Discovering Japanese Food

15 January 2014

suko zushi

Japan is one of those places I've got a bit of an obsession with, despite never having visited.  Most of my knowledge of the country has come from books, films, magazines and blogs, so the main way I try experience something first hand is by eating the food.   I'm a frequent Japan Centre visitor whenever I'm in the area, picking the kind of sushi I like on sight (I've got no qualms about all the rawness) but I've always wanted to know the proper way to do things.  You know, not just dousing your nigri with everything that comes in the packet and eating the whole thing in one go but learning about the different processes and traditions.  A little while ago I was given the chance to educate myself with a cookery class at Atsuko's kitchen in Shoreditch.  It was my first travel-related blogger event with KLM (I'm a long way off planning a trip there but it's good to know they fly to Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, plus there's a noodle option on the menu) so it was great to try something a little different from the norm.  I wasn't sure how involved we'd be getting with all the cooking but there was to be no hiding, so soon enough I was showing off my rubbish chopping skills and sneaking a few tasty nibbles.

Atsuko's kitchen Japanese cookery class
learning to make authentic japanese food in London
edamame beans
Japanese sake
fresh spring onion
learning to make japanese food
learning to make authentic japanese food in London
making Japanese food
uk travel blogs

When Atsuko explained that we would be making four dishes, it seemed a little impossible especially with a rumbling tummy, but luckily the ten of us made a good team and had a sort of production line going on.  We learnt about the five main seasonings that you need to know, miri, sweet sake, rice wine vinegar, miso paste and good old soy sauce.  Some dishes such as tempura even have a bit of a Portuguese influence but the aim for us was to make some traditional Kyushu foods with a stronger flavour.  We learnt to make Suko Zuzhi (a kind of sushi), Higomoji no Guruguru (spring onion parcels), Mizutaki Nabe (hotpot with chicken meatballs) and luckily the Buto No Kakuni (square pork) appeared perfectly formed.  Everything was nicely finished off with some sake and cake, the perfect introduction to food from this region.

Japanese omelette
learning to make authentic japanese food in London
cutting japanese sushi rice into cubes
mizutaki nabe Japanese hot pot dish
how to make hitomoji no guruguru
mizutaki nabe Japanese hot pot dish
how to make hitomoji no guruguru
learning to make authentic japanese food in London
Japanese food for beginners

Even though it was a novel idea, cooking your own food at an event, it worked surprisingly well.  My part was very small due to getting these photos, but I can now say that I can chop chicken to a reasonably decent standard.  I finally have an inkling of what goes on behind the scenes at Japanese restaurants (there were some mad presentation skills on show) and appreciate the craft even more.  I may not be an expert when it comes to the menus just yet, but at least I have a few more dishes I can order when stumped.

6 comments:

  1. I love this post Kristabel, and you've made me feel rather intimidated - there is no way I can do any better with my post, especially as I barely got any photos, as I was doing a lot of the cooking! I'm actually going to another Japanese cooking thing at the end of the month, so it is my plan to put together a recipe for the blog with a little bit from both events in it too.

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  2. the cooking class seems like so much fun and the results look delicious! I love the bakery in the Japan Centre, green tea choux is the best dessert I've tasted haha. It's great that you were able to pick up a few new techniques, I tend t buy packeted food from the Japan Centre like furikake (rice seasoning) and try to pass that off as actually cooking!
    x

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  3. It looks like such a great experience, Japan is an amazing place. I went something like 7 or 8 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long?!) and to this day it is still one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was actually really upset I had to go home, I would have happily stayed forever. I hope you get to go one day, nearly everyone I know has been and every single person has enjoyed it immensely. x

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  4. Oh my looks so so good!! I love Japanese food and I never get to eat enough of it.

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  5. It all looks so tasty! Food envy, much...

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  6. I love Japanese food so I'm very jealous. I agree with you, I have no idea how it's all put together - it just tastes amazing. Glad it was a good event x

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