Not far from Wimbledon Park tube station sits a house where Reiko Hashimoto-Lambert lives and where she’s been giving Hashi Cooking classes in Japanese cooking for the past 10 years. I first read about these cookery classes on Luiz’s blog The London Foodie where he described the wonderful dishes so typical of Japanese home cooking that he learned and though I wasn’t looking for cooking classes at the time, the information stuck in my head. When Luiz then invited me along to a special cooking class that he was organising for bloggers to learn about the classes and about Japanese cooking, then well, by golly, sign me up!
And so last Wednesday, I found myself in Wimbledon in Reiko’s beautiful kitchen along with five other bloggers: Gastrogeek, Gourmet Chick, Greedy Diva, Kavey Eats, and The Wine Sleuth, all excellent company during the class. We six were taking part, though lovely Luiz was also there as Reiko’s assistant for the lesson. Normally her classes have up to eight participants, which to me is still a good number – we all still had many chances to speak one-on-one with Reiko. Reiko herself is lots of fun and really puts you at ease in the classes, just in case you’re nervous.
We started at 7pm and were given notes about the recipes we’d be making as well as crib notes on Japanese ingredients and where to purchase them in London. We would be making four dishes – four?! I can barely make 2 or 3 in a night and there were eight of us altogether! It’s quite inspiring that one can push out four dishes suitable for a dinner party in such a short amount of time. Menus for her classes can be found on her website and in our case, the menu was put together with dishes spanning a number of the class levels (I’ve indicated the class levels below).
Preparation of the dishes overlapped one another based on the need for marination or cooling but I found everything to be very well organised and we never experienced any confusion between the dishes. The classes themselves are mainly demonstration but when it comes to the really tricky parts, then we got to take part too. Always best to learn by example and at this class, it was folding the gyoza and boy, did we fold a fair few! And of course, everything we learned to make, we also learned to eat; those four courses made up our dinner that night.
We started with the seared fillet of beef with creamy sesame sauce (a Gourmet level recipe), which was a real lesson in plating for me. It was absolutely gorgeous and tasted equally fabulous with the tender beef, the creamy sauce and the sharpness of the shredded shallots underneath. The best part is that it looks much more difficult to make than it is!
Moving on, we learned to fold gyoza (part of the Beginner’s menu) and these were then panfried and steamed and served to us. Tasty little morsels they definitely were and Reiko’s taught me to push the frying of gyoza and potstickers just that little bit further to get them extra crispy.
Reiko’s signature dish, and one she teaches in the Gourmet level, is the grilled scallops on sushi rice with creamy spicy sauce. Sashimi grade scallops and tobiko sit on sushi rice and the lot is topped with a mildly spicy mayonnaise before being grilled. It’s creamy and fresh and the various textures in the dish really work together well. This really reminded me of the motoyaki I first tried in Vancouver – mayonnaise and seafood can be a winning combination!
The final dish was cold noodles with spicy aubergines (from the Master Chef level). I love aubergines and I love noodles so this could never go wrong – but it was quite different from what I’m used to. The noodles were boiled and cooled, topped with deep fried aubergine sticks, and served in a cool dashi based broth. This was so refreshing and I picture it being perfect on a hot summer’s day.
Thank you so much again, Reiko, for the lesson and to Luiz too for organising this special bloggers get together. Overall, I did learn quite a bit – new dishes and new ways of plating – and it was fun! I’m counting my pennies in the hopes that I can attend another set of classes there! Vouchers for the classes are also available and I reckon they’d make a terrific gift for any Japanese food lover. All details of classes, prices, menus, vouchers, etc, can be found on the website. Reiko also has a cookbook coming out next year!
All my photos from the night can be found in this Flickr photoset.
(and apart from the cookery classes, Reiko also caters.)
Oh, and I’ve been profiled over on Krista’s blog Londonelicious today. Do hop on over and take a look! Thanks, Krista!