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Sake and other beverages

Answering Questions is a very sporadic series where I attempt to answer some of the backlog of questions I receive via email, via Facebook, or in comments to unrelated posts, the answers for which may be of interest to a broader audience. I’ve taken out any personal details and so on in the questions. Today I am answering some questions about Japanese ingredients, especially as they relate to the upcoming Japanese Cooking 101 course.

Nanohana no ohitashi

This month's Japanese Kitchen column in the Japan Times is about a quintessential early spring vegetable called nanohana. There's even a very well known children's song about it.

Japanese Cooking 101: The Fundamentals of Washoku

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The response to Bento 101, my introductory course to the basics of bento lunch making, has been overwhelmingly positive. So I've decided to follow it up with another structured online course titled Japanese Cooking 101: The Fundamentals of Washoku. We'll be conducting it here on Just Hungry since it's about general cooking methodology rather than specific to bentos.

Description

As you may already know, the cooking that goes on in Japan is roughly divided into 4 cuisine types: Washoku, yohshoku (or yoshoku), chuuka, and everything else. The first three, washoku (which means "Japanese food"), yohshoku (meaning "western food" see a description of yohshoku) and chuuka (Chinese food) comprise most of what Japanese people cook for themselves every day. And of these washoku, which comprises what's considered traditional Japanese food, is the most important to learn if you want to master Japanese cooking, since it forms the foundation for everything else that goes on in the Japanese kitchen.

In this course you'll about the fundamental building blocks of washoku and Japanese cooking. After completion you should be able to tackle Japanese recipes with a lot more understanding and ease. It may even help you to recognize the difference between good and not-so-good Japanese food when you eat out.

Format

During this 5 part course, we'll be making 5 dishes: rice, soup, and three okazu - the foods that go with rice. (There may be some variations to each item too.) Each dish will teach you specific skills and flavor combinations that are used all the time in Japanese cooking. And as a bonus, at the end you'll have a "full course" Japanese meal that you can serve proudly to anyone, even your Japanese friends, with the knowledge that it's pretty authentic.

Will it cost me anything?

Nope. Just like Bento 101, it will be free.

Requirements (or, is this course for you?)

  • Because I want to teach you what "real, authentic" Japanese food should taste like, you will be required to purchase some ingredients that are fundamental to the cuisine. While I usually offer ideas for substitutions and so on in my recipes, for this course we won't be doing that. This does require you to make an initial investment in some foods that may be rather expensive or hard to get, depending on where you live. If that is an issue for budgetary or other reasons, then this course may not be for you.
  • Unlike Bento 101, the focus of Japanese Cooking 101 will be entirely on cooking and cooking techniques. You should take this course only if you're seriously interested in Japanese food, and in cooking in general.
  • You should know your way around the kitchen. You don't have to be an expert, but you should know how to wield a kitchen knife, cook something simple on the stove, and so on.
  • However, I am going to assume that participants have no prior knowledge of how to cook Japanese food. I'll be explaining what each ingredient is, and how it's used, in detail. So it may be a bit too basic and tedious for people who have been making Japanese food for a while.
  • You'll need access to a computer or some way of getting online of course. If you want to share your results visually, you should have a camera or camera phone etc.
  • The meal we'll be creating will contain meat and fish products, so it may not suit you if you're a vegetarian, although you may find some techniques useful.
  • Since two alcoholic products, sake and mirin, are fundamental to washoku, if you have any reasons for avoiding alcohol in cooking this course may not be for you.
  • Last but not least, you'll get the very most out of this course if you follow every lesson in sequence and do each assignment. I estimate that it will require about 2 hours of your time per week.

Start date and duration

  • We'll start the week of March 4th (right after Bento 101 wraps up)
  • The course will go on for 4 to 5 weeks, and consist of 6 lessons with at least 5 cooking assignments.

Where do I sign up?

There's no formal sign up process. Just follow along when we start in March!

So there you have it. Interested? Questions? Let me know! I'll post the required materials and so on later this week.

(ETA: I inadvertently deleted the original announcement post - and more than 150 or so of your comments under it! :( If you asked a question or something and don't see it, please try re-posting your comment.)

Filed under:  japanese washoku cooking courses japanesecooking101

A single perfect chocolate truffle

This is my second year of being a type 2 diabetic - my surgeries and other cancer treatments having somehow pushed me over the edge from the prediabetic range. Although diabetes is a very widespread disease (more than 100 million Americans are diagnosed with type 2 or pre-diabetes, a staggering number), many people have no idea what it's like to live with it, and how diabetics keep it under control. Yes, us diabetics do have to be careful about our sugar intake, or anything that makes our blood glucose levels spike. But for most of us, unless we are at a very serious level, manage to live with it pretty well.

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About Buyee, a new auction-bidding and buying service in Japan, plus an update on my ordering-stuff-from-Japan habits.

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Iron Chef Japan has been cancelled already, according to reports in Japan. :(

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Napping

It's been a while, but here's another Sketch Diary entry.

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Two documentary films that show the importance of sushi, and pastry, in their respective cultures.

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This year's New Year's feast back home in Japan was taken over by the next generation of women in our family.

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About kamaboko, the humble, rubbery fish cake that is ubiquitous at this time of year, but is also eaten year-round.

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