Ever since our trip to Japan, I have been meaning to fire up a feast of my own, similar to the one we experienced in our cooking class. I can’t believe it took me five months to finally try those recipes on my own again. I took advantage of having a quiet day on Christmas Day where there were no other distractions to finally cook up my own storm. You’ll notice that many of the same ingredients are used over and over again in the various items – makes it fairly easy to stock your pantry to have these items readily available. Also, if you buy a wheat-free soy sauce, these recipes would be gluten free as well.
I started by making dashi (soup stock) out of kombu – during our class, it was described to us as being similar to kelp – luckily, kombu was readily available at my local Japanese market and I didn’t have to go hunting for an alternative.
To make the dashi (stock):
- 10 sq cm of dry kombu
- 1L water
- 1 or 2 dried shittake mushrooms, if desired (provides an earthiness to the stock)
- Rinse the dry kombu.
- Let the kombu (and mushrooms if using) sit overnight in the refrigerator in the water or simmer it on low heat for 10 minutes – it is important to follow this specific step to prevent sliminess
The next item I attempted to make was tempura – I started out with making small pieces of broccoli tempura to use in some rolls. Most tempura batters call for a long list of ingredients, including eggs and various types of flours, but I kept mine simple and it was a success. I mixed equal parts rice flour and cold club soda – my first batch of tempura turned out to be much better than the second – I think it was because I made a smaller batch of batter the first time around, and the club soda was fizzier and colder the first time around as well.
- 1 cup rice flour (I used brown rice flour and it worked just fine)
- 1 cup cold club soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch cayenne
- veggies prepped and sliced to your liking (I used yams, zucchini, broccoli and green beans)
- Mix the rice flour and club soda until the batter is no longer lumpy – do not over mix.
- Add the salt and cayenne.
- Allow the batter to sit for about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat up some oil (I used vegetable oil) in a wok or tempura pan.
- Add a spot of the batter into the oil to test to see if it is ready – if the batter quickly floats to the top, your oil is hot enough.
- Dip your veggies into the batter and place them into the oil – I used wooden chopsticks for this process – kept my hands clean to be able to manage other tasks at the same time.
- Your tempura is ready when the batter has turned a light golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
For the tempura sauce:
- 1 cup dashi
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- grated daikon (optional)
- Mix the liquids together and begin to simmer on low heat.
- Add the sugar to the mix and stir until dissolved.
- Add the grated daikon before serving if desired.
I made the tempura sauce in advance and left it in the pot. I brought it up to a simmer just before serving.
Using the remaining dashi, I made a batch of miso soup. To make the soup, I brought the dashi to a boil (after removing the kombu) and added in 3 generous tablespoons of red miso. Once it had all mixed together, I turned the heat off. When I was ready to serve the soup, I brought it back up to a boil and added in chopped green onions and tofu to the mix. Easy-peasy!
The last item I made was a large variety of sushi rolls. I started out by making the sushi rice using the following recipe:
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 3 cups water
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp agave nectar
- 1 tsp salt
- Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear.
- Combine rice and water in a pot and allow to sit for 30 minutes before cooking.
- Bring to a boil and stir once.
- Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, mix together the rice vinegar, agave nectar and salt – warm up the mixture slightly (I used the microwave) and ensure that it has all mixed together consistently.
- Remove from heat and let the rice stand in the covered pot for 10 minutes.
- Place hot rice in a large (preferably wide and shallow) glass bowl – make the sure the bowl is not metal.
- Toss the rice gently with the vinegar mixture with a plastic or wooden spoon.
I’m not going to go through a tutorial of how I rolled the sushi, but we had a large variety of items to fill the rolls with. We made a spicy “tuna” roll by crumbling the Hot and Spicy flavor of Tofu Life tofu and mixing in some Sriracha – it was one of my favorite combos. We also had our broccoli tempura, avocado, plain tofu, sweet potato and daikon to mix in to various combinations.
We also tried making some rolls with Soy Wraps – these colourful wraps were easily to work with and gave a bit of variety to the rolls – they were especially helpful when we ran out of rice (the rolls weren’t as pretty, but tasted just fine).