I’ve been to a cooking class Saturday with my sister, a Japanese one !
It was a class to learn how to make a simple and easy bento ?
A bento is basically the Japanese version of a lunchbox, and is mostly composed of many bits of different things rather than one full dish. In this post I’m going to show you some pictures of the class, but I’ll also add the 6 recipes of everything we cooked !
Some ingredients or tools might be a bit difficult to find depending the place you live in, so i’ll add some links where you can find these things online.
The place where we went to was a Japanese Cultural Center, in the 10th district of Paris, called “Espace Japon“
Inside, there was a room full of Japanese books and magazines, that we could go and read freely (Japanese fashion is quite nice by the way) :
And directly on the right of the main room, there was the cooking space where the class took place ! It was an open kitchen, really nice and well ventilated.
The teacher was so kind to print all the recipes for each one of us, and with such a cute little picture on it :
The first recipe we did, was marinated vegetables in a Dashi broth and soy.
❁ Marinated veggies
- lightly cooked veggies, we used brocoli and carrots (only 2 min in boiling water, to keep them crunchy)
- Dashi stock, enough to cover the vegetables
- Soy sauce to taste
- a tablespoon of sugar (less or more according to taste)
The steps :
- Prepare the broth and bring it to a boil. When it boils, stop the heat to let it cool. Then, let it rest all night in the fridge.
- The next day, cook your veggies, and let them cool. When they’re not hot anymore, put them into the stock bowl and let it cool in the fridge for at least one hour.
- Then take them out and drain them when you’re going to place them into your bento !
The next recipe she taught us to do, was lightly fried chicken.
❁ Fried Chicken
- Approximately 300g of Chicken thighs (or any part you prefer)
- two tablespoons of soy sauce
- A tablespoon of sake
- two-three handfuls of flour
- A pinch of salt and pepper
- Some grated ginger and garlic to taste
The steps :
- Put your pieces of chicken into a bowl, and add the soy sauce, sake, salt and pepper, ginger and garlic. Let it rest overnight in the fridge with some clingfilm/plastic wrap on top of the bowl.
- Take the bowl out, and add two or three handfuls of flour, add more or less if needed, it has to be enough to be on every piece of chicken. Mix the flour to distribute the flour, with your hands or cooking chopsticks.
- Heat a pan with sunflower oil (enough to cover the pan), and fry the chicken.
Delicious ! ✨
Just above you can also see the Japanese omelette we made, and that’s the next recipe !
❁ Japanese omelette
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons of dashi stock
- a pinch of sugar
The steps :
- mix the eggs with the ingredients in a bowl
- heat a pan with sunflower oil (not olive oil, since the flavour is too strong
- Now comes the hard part : you need to put half of the egg mixture into the pan, to make a sort of crepe (or a big and flat pancake). After a few seconds, roll it to make an egg tube. push it to the side, and pour some more egg so it touches the first roll.
- when the second egg layer started to cook after a few seconds, roll the first roll onto the second layer, so it rolls itself onto the first roll. It’s kind of complicated, but basically it’s a layered rolled omelette.
- When the eggs are done, cut the roll in half, and shape it with a Bamboo Rolling Mat, the same that is used for sushi rolls
- Last step consists just in cutting the two halves in slices, and serve.
Here you can see my sister, while she gives it a try (under the Japanese teacher’s expert supervision of course)
We’ve already got plenty of things to put in our bento, but we don’t have beef ! Next recipe are beef meatballs !
❁ Japanese Meatballs
- 400g of ground meat, half beef half veal (only beef can be a bit dry)
- Onions to taste
- a bit of milk
- 100g of breadcrumbs
- a bit of rasped potato (to make the texture extra soft)
- Bull Dog Tonkatsu Sauce
- Salt and pepper
For this recipe, if you feel it’s too dry add more milk, and if it’s too soft add more breadcrumbs.
The steps :
- Cook the onions with some oil in a pan until they are soft and brown.
- mix the meat into a bowl with the onions, milk, breadcrumbs, potato, salt and pepper, and shape the meatballs.
- place them into a hot pan with oil or butter.
- When they are brown on both sides, take the heat down to low, and cover the pan up with something (like with another pan for example) for 15-20 minutes.
- Last step : put a bit of Bull Dog and Ketchup sauce into the pan, and mix it up with the meatballs. Done !
One of the very easy recipes, are the octopus hot dogs. I love those because they are extreeemely simple to make, yet they look so cute !
❁ Octopus hot dogs
- Hot dogs
- Cherry tomatoes (optional)
The steps :
- Take your hot dogs out of the pack, and cut each one in three pieces.
- Cut some little legs with a knife, on one side of the hot dog
- Cook them on a pan with some oil, until they get a bit grilled brown parts
- Last optional step : take some cherry tomatoes and a toothpick, and sit your little octopus on it !
And finally, last but not least (I’m not sure if many people use this expression, but I like it for some reason), onigiri ! Onigiri is basically a rice ball shaped as a triangle, and mostly wrapped in nori seaweed (the same you use for sushi rolls). In Japan you can find so many kinds of different flavored onigiri, it’s the equivalent of a good old sandwich for them.
The ingredients :
- Japanese rice (it sticks better)
- Nori seaweed sheets
- Any seasoning you want (we used Japanese dried basil)
- A bamboo mat
The steps :
- Cook the rice. If you don’t have any rice cooker, follow the instructions on the rice pack.
- Shape your onigiri, trying to make a triangle. Put a bit of pressure on the rice so it doesn’t dismantle itself, and roll the onigiri to shape every corner with your top hand. Your hands should look like that :
- wrap it up with some nori sheet, and fold the sides
- Then you can sprinkle any seasoning you like on top of it. Be creative ! it’s plain rice, so any flavor will do, like sesame seeds, paprika, dried herbs, or any dry seasoning you might have in your county.
And that’s the end of all the recipes we made !
All there was left, was to take a bit of everything and arrange it in a cute way. The teacher gave us some compartmentalized bento boxes and cute little cupcake holders to separate the food :
I ate it back home and gave some of it to Victor so he can taste it too, it was really so flavorful and delicious !
I’m so happy I took this class, and I would like to thank a lot the teacher for teaching all of this to us (I already did of course, but I’m doing it again here !).
I’ll try to make it all again at home.
I hope you enjoyed this post !
What do you think about these recipes ? Do you know Japanese cuisine ?