Gyoza & Nanban Zuke Class in August, 2017

It was a mid-summer day and we are all sweating but sizzling hot Gyoza on grill pan tasted good as ever! 

I welcomed a newly engaged couple and a foodie mother & daughter, both pairs from Australia.

They all worked hard at my kitchen and prepared 2 main dishes at this class, Gyoza and Nanban Zuke of swordfish.  These menus require a lot of fine chopping of vegetables but the team was quite experienced cookers so we had no problem at all. 

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The most part of the menu for this class were actually requested from another guest, a young lady who has taken my class back in May this year. She liked Nanban Zuke and our side dishes so much that she recommended the same menu to her family visiting her in Tokyo. 

Some guidebooks say Tokyo is too hot and humid so not a good place to visit in August.  But for foodie travelers, cooking class is always fun and we are always ready to welcome you with something seasonal. 

I hope my Aussie guests liked Japanese style cooking experience at my place.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

Chicken Karaage & Gyoza class with Melbourne & NY couples

I welcomed 2 couples at this class and both happened to be newly engaged, one of them had got engaged just the day before coming to my class, on top of Mt.Fuji, enjoying the panoramic view of sun rise up there! 

So the class was full of happy feeling from the start and lots of fun talks. The only incident was that  I was too busy chatting to take photos of what we prepared but believe me, they were yummy!

The menus include; pork Gyoza, chicken Karaage (deep-fried with potato starch), Bok Choy style stir fried Komatsuna green. No miso soup for this class as it was a boiling hot summer day. 

My happy guests liked Gyoza and chicken very much. To make Karaage, we marinade chicken pieces in a bag of soy sauce etc. Don’t forget to put some garlic and ginger. You may prepare this a day before if you have time. 

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While wrapping Gyoza, I was asked many questions about our culture and life. Some are not necessarily related to food and very interesting, such as “Why are there no garbage bins on streets nor stations?”, “Do you really eat KFC for Christmas gathering?” etc.  

I simply give my answers on each topic. It may not be accurate, but I suppose it is a good chance to get to know the Real Housewives of Tokyo!? 

I hope they enjoyed their time at my kitchen.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

Sushi rolls class with foodie sisters / July 2017

It was early July but quite hot and humid on this day. I welcomed sisters from Canada who chose to prepare Sushi rolls and a few side dishes.   

Our summer is so muggy that you will understand the reasons why Japanese cooking uses lots of vinegar.  Even though I love freshly cooked plain white rice, July and August are probably not the best month to taste it, just because it is so muggy.  

Sushi rice is seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar and a little salt. It tastes good even after cooled down, so ideal as food for our summer season.

We also made a side dish for summer, thinly sliced cucumbers & chicken tender, seasoned with white sesame sauce. The toasty flavor of sesame and chilled cucumber are nice and refreshing on hot day.

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At this class, one of my guests had already taken another Sushi making class after arriving Tokyo and she surprised me with beautiful sushi rolls! She also left some interesting comments on Japanese seasonings at tasting, such as ‘taste of plum’ for red Miso, ‘fudge’ for sweet and savory white Miso sauce for eggplants. 

All these expressions are important to describe our food and I am learning a lot from my guests at each class. 

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

Vegetarian & Pork Gyoza & Miso Aubergine class / July 2017

Gyoza, Japanese style dumplings are becoming one of the most popular main dishes these days. It is fun to make, yummy to taste!  If you have several guests who have different dietary requirement, you can simply prepare different types of fillings.  Some with pork, some with vegetables, which is what I did at this class. 

I welcomed 4 girls from Ireland and USA on this day and 2 were vegetarians, so we prepared 2 types; pork Gyoza & mushrooms and tofu Gyoza. Both Gyoza also had vegetables like cabbage and same seasonings.  

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Once wrapped, they all look exactly the same so just be careful when you cook them to remember which is which. 

My guests also liked our side dish with eggplant.  In Japanese, eggplant is called ‘Nasu’, a simple short spelling but some Europeans call it ‘aubergine’, sounds more like a French dish with complicated technique but this is another easy and yummy home cooking menu.  

The Miso sauce for this menu is sweet and savory. It is hard to explain the taste so you must come and try yourself!

I also learned one new thing about Irish culture from my guests, Leprechaun. Another long spelling but I am a fan of Harry Potter so this was easy to remember. I hope this little man will bring a lot of happiness and good luck to my guest girls from west and east of Japan.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

Ramen without Dashi broth, still yummy! /June 2017

At this class, one of the guest preferred not to use any seafood. I usually make Dashi stock and pork /chicken stock for making Ramen soup. As you may have heard, Dashi stock  is the backbone for Japanese culinary but it uses smoked bonito fish flakes etc., thus not recommended if you do not like seafood.  But don’t worry, Ramen without Dashi turned out absolutely gorgeous with other seasonings. 

In fact, there are many recipes of Ramen around Japan and the variety just keeps growing all the time.  There are not a few bloggers in Japan who enjoy Ramen shop-hopping and report on each Ramen they tasted.

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Talking about blogs, another guest lady was a food blogger and her page was full of yummy photos. It was a pity I cannot read Spanish or Italian, the language she is writing, but all the photos are really mouth-watering. 

Her lovely daughter was also joining my cooking class. As a youngest participant, she was naturally appointed to hand-mixing of sticky Gyoza fillings, the most tiring part of Gyoza making but she has completed her mission very well.

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The whole family were such foodies that the father, a very skilled vegetable chopper, explained to me some interesting stories about Italian Ravioli making. It was a fun class with lots of food information exchange!

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I hope they enjoyed their time at my kitchen.  Many thanks for coming,

 

Akiko

Seafood Ramen & Gyoza class / June 2017

I received an inquiry for Ramen & Gyoza cooking class from a guest whose fiancee does not eat any meat. She preferred seafood and there were also other participants who liked regular ramen and gyoza with pork, so we prepared 2 types of soup, toppings and fillings at this class. 

I used clams for ramen soup, shrimps & scallops for Gyoza fillings instead of pork. The rest of the recipe is almost the same as regular ones.  If you are a seafood lover, this ‘marinara’ version of Ramen & Gyoza are also very delicious so please try! 

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The only concern was that everybody would be a little busier than usual with more tasks for each, yet all participants were very good at chopping vegetables and measuring seasonings etc.  Two little girls accompanying their Mum also helped us a lot, mixing 2 types of Gyoza fillings using their lovely little hands. IMG_5907

 

I hope my guests liked their food and cooking experience at my kitchen.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

Love to cook, love Dragon Ball /June 2017

I welcomed a solo traveller from Florida, USA.  He looked like a professional basketball player (and he does play at uni team) but he was also keen to cook some Japanese home dishes.

There was no other partipants on this day unfortunatelly and we need maximum 2 persons to open a group lesson, but he was so keen that he didn’t mind taking a private class on his own.

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The menu was; a lot of Gyoza, a lot of sushi rolls, eggplant with sweet miso sauce and  a bowl of miso soup of course. He really surprised me with 2 things; first his  big appetite, then his T shirt.

He was the first guest I ever had who prepared a special outfit for this occasion of Japanese cooking class. It was a bright orange T shirt with the lette of 亀(Kame, a turtle) on it.  He was a great fan of the Japanese comic book story “Dragon Ball” since he was a little boy. He told me he bought it at Don QuiJote store in Tokyo.

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Once food are all done and we were ready to eat, he changed into his Dragon Ball T shirt and smiled for my photo! Good job, mate.

Thank you for a big smile and thank you for choosing us!

Akiko

 

Big lunch again with Mum & daughter from Singapore / June 2017

Sometimes I receive a very specific request on menus to cook at classes.

For this class in May, my guest, who turns out be a super woman (business executive & mother of 2 kids) from Singapore, asked me if we can try Oyako-don, Gyoza, Chicken teriyaki, Miso dengaku with eggplant and Japanese style potato salad.

That is a lot for one meal and the combination is not exactly what we normally do, but I understand it is a good chance to try different dishes for a visitor when time is limited. Obviously the lady has tried many Japanese dishes already so I was interested to hear her opinions on our food, too.

She visited me with her lovely young daughter who was a great help in the kitchen! She can slice and cut and stir with no problem.

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Among the menus my guest chose, I was curious to ask why she picked up a potato salad, as is a rather western menu to me.  She was after a Japanese style potato salad in particular, which her family tried before and became her son’s favorite.

What I think ‘very Japanese’ and what my guests like to learn at Japanese home cooking class may not be always the same. It is very interesting to discover what people are attracted in our food culture.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

Swordfish Nanbanzuke class with lots of vegetables/ May 2017

Today’s guest was a couple from France visiting various plasces in Japan.

The lady turned out to be on the early stage of her pregnancy.  As a mother of 3 kids, I was really excited to hear that and thought maybe some of the food & nutrition we cook will be becomimg a part of her little baby’s body, who knows!

What we parepared on this class was; Swordfish Nanban Zuke, eggplant with sweet miso sauce, spinach with sesame sauce and miso soup with cabbage and potatoes. Lots of vegetables dishes using naturally fermented  seasonings like Miso, Mirin and Soy sauce.

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Since she was not feeling for a very strong taste, we decided to use less amount of rice vinegar and soy sauce for Nanban Zuke marinade. It is one of the good things about hands-on cooking experience. You can taste your sauce and dishes as we proceed and are always welcome to adjust some parts of the recipe.

Her husband was a keen cook and he was quite knowlegeble about Japanese ingredients, which helped a lot.

I hope they enjoyed their time at my kitchen and their baby was enjoying his/her first Japanese food,too!

Many thaks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

 

 

Ramen & Gyoza cooking with Aussie & French couples / May 2017

By late May, weather in Japan would get quite humid, with our rainy season approaching. Yet we still received quite a few inquiries for hot noodle dish with soup, Ramen.  Indeed it is surprising but I am well aware now that Ramen has truly become one of the most popular Japanese dish around the world. 

On this class, I welcomed two young couples from Australia and France.  I put my air conditioner on so it is cool enough in the room to enjoy hot foods.

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Besides Ramen, we prepared Gyoza, Japanese style pot stickers or dumplings. This dish is also originated from Chinese culinary but we pan-fry them with a lid, instead of boil or steam. When cooked, we dip them in soy sauce and vinegar. If you like it hot and spicy, maybe add a few drips of Chinese hot chili oil which we call La-Yu. 

At my family, whenever eating Gyoza for dinner, we cook them on the table. There is a popular kitchen item called ‘hot plate’, which is actually a big and flat electric frying pan.  

The beauty of using this on the table is;

1) it saves a lot of time for cooking,

2) everyone can enjoy eating Gyoza while it is sizzling hot.

The only problem is your room might be full of Gyoza smell afterwards. If the weather permits, have your windows open, or put your kitchen fan switched on. 

Gyoza is often chosen as a menu for family and close friends casual gathering. It is also fun to warp them together, while chatting various things, as we did on this class!

In Japan, Gyoza wrappers are available at any supermarkets so we don’t make them from scratch. I am not sure about the situation overseas but hope my guests can find them with no problem at their home towns. 

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko