One of our (hubby and I) favourite cuisine is Japanese food and we'll dine at Japanese restaurant at least once a month. Used to make sushi at home many years ago, but these days, I guess it's more convenient to dine at restaurants like Sushi Tei where reasonable quality sushi and sashima are served. Nevertheless, hubby always laments the fact that sashimi and sushi taste the nicest in Japan itself (but of course); and that the sushi served in restaurants here has more rice than fish/seafood whereas the ones in Japan are opposite. Oh, we miss Japan! I digress.
Anyways, since I'm cooking almost daily now, I'm running out of ideas what to cook. Quite hesitant to go into Jap cuisine as I think a lot of preparation is required given that Japanese people are well known for their meticulous style and presentation.
Still, I signed up for the Japanese Home Cooking 2 Demo Class conducted by Guest Chef Aki Watanabe at Shermay's Cooking School over the weekend. I guess since it's home style cooking, should be quite manageable. And yes indeed, Chef Aki made the recipes really comprehensive and went through the explanation and preparation in detail so that even newbies to Jap cooking are able to follow easily :) In fact, I went to buy the key ingredients the next day and raring to try the recipes soon!
6 recipes are demo-ed during the 3.5hr class.
1) Dashi fish stock - soup stock for many Jap dishes
2) Seafood, Salmon & Tofu Gratin with Miso Cream Sauce (Tofu to seafood no miso cream guratan)
3) Simmered Chicken & Boiled Eggs in Sweet Sour Sauce (Toriniku to yudetamago no amasuppa ni)
4) Simmered Chinese Cabbage (Hakusai to aburaage no nibitashi)
5) Plum Liquor Jelly (Umesyu kan)
6) Tofu Cheesecake (Tofu no cheesecake)
No photos taken for the Dashi fish stock. Key ingredients are just water, Kombu kelp and Katsuobushi bonito flakes. Very simple steps but need to be meticulous in preparation to achieve best resullts. This soup stock is the essential base for many dishes. Chef Aki stressed to us not to buy those powder dashi as this soup stock is really simple to prepare and extra portion could be kept in fridge or freezer.
This is an extremely easy dish that can be prepared one day in advance, the key being good dashi fish stock. Freshly cooked, the cabbage is slightly tinted light brown. Chef Aki shared with us how to present this dish in the proper Japanese way - to pile the cabbage in the middle of the plate and leave some white area all around. Apparently, it's important to have 'air' around the dish.
If left overnight and re-heated, the cabbage will be more flavourful with darker tinge of brown. We could taste the natural sweetness of the cabbage itself and in fact the sweetness was enhanced by the dashi fish stock. I will definitely try this recipe since both hubby and I like chinese cabbage.
The next recipe is Simmered Chicken & Boiled Eggs in Sweet Sour Sauce. Yet another simple dish which requires little effort.
I love this dish which was sweet and salty yet a tinge of sourish from the use of brown rice vinegar. The sauce really whets one's appetite and goes well with rice. Although the chicken is not marinated, it's flavourful having immensed in the sauce. Not sure whether hubby will take to the taste but this is definitely a keeper for me!
Next up, plum liquor jelly which is once again very easy to prepare. Served cold, this is definitely a refreshing dessert to cleanse the palate.
I don't really take alcohol but this is really light. Fans of umesyu will love it.
I'm really impressed with this gratin dish. Most of the gratin recipes I came across use whipping cream, creme fraiche or milk which seem quite overwhelming. But this recipe uses unsweetened soy milk, dashi fish stock, plain flour and miso paste, which surprisingly taste like cheese flavour when combined! Certainly a healthier version of gratin which I would like to try making! Large portion can be prepared for sharing or
personal portions served in individual baking dish.
The finale and perfect ending to the class, Tofu Cheese Cake. A healthier version of cheese cake where tofu and yogurt are added besides cream cheese. Best part, it's a no-bake cheese cake.
When eaten on the same day, the taste will be more of tofu. If eaten the next day, more cream cheese taste. Best served cold with some berries jam. The tangy berries jam complemented the creamy cheese cake well, what a sweet ending. Will try this one of these days as well :)
The dishes demo-ed in this class change my impression of Jap cooking and Chef Aki is really friendly with easy-to-follow instructions. Will see if I have time to attend more of her classes. Meanwhile, the first dish I'm going to attempt is the Simmered Chicken & Boil Egg in Sweet Sour Sauce. Stay tuned!