The Japanese Way

-Binita Adhikari

 Cooking at home can get experimental but most people don’t actually dare to try their hands at making Japanese dishes. And, it was proved at the recently held event by healthylife that those who tried have had rather funny experiences. With the theme “Japanese Delights”, the event held on ? at Momotarou Restaurant at Sanepa started on a humorous note as participants—six homemakers—shared their story about cooking Japanese food.


However, after the event, the participants will no longer have the same problem, for Chef Puran Bahadur Chaudhary, who is also the owner of Momotarou, gave them the basics of this particular cuisine and also taught them how to prepare two dishes. Chaudhary is so passionate about Japanese food that after studying about the cuisine, he came back and opened up his Japanese restaurant, which is now located at four places—Civil Mall, Sanepa, Thamel and Pokhara. Chaudhary began the event by explaining about the variety of Japanese food items and their appearance. He then prepared two very simple-to-make and yummy-to-eat dishes, namely, Kappa Maki Sushi and Korokke.


Kappa Maki Sushi

Kappa Maki, a traditional Japanese cucumber roll, is a favored choice at every sushi bar, especially for vegetarians. An ideal appetizer, Kappa Maki can be tried by even those who are not very fond of typical sushi. Give these savory little treats a chance and the good thing is they are rather easy to make at home.


Ingredients
Norrie (black sheet), 300 gm rice (Japanese rice), 75 cc sushi sauce, cucumber 60 gm, wasabi (one tilt), ginger pickle 15 gm (side decoration), goma ae 20 gm, soya sauce (appropriate amount).


Instructions
• Wash the cucumber and peel it (if you feel like).
• Scoop out the seeds and slice the cucumber lengthwise into thin sticks.
• Sprinkle a dash of salt on it.
Lay the Norrie sheets on a bamboo mat or a flat surface and spread a thin layer of warm sushi rice over about 2/3 of it, leaving an edge closest to you uncovered. If necessary, dampen your fingers with vinegar water to spread the rice thinly and evenly. And, while you spread the rice, fan it simultaneously.
Lay a strip of sliced cucumber in the middle of the rice.
Start at the edge nearest to you and carefully roll the Norrie into a long tube. Make sure that the rice doesn’t escape from the sides of the roll.
Cut the Kappa Maki rolls into about 3/4-inches long size. After every cut clean your knife with wet cloth so that rolls will have the perfect shape.
Serve the Kappa Maki rolls with soya sauce and wasabi paste as dips. You even can make side dish like ginger pickle and goma ae.
Ginger pickle (15 gm)
Mix 15 gm ginger slices (mijing geri) with salt, this helps in reducing the strong ginger flavor.
Wash it with vinegar 3 times to remove salt. If you have 100 gm ginger, use 100 gm vinegar.
Take 100 gm sugar, mix it with vinegar and soak the above ginger with it.
Goma ae
Boil spinach with salt
Cut it and mix goma paste
Useful tips
For a good sushi, the rice should be neither overcooked nor undercooked
Remember to tighten the roll with your sushi mat often, but not too tightly
Always use a wet, sharp knife to cut the roll in to little sushi units. Each roll can be cut into six to eight units.
Allow the roll to sit for a minute before cutting it.


Korokke (potato cutlet)

It is not exactly potato cutlet though it looks like one. Korokke is the other Japanese dish which can be made with varieties of ingredients. These are breaded and deep-fried but the Japanese Korokke are breaded in Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and served with Tonkatsu sauce or Soy Sauce and sometimes made into a sandwich (Korokke Sando), so yummy!


Ingredients

Potato 150 gm, butter 1 teaspoon, bread crumbs 50 gm, wheat flour 50 gm, sunflower oil ½ liter, salt (according to taste), black pepper, hondashi 2 gm, soya sauce, carrot, onion.


Preparation
Boil potatoes in a large pan until soft.
Drain and mash potatoes while they are hot.
Saute onion and all other vegetables in a medium skillet for two minutes with butter.
Mix mashed potatoes in the vegetables and cook it for about two minutes and then add milk (30 ml).
Season it with salt, pepper and curry powder.
Then, add one teaspoon of flour and cook it for five minutes.
Cool it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Later, make flat, oval-shaped patties and coat each piece with flour.
Dip in mixture of flour and water. Then, coat the patties with bread crumbs.
Fry in high heat oil until it gets brown. After it gets hardened, cook it on low heat.
It is now ready to be served with Tonkatsu sauce.


Useful tips
You can freeze Korokke for future use.
You can also serve them with kewpie mayonnaise.
Those who are fond of non-vegetarian food can add meat or fish instead of the vegetables.
The leftover Korokke can be used to make sandwich.  Just add shredded cabbage, some Japanese mayonnaise and Tonkatsu sauce.
If you are adding meat, mix it into the mashed potatoes in the bowl. Be sure to get rid of the juice from the meat. The juice will make the mixture too soft and making a nice shape of the patties will be difficult.


Feedbacks
For the participants, the day couldn’t get much better. Along with learning how to cook Japanese cuisine at home, they also got to enjoy delicious delights cooked by an expert like Chef Chaudhary. “For me, making Japanese food at home was out of question; however I really feel I can do it now. It would be a good tiffin option as it is served cold and can also be made beforehand. You simply need to keep it under refrigeration,” shared Tulika Agrawal, an ‘Art of Living’ teacher. Tasneem Shahani, who herself is in the food business, expressed, “I never had any session related to Japanese food till date. Now I know it’s really simple, fast, and even the ingredients are easily available.”


When the participants enquired about the possibility of adding other ingredient in the dishes, the Chef replied, “It is okay if we add non-veg but it has to be minced. And, about the vegetables, it would be better if we don’t add strong vegetable like capsicum.” Japanese cuisine lovers have a nice option in Momotarou Restaurant as they have a wonderful menu at reasonable prices. 
P.S. Momotarou Restaurant uses its own healthy sauce, varieties of noodles, and especially tofu. And, you can buy these as well.`

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