Japan, Japan, Japan…
Like many, when I first thought of Japanese food all that came to mind was sushi. However, after some time, I realized that Japanese cuisine is one of the world’s most diverse — fresh vegetables and an assortment of seafood and meat, all cooked (or left raw) to any individual’s liking! Not to mention, it’s always beautifully presented.
Having lived in Japan for three years now, I’m still impressed by how elegant the presentation of Japanese cooking is, even if it’s something as simple as sweets in a box. Having enjoyed Japanese food for so long, I decided that I wanted to be able to cook it as well. I came across a vegan cooking class on Tokyo by Food when looking on the Internet, and decided it would be the perfect place to start my mission. Since my family members are vegetarian, I thought getting to know the different vegetable substitutes to traditional Japanese dishes would be perfect when I want to cook for my family in the future.
The course was held by two incredibly sweet Japanese ladies: Akiko and Rina. The class itself was held in Rina’s apartment near Kasai station and was a conveniently short walk. The two were very welcoming and warm, and I can confidently say they did a fantastic job to make us feel at home right away. They even prepared a booklet to outline the dishes we were going to cook — talk about being prepared!
We ended up cooking a variety of dishes ranging from soups, sides, and even dessert! I won’t talk about everything, but one of my favorites was definitely the hand roll sushi or temaki sushi in Japanese. They provided a variety of vegetable toppings (paprika, cucumber, etc), and the rice was brown instead of white — something I’ve never tried before. Although I was nervous that the sushi wouldn’t be rolled as perfectly as the ones I’ve seen, Akiko and Rina were more than willing to help. With the help of our two hosts (and an easy to use bamboo mat they provided), it ended up much better than what I thought it would be. Although… not perfect, but can’t expect too much from a first-timer!
Another amazingly simple, but super delicious garnish we created was tofu mayo. I know, it sounds strange, but trust me, it’s incredible. We used it to put under the temaki sushi, which not only made it aesthetically beautiful but paired perfectly with the flavored brown rice. Who knew something so simple could be so mind-blowing?
In the end, once we had created everything, all the dishes were served together in perfect order. we ended up creating around five different items, and even a fruit sherbet as dessert! It was great to see that traditional Japanese foods, like miso soup or gyoza, had delicious vegan options that could easily be created at home.
It was a very satisfying experience overall, made better by how great Akiko and Rina were as both hosts and teachers. I definitely gained a whole level of understanding and appreciation for Japanese cooking, and I can’t wait to make these at home for my family.
Learn and prepare a vegan meal of some of Japan’s most popular dishes. From soups to desserts and everything in between, dive into an experience that is both healthy and delicious all at once. Book your vegan cooking class in Tokyo now!
Kiki is from Singapore and currently living in Tokyo. She started to pursue her passion for Japanese food since she moved to Tokyo a few years ago. She spends a lot of time trying restaurants, cafes, and bars across Japan. She believes that when you travel, there is no better way to connect people than through food.