HYPER JAPAN Spring 2012 welcomed a whole host of foodies to the Taste Discovery Zone, sponsored by Kikkoman and S&B, eager to learn more about how to create simple, authentic, Japanese style dishes at home. The ever-affable Atsuko Ikeda was back again this year, with sessions introducing us to yaki udon and wasabi cream, whilst newcomer to the Eat-Japan Food Court Elsa Gleeson took on the dessert menu. For all things sake, Natsuki Kikuya, Eat-Japan’s Executive Sommelier and curator of the Sake Awards, enlightened us with her informative seminars on the delights of Japan’s national drink.
A packed three-day schedule of food and drink saw each session in the aptly named Taste Discovery Zone fully booked. Atsuko Ikeda focused on making the British public a whizz with rice. As a staple of any Japanese kitchen, the rice we use for our forays into Japanese cuisine has to be just right. In Gohan and Onigiri, the opener to the zone’s range of mouth-watering seminars, we learned that Japonica rice with its sticky texture is the grain of choice. (If you want to be able to deftly roll rice into balls for a super quick onigiri snack, wet the palms of your hands first. Seriously, it helps). Next up for rice was Making Sushi. The inside-out maki and temaki were some of the core recipes on show as members of the audience got up to try their hand at a bit of sushi making, adding chopped nuts, herbs and sesame for an extra crunch factor.
Of course Japanese cuisine isn’t all about rice, where would we be without the noodles? Yaki udon, or fried udon noodles (recipe here), with pancetta, ginger and vegetables was diced, sliced and served to lucky participants whilst Japan’s perennial favourites Katsu Kare (recipe here)and Kare Udon (recipe here) were dished up in less than half an hour.
Closing the Taste Discovery Zone was Atsuko’s introduction to Wasabi cream (recipe here). Adding a Japanese inspired twist to your slices of smoked salmon will never be so easy! Mixing S&B’s Wasabi Sauce (milder than wasabi paste) with crème fraiche, radish and herbs creates the perfect accompaniment to salmon, chips and your Sunday barbeque. You can try the recipe here.
HYPER JAPAN welcomed Elsa Gleeson to the Taste Discovery Zone as she took on fried pork marinated in ginger juice in one of Japan’s most loved home-cooked dishes. Butaniku Shoga Yaki is surprisingly easy to prepare and makes a great topping for both rice and udon; try the recipe here.
After all the savouriness there had to be something for the sweet-toothed among us. With her matcha and white chocolate truffles (recipe here), Elsa demonstrated how to impress friends with a simple but expensive looking dessert. In Japan matcha tea, being quite a bitter drink, is accompanied by something sweet. Here, Elsa combined this counterbalance of bitter and sweet in one mouth-full. Combining the rich creamy texture of white chocolate with the bitterness of matcha green tea powder, participants were able to try a rather unique tasting truffle. Elsa also showed us how to make Japan’s ubiquitous dorayaki, or mini sweet pancakes. Adding orange blossom water, cinnamon and vanilla extract to the red bean paste transformed this little pancake into a lightly sweet springtime dessert. Red bean paste is perhaps, as Elsa mentioned, somewhat of an acquired taste, but with this recipe more people will definitely be converted to the delights of dorayaki!