“A lot of people in Chennai have been asking me to teach them basic Japanese recipes''

Stir until the ‘Miso' (Soybean paste) is well dissolved in water. It is best not to boil the ‘Miso' as this will ruin some of its healthy properties and change its flavour. Bring water to a slow simmer and add ‘wakame' seaweed and ‘tofu.' You could also relish it with cooked cabbage and radish, but you have it with chopsticks and not spoons. Welcome to the world of high-protein, healthy Japanese cuisine.

It was a gourmet's delight, and a unique experience for every food lover to know about influences of cultures and cuisines at the cultural programme, ‘Introduction to Japanese cuisine' hosted here on Friday. The programme, conducted by Lan Minagawa, wife of Consul-General of Japan, Kazuo Minagawa had around 50 Indian and expat participants exploring different aspects of Japanese cuisine.

The ‘Nabemono' and ‘Sashimi' might be known as the representatives of Japanese cuisine, but alongside them also exists the humble bowl of rice and the heritage of simple country cooking and farming, which were brought out in the programme in a detailed visual presentation. The participants were acquainted with the basic recipes and ingredients of Japanese cuisine that are integral to its culture.

The ladies were then taught to roll ‘Sushi' in different shapes with different fillings. An assortment of dishes served on legged trays, raw seafood cut with a very sharp knife as a distinguishing feature of native cuisine and principal seasonings including fermented soybean and rice products formed the elaborate banquet.

Placed on plates and bowls that harmonised with the ambience, next to bamboo rolling mats the recipes vied for attention with its distinct aroma of indigenous spices. ‘Japanese Green Tea' Ms. Minagawa said, is an important aspect of Japanese history and lifestyle. Boiling water can kill the flavour and the colour, she explained, as she poured ‘not-so-hot' water on small leaves that opened gently, releasing the locked essence of green tea leaves that are harvested and steamed the same day to retain the natural flavour.

Ms. Minagawa, who is from Vietnam, has been cooking Japanese food for 16 years now, added “A lot of people in Chennai have been asking me to teach them basic Japanese recipes, these simple food items can be a good attraction at home parties.”

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012