On March 24, 2016, I had the pleasure of teaching a Japanese cooking class at a local store, The Happy Cook, in Charlottesville, Virginia. A few weeks prior, the owners, managers and I went over several menu options, and we came up with Shoyu Ramen and Pork Gyoza as the menu. We thought people would love it, and they did. The class sold out two weeks prior!
There was a lot of preparation in the logistics and the food, and it was so exciting! I love Japanese food, and it was such a joy to share Japanese flavors with new friends.
The first course was a classic Japanese pork dumpling, which I make in my home every week. My family absolutely goes crazy for them. I have the recipe posted here.
My Vegan friend signed up for the class, so I wanted to provide an option for her to be able to taste the food. I borrowed one of my favorite Japanese cookbooks, Japanese Soul Cooking (I wrote a review here.), from the library, because I remembered they had a Vegetarian dumpling recipe in there. The basic contents were blanched spinach, tofu, toasted pine nuts, Vegan red miso paste, toasted sesame oil, and the usual aromatics: ginger, garlic, and scallions. They were pretty delicious. Next time, I will add some crunchy cabbage. You can put anything in these dumplings, really. For me,it’s the crispy fried bottoms and soy/vinegar/chili oil dipping sauce that makes this a favorite.
Next, we made homemade noodles. I had not planned on making my own noodles. I had never met any homemaker in Japan who made their own; It is very common to simply buy frozen fresh noodles or ramen kits, and prepare your own soup. However, in our area, it is very popular to people to make their own breads and pastas, so I tried a recipe I found online. It was so simple! See the recipe here.
The main course is the Shoyu Ramen. See recipe here. The broth takes 4 hours, so I could not really show my guests how to make this, but it is a really basic combination of pork, chicken, dashi stock with soy sauce “tare” (a combination of soy sauce, sake & mirin). The end result is a delicious, homemade ramen soup topped with whatever fresh ingredients you can get. For this class, I chose local eggs marinated in soy sauce, blanched spinach, sliced scallions and braised pork (“Chashu”).
My friend Stephanie took these photos, and this one is my favorite:
Overall, I had a great time, and I hear my guests did as well. I will be planning another class soon. What do you think I should teach? I was thinking of bento, tempura or a traditional Japanese dinner with soup, rice, marinated fish, pickles and simmered vegetables. I would love to hear your thoughts!