03 September 2015

Japanese Home Style Cooking Class by Atelier Koinu

Last Friday, I took time off and travelled all the way from the west of Singapore to the east, to attend a hands-on class on Japanese Home Style Cooking conducted by Chef Aki Watanabe.

She used to teach at Shermay's Cooking School and I have attended quite a few of her cooking and baking classes which I enjoyed very much. Since Shermay has closed the school, Chef Aki is now conducting lessons at her private abode under "Atelier Koinu". In fact, she started Atelier Koinu even before teaching at Shermay's and has been doing so all this while.

Although I would love to attend more of her lessons, timing and distance is my concern. Anyways, I saw on her Facebook about this particular class with recipes that I'm very interested. So made up my mind to go the distance!

I must say I totally enjoyed the class, especially the hands-on, hardly had the chance to attend such classes. Learnt many useful cutting techniques and practical tips on cooking, and certainly gained more knowledge about Japanese cooking.

Best of all, we got to enjoy our fruits of labour immediately after the cooking and had a great time chit-chatting! This Japanese lunch set which I helped to prepare certainly looked tantalising and trust me, tasted equally good :)

The main course of the set, Chicken Namban. Chicken thigh meat that's light marinated and deep fried to a crisp and then coated with a sweet vinegar sauce. It's so yummy good to eat on its own but even better with the Yogurt Tartar Sauce! The sauce tasted similar to the tartar sauce found in Mcdonald's Fillet-O-Fish but fresher and tastier. I can already think of making this sauce to go with fish & chips, breaded prawns or calamari.

I love this refreshing salad made of daikon radish, japanese cucumber and carrot and tossed in a dressing made of shio koji and sesame. I think I could just eat a whole bowl of it as a main dish instead of a side salad :p

This is the first time I learn about Shio Koji, which is a rice malt and salt seasoning. Besides using it as a dressing, it can also be used to marinate meat and fish. I love the taste of it and can't wait to go to Meidi-ya supermarket (only available there) to get some so that I can prepare this salad soon!

I love this hijiki seaweed salad too! The beauty of it is, it can be cooked in advance and freeze for future consumption. The Japanese uses this salad as a filler dish for bento box because it's suitable for eating at room temperature. Taste-wise is a little sweet and salty, very light on the palate, healthy too and hence very popular salad.

It's actually not that easy to cook a bowl of good authentic miso soup. Nowadays, ready-made miso soups are readily sold at supermarkets, but the Japanese still believe in cooking it from scratch starting from the dashi stock made of water, kombu kelp and Katsuobushi bonito flakes. It's important not to let the miso paste boil after adding to the stock or else it will lose its flavour.

This bowl of miso soup tasted mild with a sweet after taste, whereas most miso soup I tasted (including the ones I tried cooking) were simply salty and flat. Now I know.

Steamed Japanese Rice, each grain represents the heart and soul of the Japanese people. Cooking Japanese rice also requires meticulous technique of rinsing and rubbing and soaking the grains, not as straightforward as we thought. The additional steps are important to ensure that the rice cooked will be glistering, fluffy and sweet.

Actually I couldn't wait to try out all the dishes, but didn't have time to go to the Meidi-ya supermarket to gather the essential ingredients that I lacked. But definitely, I have to try them soon!

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