As a foodie, I am always on the lookout for new experiences, challenges and loads of knowledge. We thrive on knowing about different cuisines, tasting them, reading about them and even making them. So, when Rushina (you know her from here!) asked me if I would like to be a part of her session on Japanese cooking, I was delighted to accept.
I’ve had Japanese food, whatever little of it, at Kofuku and at Aoi but never really made it! It is rather fascinating to watch the sushi chefs roll the sushi and create a variety of flavours with essentially what seem to be the same ingredients. But its not the case! As we learnt two Sundays ago! So at APB Cook Studio, we learnt a variety of things. How to make udon noodles, roll sushi rolls, a fascinating method of making egg rolls, cabbage pancakes and the most divine sweet potato cakes! We were all divided into pairs, and I was partnered with Komal Bhambani the instructor.
We started off by making the dough for the noodles. I must say it is rather therapeutic to knead the dough into submission. After keep it aside to rest, we observed Komal showing us how to make egg rolls. I’m not sure I can describe it as well, but here’s how it went. She poured a thin layer of beaten egg into a medium hot pan till it started cooking from the bottom then rolled it and pushed it to one end of the pan. Then, she poured another portion of the egg and used the first roll to roll the second egg – so pretty much its an egg roll within an egg roll and so on!
We then learned to roll the sushi. Sushi is nothing but sticky Japanese rice mixed in with rice vinegar, with a sheet of seaweed and three main ingredients (can be vegetables or meat) in different colours! It is essentially rolled using a bamboo mat and, nowadays, cling wrap. In the original roll, the seaweed is placed on the cling wrap and the rice is spread across it (using wet fingers; it is really sticky!). Then, three ingredients of different colours are placed on the roll and then it is, well, rolled! And, this is eaten fresh. The California sushi roll is essentially the same thing, with the rice outside, usually dotted with black sesame seeds and sometimes filled with mayonnaise. The Temari rolls are so much simpler to make. Simply take a piece of cling film, place some pickled veggies or cooked seafood in the middle and top with sticky rice. Roll this into a ball and you’re done.
Once the demo was done, we all set about making our own sushi. I used these gorgeous looking crab sticks along with some egg and cucumber in my sushi. Added some mayonnaise to the California roll and made both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions of Temari.
We then proceeded to making the sweet potato cakes. I loved this recipe. Mashed sweet potato with cream and butter and piped on to a baking sheet and baked in the oven to bring out slightly crispy on the top and soft on the inside cakes. The sweetness of the potatoes are not overpowering, neither is it too heavy to consume. It’s just perfect. Watch out for the recipe at the end of this post.
We then went on to making the cabbage pancakes or Okonomiyaki. This was a beautiful addition to the already popular cabbage recipes we use. Some flour, cabbage, spring onions and water are used to make the pancakes. Cooked over a griddle, these are then topped with a delicious Okonomiyaki sauce (a concoction of worcestershire sauce, ketchup, honey and oyster sauce) and mayonnaise.
And finally, we made the udon noodles to go with the shitake mushroom broth that was already prepared by Rushina and her team.
One of the most enjoyable parts of any cooking class at APB Cookstudio is when Rushina gets into her zone. Her passion for food, for cooking, for creating stuff purely through her creativity is quite contagious. She inspires the participants by working with us. At this particular class, she created a sushi bhel/sushi casserole, which is basically deconstructed sushi without the seaweed, called Chirashi sushi. She also used some butter paper to create a wonderfully eccentric combination of potatoes, bacon, okra, some sauces and greens to steam en papillote!
We then sat down to a feast of all that we had made over the three hours and boy, what a meal that was! Eleven happy participants sat around the table to eat some beautiful, homemade Japanese fare!
Leaving you with the recipe for the Sweet Potato Cakes.