Teriyaki Chicken Class on April 10th.

One of the characteristics of Japanese cooking is that we use a lot of sugar even for savory dishes,  including Teriyaki sauce for chicken. 

To make a good Teriyaki sauce, Mirin plays an important role. This is actually a kind of Sake, with alcohol content of nearly 14%.  Mirin used to be drunk for certain ceremonial occasions but today mostly used as a seasoning.   

Mirin’s sweetness comes from a natural aging of Mochi rice, some over 60 days, others over 1 ~ 3 years. Like balsamic vinegar or cheese, taste is more complex when aged longer and price higher. Its sugar content is as high as 47%.

Mochi rice would get saccharized when mixed with the Koji (rice malt) mold. Mochi Rice is often used for sticky dumplings. It is rich in a special kind of starche (amylopectin)  that helps to produce more delicate sweetness.

Sometimes you may find a cheap alternative named ‘ Mirin-taste’ seasoning etc. At many cases they are using Sake or other alcohol with added sugar. They are not properly matured so its sweetness is nothing like Mirin’s. I would rather use Sake & sugar instead of such unkown sweet something. 

For cooking Teriyaki chicken, simply grill your piece of chicken and when the skin is crispy enough, add Mirin, soy sauce, sugar etc. Make sure your sauce is  nicely caramelized.

This sauce goes really nicely with steamed rice, too. Sometimes my kids love to eat just rice and Teriyaki sauce, leaving their chickens!  That is no good for nutrition so I will be cross with them, but I understand why they do thatIMG_5633. 

I hope my guest from UK also enjoyed their Teriyaki chicken and rice.

Many thanks for coming!

 Akiko

Ramen class in Cherry blossoms season, April 7th.

During the cherry blossoms season, we at the Musubi Cooking Tokyo receive much more customers than winter months. On this April 7th . class for Ramen cooking, I welcomed 3 groups of people from Sweden, Israel and Swiss.  

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For one of the ramen toppings, we cooked minced pork meat flavored with Miso and vegetables. You may add finely chopped ginger, leek, garlic, carrot or coriander as you like. This was a good accent to add to ramen as Miso is probably the most popular Japanese seasoning among my guests.

When you hear Miso, I wonder what type of miso you are thinking in your mind. Miso is a very old seasoning made with fermented soy beans. It was already used before century in China. In Japan, the oldest record of Miso is found in the writings of 8th.C and it has been used in cooking till today. There are many variety of Miso throughout Japan. We will let you taste some of them at our classes so find out your favorite one! 

All of my guests were talking about how gorgeous cherry blossoms were on this day, as they were in time for the full bloom. One of the questions I received was, do we eat cherry blossoms. Well we actually do!  We use salted leaves for wrapping sweet dumplings. We also salt pink flowers of cherry trees and make preserves. This salted cherry flowers look pretty but the taste is.. quite salty! You may also notice a faint touch of cherry blossoms fragrance.

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I happened to have a small jar of this salted cherry blossoms in my fridge so I let my curious guests taste some of this, expecting not much Wows. Yet I got a very interesting idea from my Swedish guest that it will make a great companion for a shot of rum and other hard liquors. Looks much prettier than salt, too! 

It is always so inspiring to cook and chat with food lovers from around the world!

Many thanks for coming to my kitchen. 

Akiko

Time for spring vegetables! Tempura class on March 16th.

Spring has come !  It means fresh and yummy spring vegetables only available at this time of the year and of course we won’t miss this opportunity at our cooking classes. One of my favorite is what we call ‘new onion’-very fresh onions harvested during March and April.

On this class of Tempura, I welcomed a university student son studying at Munich and his father from Wellington, NZ. They were flying into Japan from different corners of the world and somehow ended up at my kitchen.

They were here for skiing but they were also just in time for the new onion season and of course we cooked it as Tempura along with other vegetables and prawns.

What is the difference? Onions are available throughout a year but they are the ones dried for about a month after harvest for the sake of better storage. But only in spring months, fresh onions are available for reasonable prices. They arrive right after the harvest so the surface of the skins are not completely dried like regular ones.  We call them ‘Shin(new) Tamanegi(onion)’ in Japanese.

Shin Tamanegi contains much more moisture than regular ones and its taste is so sweet, not tangy or pungent at all. It is not good for stews or simmering dishes but it makes great fresh salad, and great Tempura,too!

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My guest said his Tempura of new onion was so yummy that he will forget about all freid onions he ever tasted before!  If you are an onion lover, please consider visiting Japan during March and April next year.

We have so much to offer other than Cherry Blossoms!

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Many Thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maguro steak with teriyaki sauce on March 13th Class.

I have received a request from a German couple visiting Tokyo that they would like to try Japanese Maguro (tuna) cooked as a steak. They also wrote that they are interested to see how to prepare Teriyaki sauce. So the menu was decided to be Maguro steak with Teriyaki sauce for their cooking class. 

My son and daughters all love to eat Maguro but we mostly eat it as Sashimi, so our Maguro is always rare, or more precisely un-cooked. Therefore, to me,  Maguro is naturally something to be tasted as rare as possible and even as a steak, it was to be done very rare or medium rare, with bright rose pink colour inside.  If it is cooked well-done, then it would taste like canned tuna, which is not really something for guests travelling all the way from Europe to Japan! 

For Teriyaki sauce, I usually use Sake, Mirin, soy sauce and sugar. This sweet & savory sauce is well known for chicken. But as a companion for Maguro, a little bit of Wasabi paste may also be good as it helps to reduce the fishiness. Of course Sashimi quality Maguro is never really fishy (at least for us Japanese) but just in case, as some of my guests are not used to eating lots of seafood.

 Before serving, we sliced Maguro steak like a modest sized roast beef so its nice rosy meat is visible on the plate. Then we chopped some green onions and sprinkled them on top of our Maguro.

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The couple said they do not eat much seafood at home but finished all of their very rare Maguro steak. It is always my pleasure to see empty plates at the end of the class! 

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

Tempura Class with MBA youngsters on March 10th.

Tempura is one of my family’s favorite menus for gathering. Depending on the season, a variety of ingredients changes but the common ones I eat often are eggplants, Kabocha pumpkins, mushrooms like Shiitake and Maitake, Onions, Carrots, Okura(Gambo), Shiso leaves and prawns.

It may be similar to fish & chips or fritto, fritter, or beignet. I think the difference exists in what ingredients are used for batter. The best Tempura should be crispy outside and juicy inside. Ingredients must be fully covered with batter but as thinly as possible. If the batter is too rich and thick, Tempura will be too filling and you cannot eat much.

There are some tips to cook tasty Tempura. One of which is to chill the batter in the fridge before you start frying or simply use a chilled water for your batter. If you use a soda water, Tempura will be very crispy and I like that.

And of course, we use Dashi for Tempura, too! Dashi is a soup stock we make with Konbu seaweed and smoked Bonito fish. It is used in the savory sauce you dip your Tempura. Sometimes grated Daikon radish and ginger can be also put in this sauce. Daikon has a nutrition that helps to digest food well, so when you eat a lot of fried food, it can be a good companion.

My favorite way to eat Tempura is with lemon and salt, especially for Maitake mushrooms this is definitely the way to try!  Some gourmet people prepare Matcha green tea or Yuzu lime flavored salt and that is elegant for entertainig. You must come to Tokyo and find out your favorite way to enjoy Tempura!

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On March 10th, I welcomed a group of MBA students from east-coast USA for Tempura class.  Some of them had very interesting information about Indian cookery so I wished I could have them talk more about Indian food instead of me showing how to prepare Tempura but we ran out of time.  I hope they liked our food too and enjoyed their time at my kitchen as much as I did!

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

Roll Sushi Class on March 9th.

One of the best seafood dishes on earth is Sushi, at least, for me. It takes so many years of training to become a decent sushi master but thankfully there are alternative ways to enjoy sushi at family dinner or gathering with friends, that is, Roll Sushi.

Roll sushi is like sandwich.  You can roll anything except sand & witch!?  Well maybe.  But if you are visiting Japan, I think you should definitely try rolling our beautiful fatty tuna and salmon.

All you need to cook is some short grain rice.  Usually you put as much rice as water when you start boiling rice. But for sushi rice, water should be a little less than rice, as you are going to add some vinegar, salt and sugar later when it is cooked. 

For some stuff to roll, sashimi quality tuna(Maguro) or salmon, greens such as cucumbers, shiso leaves, spring onion or avocado. Avocado was never used in traditional Japanese sushi cooking before but it is changing. I honestly  respect the person who discovered the combination of raw tuna and avocado. It is just so delicious in roll sushi!

You  need a little bamboo mat to shape your roll sushi into a nice log figure. It may seem a little complicated process but once you start rolling, rice naturally sticks to each other and a sheet of black seaweed will cover up everything beautifully. 

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Here is my class of sushi rolls on March 9th . I welcomed 4 guests from USA. Some of them are already visiting Japan many times and some are 1st timers but ALL sushi rolled up perfectly. It was literally a hands-on experience (lots of rice on your fingers!) and tasted good, too, as you can see on their big smiles!

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Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

Swordfish Nanbanzuke class with a Foodie family from Sydney(Mar.8th. 2017)

The name ‘Nanban-zuke’ may sound unfamiliar but this is one of our popular seafood dishes. Nanban indicates that the dish has its origin from 16C Europe. Considering the history of Japan, ‘Europe’ in those days means Portugal and Spain at many cases.

I assume the process of deep frying and marinating afterwards with leek and other vegetables may be the ‘Nanban’ character. But this is a typical home cooking food for us today and it goes nicely with white rice or a glass of Sake!

I often use swordfish for Nanbanzuke. It is a white meat fish, tender like chicken breast but also is easier to handle, because you don’t need to pinch tiny bones.

First you deep fry the pieces of swordfish powdered with potato starch. Then marinate them in soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin etc. Lots of vegetables are also put in this marine sauce, such as carrot, celery, leek, spring onion etc. So it almost looks like a salad with fried fish.

You may be afraid that anything deep fried is not good for your health, but I think if you eat them with lots of vegetables, no need to be scared at all.

If you choose more vegetables for side dishes, such as spinach with sweet sesame sauce (another very popular dish at our classes), accompanied with Dashi soup of mushrooms & rice, your meal would be rich in fiber and quite nicely balanced.

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On this March 8th cooking class of Nanbanzuke, I welcomed a family from Sydney. Mama (means Mum in Japanese) is obviously a very good cook so everyone in the family loves to cook, too.  It was actually a lot of fun to exchange some interesting information on ingredients and cookery with this foodie family!

I hope they enjoyed their time at my kitchen as much as I did.

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

Ramen making experience at home kitchen (March 7)

Did you know ramen is not actually a very traditional menu for us Japanese? Yet it is so popular now throughout Japan. Each region and shops has its original recipe for soup, noodles and toppings.

It is originally from Chinese cookery so the base soup stock is often made with chicken. But the variety keeps growing. Kyushu region (southern island of Japan) is famous for its thick pork soup stock called ‘Ton-kotsu(i.e. pork bones)’ and now this is everybody’s favorite  even around Tokyo area.

Many shops like to add Japanese Dashi soup stock, too, as it brings more complex aroma with seafood ingredients. Or there is a shop famous for its Italian ramen in my neighbourhood, using tomato etc. But spaghetti has its origin in Chinese noodles so this makes sense.

At Musubi Cooking Tokyo, we also receive quite a few inquiries for ramen cooking and here I challenged to cook our home-made ramen with my 3 guest from Philipine and Brazil.

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I have prepared chicken & pork soup stock in advance, as it takes many hours to prepare, mostly simmering. At the class, we made Dashi soup stock with smoked bonito flakes and Niboshi (dried sardins), then mix with the other stocks.

Toppings for ramen could be anything but the most popular choice may be pork slices. Again, it takes a few hours simmering on low heat to prepare nice and melty smooth pork so I showed my guests how to prepare it until you come to the final process of simmering.

Once the ramen is ready, you really must start eating it right away, no bother talking or socializing with others at the table, because the ramen noodles get soggy very soon and that ruins the whole effort.  Slurping is just fine, as that is the only way to taste both noodle and soup together while everything is still hot!

Ramen is our comfort food and it made everybody feel much more relaxed and closer. We had a lot of fun talk after finishing our ramen bowls, even some secret stories how the couple met etc. I hope my guest enjoyed their time at my kitchen as much as I did. Thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

 

Feb 13th Dashi & Nanbanzuke class with sommelier

IMG_5207Today I welcomed a couple from USA, a lady who is a sommelier and her hus who has studied Japanese for 4 years at uni. I nearly had a heart attack when he suddenly started speaking to me in fluent Japanese!

Both are keen cooks so I learned a lot from them, too! This is a fun part of having cooking class with people from various parts of the world.

The main dish was: Sword fish Nanbanzuke. deep-fried white meat fish marinated in soy sauce and rice vinegar, fresh vegetables etc. This is my favorite. I should have asked my guest if there is any white wine that goes nicely with this dish.

We also worked hard to make good Dashi stock. The most tiring part may be shaving a smoked bonito into flakes with traditional wooden grater. This has a sharp blade on so you need to be careful when you use this item.

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For Dashi soup, I like putting Maitake mushrooms and Mitsuba, a Japanese herb similar to chervil. If you add some miso, it will make a good miso soup.

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Another good excercise was grinding sesame into rich and oily texture. All done by hands! A tip is to heat sesame for a short moment before start grinding.  I think they loved the aroma of sesame sauce. It matches well with spinach but also with various other food so you may think up your own recipe with your choice of local vegetables.

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I hope the couple had a good time at my kitchen!

Many thanks for coming!

Akiko

 

 

 

Jan 24th Japanese home cooking class

IMG_5158It was a chilly winter day in Tokyo but I had a lovely day with a beautiful young couple from Perth WA, Australia. They have already experienced quite a variety of Japanese cuisine. I was amazed to hear they even have a rice cooker at home and sometimes make their own sushi rolls!

At my class we made typical Japanese family cooking, kinds of dishes we enjoy eating normally. Lots of vegetables and mushrooms.
The menu was: Nanbanzuke of swordfish (deep-fried and marinated in Japanese vinegar and soy sauce with fresh vegetables), spinach with sesame sauce, eggplant with sweet miso sauce, and of course Dashi stock for soup.
Both did a great job, cutting vegetables perfectly thin and sesame grinded into a nice smooth texture. It was a delicious lunch and I hope the couple enjoyed the cooking experience and lunch as much as I did.
Thank you for coming !
Akiko