I saw the advert for this course on the noticeboard of our local Macro Wholefoods. It sounded interesting and after checking out the website, I booked up.
It took place in Bondi Junction in the Blanco kitchen showroom, which was quite interesting, although there were only a handful of people that popped in while we were doing the course and we weren't disturbed.
Yoshiko Takeuchi, the tutor, used to work at Tetsuya's, a Sydney restaurant that is currently number 17 on the Best Restaurants in the World list, so she should know what she's doing. And she does.
Japanese food is a mystery to me as it mostly seems fish or meat based, so to spend some time cooking with ingredients I'd never heard of was great.
To begin with we cooked Inari Zushi, which is rice in beancurd skin, something which I'd eaten before, but never knew its name. The process of boiling the skins, squeezing out the liquid and then simmering them in a mixture of mirin, soy sauce and dashi powder before splitting the skins to make a pocket so the sesame rice we cooked could be stuffed inside took quite a while but let me tell you, it was worth it.
Next up we made a pile of dumplings from flour and silken tofu. These were used in a variety of dishes and were paired with Zensai (a warm red been soup), Black Syrup & Kinako (a sweet syrup), Isobe Yaki (soy sauce and nori) and Green Tea Ice Cream and Sweet Azuki (sweet red beans). My favourite was the black syrup.
We also made Nasu No Dengaku(eggplant with sweet red and white miso) which was wonderful. It was grilled rather than fried, so used a lot less oil than the traditional Japanese version of this dish. It also looked great.
Accompanying the eggplant was Agedashi Dofu (fried tofu with soy sauce) and Daikon & Edamame Salad with Ume Dressing (Japanese pickled plum dressing).
All the dishes were really tasty, and I enjoyed cooking with such unfamiliar ingredients. There were five of us on the course and we all got plenty of hands-on experience. Yoshiko is a great teacher and explained each of the ingredients as we went along gradually de-mystifying the techniques of Japanese cooking.
The recipe book that we were given also has a great glossary and a list of places where the ingredients can be bought.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable course and I can't wait to try out some of the recipes at home.