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:

Serves 4

- 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.


Gloria said...

Que rico se ve esto Paola, siempre me ha intrigado la comida japonesa que sè que es muy buena. Cariños xxxGloria

Lisa said...

What a lovely and thoughtful gift! Your classes and burgeoning friendships sound wonderful!

Sandy said...

The dish looks wonderful. And what a lovely gift.

Yukiko said...

The dish looks teriffic!!
I hope your family enjoyed it as well. Adding spinach is a great idea. I will add it to mine too.

annauk said...

Ooh, yum! This sounds so wonderful Paola!
Good for you doing cooking lessons, and how nice to gain friends this way.

Paola said...

Thanks ladies,

It is a pleasure indeed. One of my dreams now is to open up a real cooking school. Who knows!

Yukiko, thanks! We loved the dish and like I said, I will try another recipe soon!


Beatriz's suitcase contents said...

Paola, I do not have your e-mail address, and this is my only way to let you know that I "challenged" you to come up with a recipe for World Nutella Day. You can read it all in my blog. By the way, you can contact me at: beatrymacias at yahoo dot com. See you around.

Kelly-Jane said...

It's lovely to hear of your new culinary adventures :) Your dish looks so yummy!


The Cooking Ninja said...

I love Japanese food. Will have to try it out soon.

Beatriz's suitcase contents said...

Paola, it is me again! I came back to let you know that "you make my day"
Follow the link to find out about it.

Anonymous said...

That looks wonderful Paola and what a super gift.

I hope one day you realise your cookery school dream, I'm sure you will. You are very inspirational.

George xx

Paola said...

Thanks guys!

Beatriz, I'm SO, SO flattered! :):)

George, I wish you the same!! Good luckn wih all your future culinary plans!