Coming to Japan, my extent of Japanese food consisted of Maruchan Ramen Noodle packs and the 15-20 times I could afford to have sushi in the states. I knew absolutely nothing about cooking traditional Japanese food, though I love cooking and learning new dishes! When the opportunity arose to take a Kaiseki cooking class where I got to satisfy my interest fervor, I immediately ran with it.
When you first walk in, the class is held in a studio-resident condo that has a very authentic Japanese feel, beginning with removing your outside shoes at the door and slipping on the provided indoor ones. You then wash your hands and get ready to begin the class.
We began the class with a bit of education on the country and all the things relevant to the food we were going to be cooking. That was when I realized just how many dishes we were going to be learning that day: NINE. At first, I thought I misheard. Believing I had aged 50 years overnight, I checked to see if my hearing was correct. The recipe list provided indeed had nine different recipes. Whaaaaa. I knew Kaiseki Ryori was a multi-course meal, but I was thinking 4-6 based on Google images. I could not wait to get started!
The instructor had many things pre-prepared (or else our three-hour class would have been closer to five hours) so we were able to jump right into the action. We began by making the food that would be considered appetizer foods, such as accordion cucumber salad and mizore dressed tomato. I especially enjoyed making the cucumber dish as we were taught a cutting technique that I have never done before! It was nice to learn something new that I could add to my repertoire.
I’m going to skip right to my favorite part now, which was cooking the rolled omelet. I had seen them at restaurants and all over the internet, but never knew how to make one and always wanted to make one of my own. Now, I was FINALLY getting the chance! Turns out, you have to have a special pan in the first place. This explains why I was never able to make it the same (I always used a regular circle pan). First, you lay down a thin layer of egg, then roll it with your cooking chopsticks, pour the rest of the egg, make sure to get the second layer underneath the first part of the omelet, and then roll the rest. It was so simple! Disclaimer: just because it was simple does not mean it was easy. It was actually very tough!
There were so many highlights in this cooking class I could write about it to death. As a self-proclaimed home chef, this cooking class was one of the best learning experiences in recent memory. At the end of the class, the Frenchman, Turkish man, Japanese instructors, and myself shared food stories and got to know each other a bit more before parting ways. It was not just about the food, it was about the experience and the people I was with. I will absolutely remember this encounter until I am a goofy old man who has to wear velcro shoes and loses his dentures.
Hello! I am a graduate of the University of North Texas who is in Japan for the first time this summer. I am an intern here for the summer. You can probably find me eating, exercising, watching sports, or going around the city with friends, so if you see me anywhere, don’t hesitate to say hi!