I love Japanese food. The light, subtle, salty flavours and the exotic, mysterious taste combinations often see me choosing a Japanese restaurant as my cuisine of choice. Miso soup, sushi, tofu and difficult to pronounce chicken and fish dishes all add to the intrigue and delight of the menu.
Until recently, Japanese food, for me, has only been something I order when I am out. It seemed way too complicated and different to be able to cook it in my own kitchen. I wouldn’t know where to start and I presumed that the ingredient list would be daunting and confusing.
That was until a few weeks ago, when I partook in a basic Japanese cooking class with knowledgeable long time Japanese chef, Kyoko Seta.
Kyoko is the founder and instructor at Shikisai, Japanese Cooking Classes. Shikisai translates as “the colour of the four seasons” Seasons! Perfect! It was meant to be.
Kyoko has run the kitchen in a well-regarded Japanese restaurant in Perth for many years. Now, she is passing on her passion and skills in her fun, informative and delicious cooking classes.
The classes are run from the kitchen at Cook’s Cookout in Victoria Park. The kitchen is commercial and clean with a lot of stainless steel features. As soon as I entered I knew this was a proper cooking class, none of that sit around and drink wine malarkey. We were there to cook and to learn.
The classes are small and intimate, ours consisted of 4 participants plus Kyoko and her assistant. The kitchen wouldn’t fit many more which is good as a small group means there is a lot of opportunity to taste the food, get up to the stove and to ask questions. We were positioned at stations with a chopping board, knife and several utensils. These classes are hands-on and full of information.
The class I did was called ‘Basic Japanese Cooking’ which is a fantastic place to start. It began with us learning about Japanese ingredients and some basic kitchen skills. We then witnessed and helped with the making of 4 types of Miso soup; at different stages we were encouraged to taste.
Next we made our own Nikujaga; a delicious soup made with vegetables and beef and a special Japanese stock. We also made Agedashi Tofu, Teriyaki chicken and Teriyaki fish. The whole time Kyoko was explaining what we were doing and she gave alternative options if people are vegan or have allergies. Kyoko added ingredients like soy or mirin and as she did she encouraged us to taste the food saying that the best way to learn is to taste. She was right, the subtle differences in flavour were more pronounced when directly compared.
Shikisai offers several different cooking classes such as sushi classes, a deep frying class, vegan and vegetarian classes as well as advanced classes to build upon skills already learnt. Classes cost $130 for three hours. I am going to do the sushi class next. I am hooked!
Much to my husband’s delight, we were given the food we’d cooked to take home with us. So as well as an enjoyable day, you also get dinner provided for that evening. Win, win.
All in all, it was a very informative three hours and I left armed with several recipes which I have since made at home in my own kitchen. I learnt that the scary ingredients are mostly now available in mainstream shops and those strange and exotic flavours actually come from a base recipe of a few ingredients, which you then build on and adapt for each particular dish. So, as it turns out, Japanese cooking is not as mysterious or complicated as I first thought. It is however just as delicious.
Having said that, Japanese cooking does require certain techniques, tips and tricks which are best learnt from a master at the craft which Kyoko certainly is. The recipes we learnt were fun, practical and easily translate to the real world. They just require a bit of knowledge and a curious spirit.
Kyoko, who is a mother, stressed that Japanese cooking, like all cooking, takes time and care. “How much you care is how good your food will be” she said, “It’s like bringing up kids, More care, better kids.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Arigato to Kyoko and Shikisai Cooking Classes. I’ll see you again soon.
Check out our scrolling gallery below for more pics of our fun day!
The link to the website is here:
Shikisai Japanese Cooking Classes.