Deco- style Sushi Rolls with Singaporean artist couple, Nov. 2017

This late November class was a bit tough one for me, as I received a request for a special Sushi Roll.

It was the beginning of winter season when everybody would start thinking about Christmas and new year holiday, so my young guest from Singapore suggested me if we could challenge to make a sushi rolls with Xmas tree or snow man patterns!

I have never tried Xmas tree nor Snow man sushi, but I knew one very pretty pattern called ‘star’, with an egg-roll inside. No fresh seafood inside so a little disappointing if you are a Sashimi lover, but her husband does not eat Sashimi so in this case, it worked out even better.

So the menu for this class was fixed as follows;

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Deco Sushi Rolls ‘Star’

Chicken Nanban (sweet and sour, Japanese fusion style deep-fried chicken)

Spinach with sesame sauce

White Miso soup with potato & cabbage

At the kitchen, my guest was very patient and she never got tired until we finally made everything successfully, including home-made egg roll and sweet & sour Nanban sauce ! Her husband also liked the taste of chicken Nanban and the sauce for it, made with mayo, fresh chopped onion & boiled egg.

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Deco Sushi Rolls with star was a time-consuming recipe and it takes a lot of hand works, then you would end up eating a lot of rice, colored and seasoned with a few different ingredients, but it really had an appealing look. Truly ideal for your gathering tables.

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After a few weeks, I heard from my guest that she had made Deco Sushi Rolls back in Singapore! It was such a huge joy to hear and she even created her own design this time, I would call it a plum flower maybe. Here is her photo!

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Isn’t it just gorgeous!  I was so happy to hear that her guests also loved this Maki(Rolls).

Many thanks for coming and your photo!

Akiko

 

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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

 

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

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

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