Writing about what feeds me.
Nothing beats cooking with friends: watching their process, learning new ingredients, techniques and approaches, and simply being inspired to try some of it yourself.
This past Saturday I had the delightful pleasure of assisting my friend, Lee-anne and her husband, Dan, with the preparation of a full-out Japanese-inspired dinner for five, including dessert! I will be emailing her for the recipes, but for now, I will just post up some pics and a few descriptions that will undoubtedly NOT do the meal justice. =P
My first task was to thinly cut (more or less jullienne) carrots and Japanese gobo root for a small side salad. These were boiled in a pot with a special sauce consisting of sesame, mirin, and other ingredients. This was done until the sauce almost fully evaporated.
Most of the “cooking” actually involved preparing a lot of different things for what would eventually be a rather quick finale of boiling and sauteeing so that everything would be done at the same time. Lee-anne did a great job orchestrating it all considering she had only made each of these dishes once before in her previous cooking classes – I was very impressed!
Yup, I was right. The photos don’t do the meal justice at all, but here’s basically what it amounted to:
– tomato, egg-drop soup
– gobo & carrot side salad with a mayo & japanese mustard dressing
– baby bok choy & bacon sauteed in oyster sauce
– boiled chicken breasts carved and laid on top of a bed of steamed bean sprouts and green onion with a toasted sesame sauce poured on top.
Now… dessert. I can’t even describe to you what this was like. I’m usually not a sweets person (although my sweet tooth HAS developed a bit as I grow older), but let me tell you that we all had to try SO hard not to eat this entire cake…
Most of my friends, I assume, know what mochi is. Well, this was a full pan of baked mochi with sweet bean paste blotted randomly inside. The crust was the best part, but we still ate way more than our share of pieces; coupling it with mango and black sesame ice cream or dipping it in maple syrup (haha Dan’s idea!!). Oh, man… HEAVEN! =)
And of course – cause Lee-anne is cool like that, she had pinot grigio that she ‘made’ herself at a local winery. It was quite good!
Forreals, ya’ll… I can’t wait to make some of this stuff myself. The meal was very light, but so tasty and satisfying. I haven’t cooked much Japanese food myself, so this was exactly the kind of experience I needed to inspire me to give it a try. Many, many thanks to Lee-anne and her beautiful family for having me over and kicking off my break so wonderfully.