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

 

An Interview about Japanese food culture by Polish writers

I had an interview by book authors; Polish lady who is a Tokyo expats and a man who came from London.

This is the second time to come for the interview  following the last September.

She’s been researching Japanese food culture and food ways since she has started to live in Tokyo about 2 years ago.   She has already studied Japanese seasonal event and  festivals through hear experiences and readings.  Honestly it is embarrassing that she understands some of the cultural events and its origin better than me. wow!

She requested some recipes we, Japanese commonly eat in summer.    Then I offered “Hiyashi-chuka” , “mackerel in nanban marinade, Japanese style escabeche” “Eggplant nebeshigi“and  “Corn rice”.

Hiyashi-chuka means “Cold ramen noodle”.  I like this noodle dish during hot season rather than hot ramen noodle.  Most ramen shop, Chinese restaurant and some Japanese restaurant begin to offer this dish at this season with like those posters in front of the shop.

“Now we offer Hiyashi-chuka”  summer feature in Japan

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This dish consists of julienned cucumber, julienned chicken breast or ham, julienned omelets, tomato wedges and  chilled noodle with soy sauce based sesame flavored dressing.

If you like ramen, this noodle is worth to try during the season.  It is not easy to find this dish during fall to spring seasons since we don’t feel like willing to eat this noodle when those cold seasons though.

 

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We also cooked nanban-zuke ( Japanese style eschabeche) and Egg plant nabeshigi ( cook with miso sauce), and rice cook with fresh corn.

They liked those menus as Japanese summer flavor.

Thank you very much to add my recipe to your book.

 

Many thanks.

Kisshy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Potato cooking, German ways and Japanese ways / April 17th.

I have received a request for Teriyaki chicken again and this time from a German couple visiting Tokyo. As one of the side dishes I chose a Potato Mochi, as it is also finished with Teriyaki sauce so I figured out my guest may also like it. This is a local specialty from Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan known for its good potato harvest. 

At the cooking class, Potato Mochi recipe turns out to be very German by the way. Of course Germans are professional to cook potatoes and my guest showed me how she finds out if your potatoes are boiled enough or not ready yet.  

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First you hold your knife upside down, pointing to potatoes in the pot, then simply loosen your grip a bit and see if the knife cut into your potatoes or not!  I used to poke into my potatoes with chopsticks and make many holes but not any more! 

After adding some starch and making putties with boiled & mashed potatoes, my guest told me that Germans would boil them but we grill them on frying pan, then we finish up with sweet & savory teriyaki sauce. 

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I hope my guests liked our Hokkaido style potato dish, too.

Many thanks for coming! 

Akiko

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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

Vegetarian tempura class

We have Vegetarian tempura class today. The guests came  from the Michigan,  US and an expats who lives in Nagoya.

There are two sweet and cute young girls, tried to cook tempura and other dishes together.

Tempura seems not easy to fly as crispy.  People ask the questions how to cook proper way to cook.

I would say, tempura is common home cooking, so the preparation shouldn’t be so complicated. However I would say not expect as crispy as in the restaurant.

When I’ve lived in the U.S, I used to use all purpose flour and sparkling water for tempura batter. And I still use those ingredients when I cook at home.

I’ve been subscribing Japanese traditional cooking class every week and I’ve learned how to cook tempura in proper way.  The recipe in the cooking class contains flour, rice flour, egg and water. All the ingredients should be chilled enough.  The mixture shouldn’t be mixed too much, so mix them with chopsticks gently. and the consistency should be lumpy.

As a result, the tempura is thin battered and very crisp, and the vegetable has still moisture and very fresh texture.

It is absolutely fine recipe to skilled Japanese cook, but  the recipe doesn’t suit people who cook tempura fist time in my class. Sparkling water and flour make good batter for crispy enough tempura.

So I’ve kept teaching my easy recipe in the class. I heard some people tried my tempura recipe in their country and satisfied them. Believe me!

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The popular tempura in this season is spring onion kakiage. kakiage means mixed julienned vegetable fly. The onion contains moisture and has sweet flavor.  I usually add baby dried shrimp into tempura batter for non-vegetarian tempura, and people love it. I didn’t add shrimp at this time, but added julienned carrot. The guests liked the onion tempura.

Hope they enjoy cooking easy tempura for family!

 

Many thanks!

Kisshy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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