A crash course in vegan Japanese cooking
I attended another great PCC Cooks class last night, Shojin Japanese Cuisine at PCC Greenlake. Think fragrant rice peppered with hunks of tasty burdock root (Gobo Takikomi Gohan), Deep-fried tofu cake and daikon stew (Hiryozu To Daikon No Nimono) and fresh, crisp daikon and carrot salad with sweet vinegar (Namasu). We learned to cook vegan dishes with four different sea vegetables and three different mushrooms, learned a better way to slice gobo, and, best of all, got to devour a soothing, rich, creamy vegetable one-pot dish simmered in soy milk broth (TonyuNabe). Umami? Ooh la la!
Our instructor, Kanako Koizumi, taught us to coax delicious flavor from all these pure ingredients. Turns out, this is the prime time of year to cook with fresh daikon (a Japanese radish), which is at its best. She brandished a beautiful organic specimen from our produce department and pointed to its root tip. That's the spicy part, best for grating into salads or as a garnish. She pointed to its top. That's the sweetest section, but also the toughest, best for soups, stews and other long-cooking recipes. Good to know!
Kanako-san beamed as she introduced another treasure from our produce department that she says is tough to find fresh in these parts: maitake (sometimes labeled maetake) mushrooms, each one a symphony of savory ruffles. Maitake translates as "so good, they make you want to dance" she told us. My taste buds definitely did.
Do you have a favorite PCC Cooks instructor or class you'd like to recommend to others? So far, I've learned great Thai recipes from Pranee Halvorsen and crafted a trio of rich autumn soups with Olaiya Land. I can't wait until my knife skills class next week with Seppo Farrey.