Tuesday evening saw eight keen cooks getting into the zen mindset of Japanese cooking at Chorlton High School. The art of Japanese cooking, we are told, is all about not rushing: engaging with each of the ingredients and taking time to combine them to create some amazing and interesting flavours.
Firstly, Kim instructed the group to soak the kelp, a seaweed which would be slowly heated after rehydration to form the base of a broth for the miso soup. Next Kim taught the group some useful techniques for efficiently chopping the veg, including how to chop a pepper without wasting a single bite of it, and how to chop a carrot to create beautiful flowers.
The participants were then introduced to some new and interesting Japanese flavours including tamari, miso and mirin which would be added to the broth. The cooks were divided into three groups to make the soup and, after all the ingredients were combined, each version tasted slightly but noticeably different due to the varying quantities of ginger, chilli or miso that each of the groups added to their own broth - they all tasted fantastic, however!
The Japanese use a variety of fermented ingredients within their cooking, such as miso. This not only creates some fantastic and unusual flavours but is also incredibly good for you, Kim informs us, as the fermentation process creates ‘good bacteria’ which is helpful for the digestive system. Much like a certain yoghurt drink but a lot tastier!
Once the miso soup was slurped up it was time for sushi rolling. More vegetables were chopped and a huge variety of ingredients such as wasabi paste, pickled ginger and mirin were placed in the centre of the table so each cook could create their own unique sushi and dipping sauce depending on their tastes. The rice which was cooked earlier and left to cool (pictured above) was spread out across a sushi sheet on top of a sushi mat. A selection of veg, pastes and sauces were sprinkled on top and the whole thing was rolled into a sushi sausage using the mat. Kim of course made this process look far simpler than it is in reality but each of our cooks got the hang of this technique and made some beautiful and tasty sushi to take home and enjoy.
The evening was a huge success and a great introduction to some new ingredients. Thank you to Kim and well done to the group.
Please see Cracking Good Food's Facebook page for more photographs from this session. Click here.