Japanese Umami Feast
5th January 2012
Fresh from his travels in Tokyo, TheLondonFoodie (Luiz) hosted the first of his Japanese Home Supperclubs, to showcase recipes from his travels and from recently published ‘Hashi Cooking’ by Reiko Hashimoto. This was the second Supperclub I attended, that Luiz had hosted, the first being the inaugural Grazing Asia event.
There were no spaces left as a dining guest, but keen to increase my knowledge of this genre of cusine and take part in the event, I volunteered as a Kitchen Assistant for the evening. For diners, this supperclub was £35 per person (BYO), pretty good value considering the calibre and variety of ingredients used.
Welcomed with a glass of wine, by Luiz and Dr. G (Luiz’s partner), I was made at home and what a beautiful home it was. I was particularly impressed with their pantry, divine cooking accoutrements and serviceware.
Looking at all of the plates and bowls lined up, at a guess I’d say there were over a 100 for the 20 dining guests. I knew from this, that a serious feat was about to be performed by Luiz. Having started at 7am, Luiz was supper organised with a timed plan (which we almost stuck to) and had already done a lot of the mise en place. This was essential, as we were catering for 20 hungry diners and had a 6 course feast to be served pre-midnight…
Dainty hand-rolled sushi with sea-bream, mackerel and asparagus. The diners were treated to an accompanying aperitif of Gordon’s Gin & Tonic, which set off the night, with a lemon-twist (I told Dr. G, that lime might make a nice change for next time).
Salmon Sashimi ‘South American way’
Delicate strips of tuna sashimi drizzled with a marinade and served with a sour-cream, wasabi avocado salad.
Spicy Pork with Seafood Nabe
Typically, a one pot dish of seafood and vegetables, that cooks at the table in a claypot. I last tried this is in Laos, so it was great to see it in action again, it adds such drama and fun to the occassion. After the diners has wrestled over the seafood picks, we added some udon noodles, so they could slurp up the remaining cooking juices, which had a good spicy kick.
Beef Fillet Tataki with creamy sesame dressing
Luiz seared the fillets then allowed them to marinade and then delicately sliced and positioned over brined onions. For a supperclub, it was quite a luxury to have fillet. This was possible thanks to The Well Hung Meat Co who donated the meat and generously offered the diners 50% off their first orders.
A mixed rice, bejewelled with 5 ingredients, this was a chicken and vegetable based one, dressed with mange tout chiffonade.
Green beans and Kamaboko with Spicy Mayo
Crunchy beans with a sliced fish cake (Kamaboko) garnish and wok-dressed in a zingy mayonnaise. I really like the contrast of textures, with the crunchy beans, creamy dressing and almost sponge-like fish cake slices.
A beautifully rolled omlette, sweetened with sugar, seasoned with dashi and chives for pretty colouring. This was a real masterpiece, so when it was sliced, almost like a swiss roll, you could see the many delicate layers. Grated mooli and soy sauce were placed on the side.
My favourite of the side dishes, using delicious aubergines. Luiz used the thin variety of aubergine, for faster cooking and also because they soaked up the Nasu Dengaku glaze (with white miso, mirin and sugar) more. They had a gratinated crust made with melted mozzarella and were garnished as with the green beans, with crunchy seasame seeds.
Deep fried Tofu and Spinach Miso Soup
A bubbling bowl of soup, that was great for cleansing at the end of the night.
Ice Cream Trio with Madeleine
The scent of zingy lemon rind madeleines drifted through the room, kindly whisked up and baked fresh by Dr. G.
This was a light and simple accompaniment to the smooth and creamy trio. The flavours were heavenly: Green Tea, Red Bean and Black Seasame. I’ve tried the flavours in various muses as created by Teanamu (when I’ve visited his Tea-House), however the last, was a new one. Luiz created it by making a praline with the black seasame seeds and then adding the brittle to the ice-cream mix, before churning.
I’ll hold my hand up and admit, the evening was ‘hard-work’ not all making up G&T’s and tasting for seasoning (unfortunately!). Alas, now I know that Luiz being a perfectionist, wouldn’t let a mere amateur like myself, scrimp on beautiful plating up or the taste of his dishes going out. Next time, I know I’m best suited on the receiving end and do what I do best… Eating. I wish I had been a fly-on-the wall whilst Luiz had done his mise en place, so that I could pick up tips or learn the recipes. The saving grace was the fact I could always refer to Reiko’s book (a signed copy) and Luiz promised to email his recipes too. This was a Japanese comfort eating at it’s best, really good hearty food, that hit the spot. However, in the kitchen, the execution was somewhat more intricate than usual comfort food and expertly executed by Luiz.
Luiz has kindly invited me back to learn the recipes and sample all the dishes at leisure, so I’m very much looking forward to that experience.To find out more about Luiz’s supper’s or cooking club’s: Luiz’s twitter: @thelondonfoodie Luiz’s website: http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/ Reiko’s Hashi Cooking: http://www.hashicooking.co.uk/