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

Private class with an experienced IT cooker /May 2017

Today’s customer had already taken a Japanese home cooking class several years ago and he liked it so much that he wanted to learn more. He was on his business trip to Tokyo so the schedule was a little difficult to sort out but we managed to make it happen! 

His request included mackerel with Miso sauce, eggplant with sweet miso sauce, and we made miso soup, too, along with a few other dishes.

Too much miso? No worries Miso is like cheese for Europeans. There are a great variety of Miso in different regions throughout Japan and even ingredients differ, some uses more rice, others add wheat, or only use salt and soy beans. Each family has its own favorite type of Miso I guess. 

Miso is salty but rich in nutrition and minerals, sich as vitamins, calcium, lactic acid bacteria, oligo saccharide, dietary fiber etc. which help to keep your digestion system in good condition. Some centuries ago, Miso was an important food to carry around for Samurai warriors on expedition, as it keeps for many months without freezing. And most of all, it is yummy! 

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My guest was such an experienced Japanese culinery cooker. He said at his home in UK, he cooks Oyako-Don, a chicken and egg on rice bowl frequently and  his girlfriend (non-Japanese by the way)  loves it, too.  How nice to hear that!

He works for a gigantic IT company so after all our dishes are completed, it was my turn to ask him a lot of questions about latest happenings in his industry.  

I hope he is now enjoying cooking some mackerel and eggplant with various Miso sauces for his loved ones.  Many thanks for coming! 

Akiko

Cooked a big lunch! Private Class on May 14th

I had an interesting inquiry from a young Australian couple living in Tokyo.

They were used to cooking with an oven back home, but here in Japan, we do not use it as often. Instead we use stove top and small, lined griller underneath it mainly. This young couple’s tentative house kitchen was not equipped with an oven and they were looking for an opportunity to learn some cooking with Japanese kitchen.

So here they are at my place and we made a big lunch together.

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 The menu includes; Swordfish Nanabanzuke with soy sauce vinegar and vegetables, Maguro (tuna) grilled medium rare with garlic Teriyaki sauce, eggplant with miso Dengaku sauce, spinach with sweet sesame sauce, crushed cucumber, Miso soup with clams and Mitsuba greens…

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Both of my guests were great seafood lovers and I was really happy to hear that they liked everything we cooked. They challenged to try black rice and liked it, too.

I also explained about our griller, which we mainly use for cooking salmon, mackerel and other fishes or chicken wings.

My guest told me she was using it for toasting a piece of bread in the morning!  Well it maybe a good idea but you need to watch your toast frequently to make sure not to burn it.

 I hope my guests are enjoying their life in Tokyo now and cooking at their Japanese kitchen.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

Vegetarian & seafood sushi class on May 8th.

I had my first vegetarian guest and her husband from UK on May 8th class, as well as another fun couple of sushi lovers from USA.  

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Japanese culinary is well known for using lots of vegetables and vegetable-oriented seasonings. Our cultural background with Buddhism has a lot to do with this. Buddhist monks do not eat any animal oriented food during their hard ascetic practices. Food provided at temples had to be vegetarian in many cases, so a variety of cooking methods with vegetables have been developed over centuries. 

One of the ‘must’ ingredients for our vegetarian cooking is dried Shiitake mushrooms, called Hoshi Shiitake in Japanese. Well, more precisely, you don’t need to be vegetarian to appreciate the taste of this dried ingredient. I often use this stock to simmer chicken etc. 

Like many other dried ingredients used for stocks, this needs to be soaked in water overnight before start cooking. 

If the room temperature is above 20, it is better to put the water and dried Shiitake in a fridge. It is said dried Shiitake extract comes out better when the water is around.10. If you are in a hurry, you may use hot water to extract dried mushroom quickly but the taste is always better when you use cold water and take some time. 

We cooked our miso soup with Shiitake and Kombu stock at this class. It was a season for sweet spring cabbage and tender new potatoes. They made perfect ingredients for fine vegetable soup stock. 

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For vegetarian sushi rolls ingredients, I picked up avocado, cucumber, Shiso leaves and some thinly sliced Takuan (salty pickled Daikon radish). 

I hope my guest enjoyed their food and cooking experience at my kitchen.

Many thanks for coming!

 Akiko

Sushi Rolling class on April 25th.

I have welcomed a beautiful lady from Singapore and her friend from Thailand on this day for Sushi Rolling experience. As is often the case with our classes, one of my guests turned out to be a very experienced and keen cook, while another had hardly ever done anything at kitchen!? so I was told.

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But they both did a great job and we successfully prepared Sushi rolls, Miso soup and 2 side dishes of spinach and eggplants.

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I prepared too much rice on this day so we ended up with a lot of rolls.

My guests said they were happy to get to see the smoked bonito before it was grated into thin flakes and packed. This is an ingredient indispensable for Japanese cooking, as it produces a good Dashi soup stock.  

A piece of smoked bonito looks like a wooden stick or branch.  Not a few of my guests think it is a Japanese traditional utensil for cooking, made with wood. So I let them feel it and smell it, then taste some freshly grated bonito flakes.  

My guest told me that it has an aroma like whisky and I was very impressed. Bonito fish does get smoked after steamed, so it has a nice smoky flavor and maybe that is something in common with whisky aged in smoked barrels. 

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

Flower bud as a spring delicacy on April 24th Tempura class

I welcomed a couple from Quebec, Canada and the lady turned out to be a professional working at the culinary institute. Her husband had lived in Tokyo for some years before and very knowledgeable about our food culture so I was quite nervous not to disappoint them with my cookings. 

Both of them were such lovely foodies, who really enjoy cooking. We were chatting and chatting about all kinds of foods and it was such a fun time!

They liked Tempura and my easy side dish of crushed cucumbers very much, while they told me that sweet egg roll omelet was a little strange taste for them, as French omelet is always savory. It is truly interesting to know what is appealing and what is not so.

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 For this Tempura occasion, I picked up our popular spring delicacy, called ‘Fuki no Tou’ as one of the ingredients for deep frying. I googled up the English translation of Fuki, which was ‘butterbur scape’ or Petasites japonicas.  Does it make sense?  Maybe it is not eaten much outside Japan.  Here is a photo of Fuki no Tou.

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Fuki is a kind of vegetable and it looks like Rhubarb but the taste is totally different. Only around spring time, buds of Fuki flowers are available and I like to eat them as Tempura. It has some bitterness along freshness, appreciated as a sign of early spring nutrition.

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My guests from Quebec liked Fuki no Tou, as well as prawns, eggplants, Shiso leaves, Okura, Kabocha pumpkins etc. I hope they enjoyed their cooking experience at my kitchen as much as I did.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

Simple, fun and easy side dish with cucumbers on April18th.Class

On this class of Sushi Rolls, I picked up one of the easiest and fun side dish recipes. That is what we call Crushed Cucumber salad.IMG_5685

 As the name tells, the recipe is quite simple. You salt your cucumbers, crush them with a wooden pestle ( which we use for pounding tossed sesame etc.). The tip is DO NOT use a knife when you cut cucumbers.

Why? Because when you cut them with a sharp knife, the cut end will be very smooth. But if you crush them or break them with a good pressure, the cut end will be rugged and uneven, so the seasonings are likely to stay on surface and taste better.

I use fragrant sesame oil and salt for seasonings.  Maybe add a little bit of leek, finely sliced or chopped fresh coriander if you like. Toss them all and keep in a fridge for some time and that is the end of the recipe.

When you are looking for some cooking experience for small children but you are not sure to let them use knives, this recipe is ideal. But I have noticed big boys also love the cruching process of this recipe!

So simple that I feel sorry to call this a ‘dish’  but it is my family’s favorite menu specially in summer time after a hot and humid day. You will find this menu at many Izakaya (Japanese style bars) yet never at a classy restaurants.

The only concern is that cucumbers in Japan are quite thin, while some kind of cucumbers overseas are much bigger and thicker.  On April 18th. I welcomed guests form Australia, Swiss and USA.  I am wondering if my guests were able to crush their local cucumbers after getting back home and tried this recipe.

 Many thanks for coming!

Akiko