Kaisen Don and Soba Challenge with Asako Nonaka

We started with a simple introduction of the menu–soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) and kaisen don (seafood rice bowl). It was my virgin cooking class and I think I have misregistered myself for Master’s course.

Challenge 1: Debone a whole fish

I liked Asako’s way of teaching. She demonstrates and then, lets us try. Eventually, we removed the fins, bones and innards, all by ourselves! I felt super proud! Challenge 1 completed!

Bonus stage: It was lunch time but food wasn’t ready yet. This is where I love Asako even more. She decided to slice up half a fish for us. She insisted she wants us to taste the fish at its freshest. A good teacher is not all work and no play đŸ™‚

Challenge 2: Soba making

I have made Chinese dumplings with my mother many times. I know how to knead a dough. Or so, I thought.
Japanese cuisine is similar to many other aspects of Japanese culture–calligraphy, tea ceremony, flower arrangements–it requires patience and diligence.
Kneading a soba dough is very different from kneading the dough for Chinese dumplings. The latter requires brute force. The former is so detailed.

Example, mix the dry ingredients and flatten the surface evenly. This apparently helps to make sure the water can be added more evenly. Every step was about maintaining consistency.

Kneading was like an aerobics class. We kept counting “1, 2, 3”.
Keeping count helps you to remember what was done and how many times it was done.
Again, consistency.

After much hardwork, we completed the dishes for the day. The feeling of satisfaction is amazing! I wish I can feel that every day at work. What’s best is that you get to taste the fruit of your hard work RIGHT AWAY, pippin’ hot and yummy.

Asako also told us about herself, what she used to study and how she became an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and a cooking teacher. I really respect and envy how she found her passion. Moreover, she only wants to do good–help people eat and live healthily.

Yan Ting is a Singaporean Chinese living and working in Tokyo. She loves food, traveling, and meeting people. She is working towards becoming a polyglot.

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