My friend Eric Alegria is helping with this blog as well! Thank you for reading this blog and follow us! There will be interesting interviews with your favorite chefs and tattooers, amazing recipes, cooking tips and beautiful photos of food and tattoos being shared here, don’t miss out!

Horitaka is not only one of the most prolific tattoo artists in the world today, but he also happens to be my husband. That’s 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 his food, not his 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. It’s 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; 1 onion large dice, 1 onion very small dice or minced

2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch round pieces (Taki detests carrots 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 by Molly Kitamura and John DSR Agcaoili courtesy of Horitaka of State of Grace.

Molly can be found at Knives and Needles: 

Instagram: @knivesandneedles

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