Monday, January 28, 2008
A Special Japanese Meal
Giving cooking lessons is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. Not only because I am passing along my passion for food, but also because the people who have walked into my house as students have left as friends. Food creates an incredible bond, and even though I knew that before, it became even more evident after I started giving my lessons. The choosing of ingredients, the preparation of the meal, the joy of sitting down to something incredibly tasty which we've made together, and all the wonderful chats that take place in between, have always left me with a smile on my face and a sense of fulfillment.
Shortly before Christmas, Yukiko, my Japanese student, came over to make a pumpkin stew, muffins and pepernoten. Yukiko is a pleasure to work with. She knows quite a lot about food herself and she always delights me with her stories about Japanese food and culture. During our first meeting, I expressed an interest in learning to cook authentic Japanese food. I shamefully admitted that this was one area in which I felt completely lost and I told her about the 'Japanese' meals I've cooked in the past- which in fact, weren't really Japanese.
In between our baking, Yukiko reached into her bag and pulled out a beautifully wrapped, bright pink present. I was surprised and overwhelmed by her generosity. Under that pink paper was a gorgeous book of authentic Japanese food, by none other that the 'Nigella' of Japan, Harumi Kurihara. I immediately dug into the book, grinning and noticing how every page was an utter example of culinary refinement- one of the reasons I find the Japanese kitchen so special.
This weekend I decided to make Gyudon, a Japanese meal of beef strips simmered in wine, soy sauce and mirin, usually served at lunch. Yukiko tells me that Gyudon is normally accompanied by miso soup and pickles, but I served it with some steamed wild spinach and it was delicious. The meat had a touch of sweetness and a lightness on the palate which I especially enjoyed. An extra bonus was the fact that the dish did not call for a speck of fat! So, very friendly on the hips as well, which is never a bad thing.
Once again, I want to thank Yukiko for her thoughtfullness and generosity. We thouroughly enjoyed our Japanese meal!
Here's the recipe:
- 500g onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 200ml white
- 100ml water
- 500g thinly sliced beef strips
- 150ml soy sauce
- 150ml mirin
- 4 tbsps sugar
- cooked white rice and pickles, to serve
1. Bring the wine and water to the boil and add the beef. Allow it to simmer for a 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the soy sauce, the mirin and the sugar. Cover and let this cook gently for a few more minutes.
3. Remove the lid, add the onions and let it cook for approximately 2-3 more minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
4. Serve over white rice and drizzle with a little of the cooking juices.