Cooking and Conversation

Last night I went back to college! That’s a little misleading, but I have enrolled in a six week course on Japanese cooking and conversation. It’s on Monday nights at the local community college and I love it 🙂 I have to admit that I was a little nervous, particularly about signing up alone, but I have studied so much Japanese history and want to continue expanding my cooking skills so it just felt right.

Our sensei is an adorable Japanese-American woman who is firm but patient with the sixteen of us enrolled in her class. We meet in a chemistry lab and use hot plates since there is no formal cooking lab on campus. I was a bit curious to see what the demographic of students would be, but we have a fairly good mix. There’s a couple my age, four guys my age, a couple in their sixties, and seven women in their forties or fifties. And me! Everyone is super nice and there was no awkward silence, which I think was helped by the fact that this is a very hands-on course.

On the menu for last night were onigiri (rice balls) and yakisoba (fried noodles). We were divided into teams, given recipes and ingredients, and put to work. First up was yakisoba, which is like a stirfry dish. Different groups had pork, chicken, or beef and we all had cabbage, onions, carrots, noodles, and sauce packets. Our sensei emailed us a list after class of the best Japanese or Asian markets to find some of the more unique ingredients for our future reference, which is awesome.

I really liked this first dish! Mainly because its a drier stirfry, so no heavy sauce (which I typically don’t prefer). My favorite of the meats was beef but that could’ve been due to their slightly heavier seasoning 🙂 While eating, our sensei taught us basic Japanese vocab for everything we were using and general salutations and words that would be helpful while eating (more, delicious, etc). We were instructed to bring notebooks so we could annotate the recipes with tips and to document new words so we can be “tested” next week.

Then we constructed rice balls, which are typically given for school lunches or field trips. We discussed rice steaming techniques and shaping strategies to get the perfect presentation. A combination of spices was hand-mixed and seaweed provided the base. This would be a cool way to have a side of rice during a meal but wasn’t anything too unique. They are also more triangular in shape than round, and the seasonings were good. We started with a few easier dishes this week to get to know each other and the routine of class. We also had a nice question and answer session at the end to ask about other words and cultural traditions in Japan. I can’t wait for next week when we learn how to roll sushi!

And for those of you in SoCal: yes, I do plan to have a meal after my last class to practice and display my new culinary skills 😉 Sayonara!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Rays of Funshine
  2. Trackback: Cultural Culinary Creations | Rays of Funshine
  3. Trackback: 30B430 – Two Weeks in… | Rays of Funshine

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