Japanese Cooking Class at Tomo no Kai

Japanese Cooking Class at Tomo no Kai

One afternoon we all traipsed over to Tomo no Kai, a women's association in Kanazawa, for a class in Japanese cooking. These infinitely patient women gave us a lesson in the basics of preparing Japanese food.

Step 1: Slicing

We got started on the tempura first. Pierre, at left, and Sondra, at right, were put to work slicing and arranging various things for the tempura dish.

We also made shrimp, green bean, and mushroom tempura. Even before we got to the school, those ingredients had been artfully arranged on these cooking platters.

Step 2: Batter and Deep Fry

Next came dipping the tempura ingredients in the batter and slipping it into the deep fryer using long o-hashi (Japanese-style chopsticks). Since this was pretty much the funnest part of the preparation, everybody wanted a chance.

Cooking Class Frances Hams It Up
Frances follows the camera as Joy coats the vegetables with batter.
Then looks down as the fryer takes over.
Matt and Jose give it a try.

"ii desu" says Yoshimoto-sensei!
Matt, Lesley (behind), Frances, and Joy study the best arrangement.

Step 3: Arrange Nicely

Our cooking senseis emphasized how important appeance is in Japanese cooking. As the tempura was finished, each piece was arranged nicely on a small serving tray along with garnishes.

Lesley carefully places two pieces of tempura on each tray while Okayam-sensei keeps a watchful eye.
Watching the tempura go
Jose, Pierre, Sondra, Simon, Matt, and Joy examine the proceedings.

Step 4: Soup

We also made a clear fish broth soup to go with the tempura.

Joy arranges the tempura
Joy finishes arranging the last of the tempura.

Step 5: Onigiri

The last course was a pair of onigiri, traditional Japanese rice balls (originally food for traveling, and in modern Japan still often used for a similar purpose of food on the go, although they more likely come from the combini (corner convienence store) nowadays. We each made two onigiri, one traditional type with umeboshi, a very tart Japanese pickled plum, in the middle; and a second one with salmon in the middle.

Joy, Yasuko and Matt examine the outcome
Joy, Yasuko, and Matt examine the food on the table.
Yasuko and Seul
Yasuko and Seul prepare to dig in
Cooking Class Joses Turn To Ham
Jose shows his apprecation for the feast.

Step 6: And now, we eat!

As every participant in a seder knows, eventually you do get to eat at this kind of thing. In Japan, one says "itadakimasu" before eating, which we did as a group before partaking (most of us, including myself, has already learned about saying itadakimasu at our homestay houses).

Our food was quite yummy despite the fact that we had a hand in making it (thanks to our senseis). After finishing our food, we walked back to Biz Cafe and Famille!

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