Passionate Japanese food lovers honeymooning from Israel, Oct 2017

Many of my guests are really passionate about Japanese food and it is always a great honor to get a chance to meet up with such people. This honeymoon couple  from Israel was definitely one of them.  They were fascinated to try a Japanese style vegetarian meal, including Tofu.

So the main dish was Sushi rolls with green vegetables, pickles and sesame. The couple chose a private lesson so we also did a few vegetable side dishes with three different sauces; sesame sauce, sweet miso sauce and creamy tofu sauce, as well as miso soup with vegetable stock.

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They were also very knowledgeable about Japanese history and interested in some antique plates and traditional  earthenwares, too.

One of my favorite Japanese earthenware is Oribe-yaki, old potteries in Gifu prefecture and known for its dark green colored glaze. I used my Oribe plates for our eggplant dish at this class and my guests kindly told me that they liked them  as well as various food we prepared together.

The next day, the couple surprised me with a news that they bought a rice cooker to take home after my class!

I hope they are now enjoying cooking Japanese food at their sweet home…

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

Seafood and Sashimi lovers from Germany, Oct 2017

Many of my German guests prefer meat dishes to seafood… that was my narrow perception until I welcomed this couple from Northern Germany.

In fact, the lady told me that she does not eat much sausages nor Sauerkraut but loves Sushi and Sashimi.  So the main dish for her and husband was Sushi rolls with fresh quality salmon and tuna of course!

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I have also suggested a few choices for side dishes and here again, she preferred vegetable and fruit dishes rather than meaty ones. It was mid Autumn and Kaki, persimmon was in season. So I really liked to introduce one side dish of Kaki, Shimeji mushroom and greens with creamy Tofu sauce.

But why Kaki is so special?

Today we have a great variety of fruits available at super market in Japan and many of them are domestic  harvest.  However, when you look back the history of Japan, most of our fruits were brought to our islands from overseas at some stage.

Yet Kaki is considered to be one of few indigenous species that have been around the land of Japan for years and years.

If you have a chance to travel around Japan in Autumn, you may notice the trees with almost no leaves but some ripe, orange fruits in gardens and even in some wild fields, that are Kaki trees and it is a loved symbol of Autumn for us.

It makes a nice salad, or simple dessert as it  is, or you may put a slice of prosciutto on top of a small cut of Kaki and serve as a starter.

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I hope my guests enjoyed their Autumn taste as well as our quality seafood!

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

Heard about Nuka-Zuke? -Private class on October 2017

Sometimes my experience with visiting guests reminds me of good old day’s memory with my grandmother, who was always busy in her kitchen.

Prior to this class in early October, I received a very interesting request from  a Canadian lady, who is keen to learn about fermented vegetables, if I can show her an active Nuka bed for Nuka-Zuke.

Nuka is the rice bran, looks and smells like wheat. After rice harvest, the bran is taken away from rice and we eat only the white core part of rice. But this rice bran can be used for fermented vegetables, or Japanese pickles, called Nuka-Zuke.

We add a little salt and some water to rice bran powder, which makes a perfect bed to culture lactic acid bacteria.  Once the condition is settled, you may add your favorite vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, radish etc.

The problem with this fermented pickles making is that you need to stir the Nuka bed at least once every day, or the good bacteria die out and bad ones become more active, in other words your vegetables would get rotten. My grandmother used to do all these works for her family and I enjoyed eating her beautiful works as a kid.

Yet it was so much work in modern days when you have a job outside your house, so my mother did not keep it going, nor did I, util I received this inquiry from my guest lady.

Suddenly I remembered what I used to be eating and wondered if I can do something. Thanks to our internet age, I found a Japanese pickles company who sells Nuka-bed for fridge!  You don’t need to take care of your Nuka every single day but once in a week with this product.

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So here we are at the class, with my Nuka-Zuke works of carrots and cucumbers, as well as mackerel with Miso sauce.  As is well known, Miso is  one of our traditional seasonings and it is made by fermenting steamed soy beans with salt.

I hope my guest liked my home made Nuka-Zuke.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

Vegetarian & pork Gyoza gathering with couples from Israel & USA

This was another Gyoza class but we prepared 2 kinds of fillings, one is our regular pork & vegetable Gyoza, then Vegetarian version with Tofu, mushrooms and vegetables.

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Tofu, or bean curd,  is widely known around the world but I have noticed Tofu available in other countries are not always the same as ours in Japan.  Not a few of my guest were surprised to see our Tofu and told me that their Tofu were harder in texture, not as fresh as the ones we normally get here.

Good fresh Tofu has an earthy flavour of soy beans. It is tasty as it is but also makes  a great substitute for pork meat when you prepare Gyoza fillings.  It  is also super easy to mix with other ingredients. Sometimes our Tofu is too fresh so just make sure to drain it a little before you use.

It was the beginning of Autumn in Tokyo, the perfect season to use mushrooms in home cooking!  We have a big variety of reasonable  mushrooms in Japan, such as Shiitake, Maitake, Enokidake, Shimeji, Hiratake etc.

Sun dried Shiitake mushrooms make a great soup broth, which is an ideal  substitute for our famous smoked bonito fish .  I use this dired Shiitake broth as Dashi for 100% vegetarian miso soup and it is very tasty, both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians!

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At the class, non-vegetarian guests also tried vegetarian Gyoza and they seemed to like it as well.

The only concern was if my guests could find the ready-made Gyoza wrappers at the supermarkets in their neighbourhood…. I am crossing my fingers that they did in Tel Aviv and Boston.

Many thanks for coming to my kitchen!

Akiko

 

Sushi roll class with couples from Ireland and Canada-September 2017

I received a request for Sushi Rolls from a Canadian couple, then another couple on honeymoon from Ireland joined our class.

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Since Sushi Rolls are widely eaten overseas now and all of my guest for this class seemed pretty accustomed to eating seafood, I wanted to try something different as Sushi fillings.  At the nearby supermarket I decided to pick up SUJIKO, along other regular ingredients such as tuna, salmon, cucumber, Shiso leaves etc.

Sujiko is salmon eggs, protected in thin membranes inside salmon mother’s belly. When salted as it is, we call it Sujiko. When membranes are removed and each eggs are separated like cavier, we call it Ikura.  Both are  scarlet in colour, full of rich oily taste,  and quite salty.

They are one of my favorite Sushi ingredients but I was not sure if my guests from overseas would like Sujiko or not.  Still I thought  its colour and taste gives a nice twist to Sushi rolls so I showed them my Sujiko.  I was very happy that my guests were all adventurous enough to accept my recommendation.  Actually some of them  have already tried them  before and found them just fine.  Small world !

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So I failed to surprise my guests but we all enjoyed our hand made Sushi rolls and other side dishes, including miso soup of course.

I hope my guests enjoyed their time at my kitchen,

Many thakns for coming!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramen & Gyoza class for a future food business owner -September 2017

This was a calss for a solo traveller from Australia who is willing to cook Ramen and Gyoza. At first I thought he is one of many Ramen & Gyoza lovers but as we talk preparing our lunch, I learned that he is already working at an Asian food business and hope to be independent some day.

In fact he is so serious that he took 3 cooking classes during his short stay in Tokyo! I was honored to be a little part of  these opportunities during his limited time in my country.

I love good food but never worked as a chef by the way, still I  hope he found his experience with Japanese Mum & home cooking at my kitchen worth his time & effort…

The way he mixed the chopped vegetables and minced pork meat for Gyoza filling was super!  It requires a good strong pressure so each separate ingredients become together.

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One thing he liked very much was our Japanese style eggs.  As one of the Ramen toppings, we often prepare flavoured boiled eggs. it is tasty as a topping for simple steamed rice, too.

For its flavour, I use soy sauce, Mirin and smoked bonito if my guest is OK with seafood. You need to keep it in a fridge for a few days so the eggs turn brown outside but inside is till bright yellow. They add a nice colour in a Ramen bowl.

I hope my guest had a good time and wish him the best of luck for his future in Asian food business, I am sure he will be very successful!

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

 

Pork Ramen & Gyoza class with TV crew! -September 2017

After my  summer vacation, this was the first class at my place and very memorable one indeed, as I hosted 2 fun  couples from NY and Paris.  We also received an inquiry from local TV in Tokyo that they wanted to film visitors coming from overseas for Gyoza making class!

I was very nervous but thanks to my cheerful & talented guests, everything went really nicely!

A young lady from Paris already had good skills for Gyoza making and her frills on Gyoza were just amazing! There were lots of Wow!s at her works during the class.

Another lady from NY is a professional voice actress so she’s got a beautiful & soothing voice,  and she was such a mood maker which helped a lot to make me feel confortable even with TV people with big camera etc.

TV  people asked many questions to my guest, such as “have you known Gyoza before coming to Tokyo?”,”why you wanted to try making Gyoza?”

I was curious to hear their answers and found out that there is a Gyoza bar in Paris now. In NY you often find Gyoza in Bento box with rice but these Gyoza are usually fried, not grilled.

My guests said that Japanese style Gyoza are crispy on the bottom, then the top part are tender, which is different form Chinese styles of steamed or boiled Gyoza.

I adore Chinese style dumplings and personally I think they are more authentic with a great variety, but requires much more skills & practices(at least to me…).  What I like about Japanese style Gyoza is simple; it is so easy to make, ingredients are very reasonable, and fun to eat with your families and friends!

By the way we made delicious pork Ramen,too! Here are some photos. Sorry Gyoza are almost gone at this stage but you must come and find yourself!

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Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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