Father’s Cooking Classes III and IV

Father’s Cooking Class III

The final Father’s Cooking Class of the year was a bonenkai (end of the year party), which meant that in addition to preparing a meal, we partook in some after-dinner sake consumption. The meal we made was perfect for a chilly winter evening – including oden (type of soup), egoma onigiri (rice balls), buridaikon and whiskey-spiked fruit salad.

The ingredients for oden can vary immensely, and I feel as though we used almost everything imaginable in the pot we prepared for the bonenkai, including daikon, konnyaku (devil’s tongue), hard-boiled eggs, chikuwa (pounded fish cakes), jagaimo (taro root), tako (octopus tentacles), aburage (fried tofu), goba (burdock root), rorukabetsu (cabbage rolls) and mochi satchels

Satchels of fried tofu filled with mochi:

Konnyaku – usually found in block form, though I prefer it as a noodle.

Buridikon – buri being the in-season fish of choice these days.

Egoma is Kawamoto’s “famous product” – a kind of sesame seed often seen on top of rice. Here we cooked it with the rice and simply shaped them by hand into egoma onigiri.  This being the first time I made onigiri under the scrutiny of a Japanese eye, I learned something new: the texture and flavor of the onigiri changes completely depending on how hard you press when you are shaping the rice. If you press every so slightly – just enough to stick the rice grains together, the onigiri are phenomenal. If you push too hard and crush the grains of rice together into one sticky mass, I doubt if any self-respecting Japanese person would eat it.

Sashimi in process. This gentleman always makes the sashimi at these meals. Although I’d like to learn, I appreciate his skill and the reverence with which we all regard him as he’s preparing the beautiful sashimi plates.

The un-spiked fruit salad. It was delicious with or without the whiskey, though there seemed to be a mutual preference among the fathers…

Myself, a fellow ALT, a friend who works at the town office, and two of the original Father’s Cooking Class participants. They told me they had been attending for over thirty years (making this bonenkai their 298th cooking class!).

Father’s Cooking Class IV 

Last week a group of approximately twenty locals gathered for the first cooking class of the New Year. We made a delightful meal of buridaikon, zakokurigenmaigohan (brown rice), buri no terikyaki, yaki ringo (baked apples), and kasujiru (soup made from the sediment leftover after brewing sake).

I was shocked when the class leader pulled the buri from the sink. It was huge! I thought for a moment that it was a small shark…to the grand amusement of the more seafood-accustomed class members.

Mottainai is the Japanese idiom for “waste not want not”. In respect to mottainai – none of the buri went to waste. We cooked up the innards and served them as a sort of side dish. Fantastically delicious. I had a few extra helpings…

We found so many ways to prepare the buri, this being my favorite: thick slices seared in a cast iron pan and slathered in teriyaki sauce.

One of the fancier side dishes / plate decorations was Japanese turnip shredded on one side only, done by setting a chopstick on each side of the turnip and slicing down three-quarters of the way into each slice. These shredded cubes were then sprinkled with yuzu peel.

More buri sashimi…so delicious. He even created “sashimi roses” by rolling the sashimi up in layers.

The complete meal. Clockwise from top left: kasujiru, buri shashimi, buridaikon, ocha, genmai and terikyaki buri.

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