Japanese Cooking At Kei’s Kitchen

This would be my third class at Kei’s Kitchen. The class we are doing is a Large Platter Class, which Kei and Masako normally do at the end of the year. The dishes you make at this class are normally dishes you would see at big parties.  They are all designed to feed 10 or more people.

On the menu is Ocean Trout Kenchin Style (Stuffed with Tofu), Chicken Rolls with Smoked Salmon, Asparagus with a Tomato and Egg Jelly, Beef Shabu Shabu Salad and two types of Sushi Rolls.

The first thing that Kei teaches the class is how to make the Dashi. She always says at the beginning of every class “No Dashi, No Japanese Food”. After the Dashi is made, we begin by de-boning the 2.5 kilo Ocean Trout which we will later stuff with a Tofu mix.

Kei shows us how to carefully de-bone without damaging too much of the flesh. What took 15 minutes will probably take me an hour to do. She cuts across the back bone without damaging the outer skin and proceeds to take the bones of almost in one piece. One of the students made a comment that its almost as precise as a surgeon.

The fish was later stuffed with a tofu mixture and sewn back together to be baked in the oven. Masako points out that we should always use black thread so its easier to take it off the fish once cooked.

I was assigned to cook the beef for the Shabu Shabu Salad. The meat was thinly sliced Wagyu Beef which I quickly dipped in hot Dashi. This was then served on a bed of salad greens, blueberries, kiwi fruit, radish sprouts, cucumber, oranges and witloof. I have never thought of putting fruit in a salad but it certainly worked and took away from the richness of the thinly sliced meat.

When you think of Japanese food, you don't really think of Chicken Rolls stuffed with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus. I certainly changed my mind after my first bite. The chicken was lean and full of flavour from the smoked salmon and asparagus. The panko crumbs added crunch and even though we fried this dish it was light.

The Chicken Roll was served with a Tomato and Egg Jelly which was made by using Agar Agar. I must admit this was a challenge for me to eat. I found the texture odd but the flavours were amazing.

Each of us had to make a Sushi Roll. We made two Sushi Rolls. A Tuna, Sprout and Wasabi Mayo Roll and a Prawn and Avocado Uramaki. The sushi rice was carefully weighed and we were each shown the proper way of rolling.

After all the preparation, we set the table, ready to eat what we have all made. It was certainly a massive spread, that was beautifully presented. There was so much food that the whole class managed to fill containers with food to take home.

It was a fantastic day, I learnt so much. Kei and Masako have certainly taught me a lot about Japanese Cuisine and I cant wait to go to another class in 2012. 

If you are interested in learning about the art of Japanese Food, make sure you check Kei's Kitchen for their 2012 class schedule.

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