Let’s face it, a lot of cookery classes can be a bit of a let down can’t they? Far too often you have all the exciting, fun bits done for you, while you’re left feeling more than a little bit patronised and relegated to stir, perhaps. Like some sort of small child, “your” finished dish is praised and cooed over, even though you both know that you haven’t really made it at all.
Thankfully, the Hashi cooking class is nothing like this. Yes, some of the stuff is prepped (after all, you’d be there all night otherwise) but there is an immediate feeling of engagement and passion – I came away feeling like I’d genuinely learnt something new and useful. In Reiko’s beautiful Wimbledon kitchen, along with Su-Lin, Carly, Kavey , Cara , Denise and Luiz Hara (her trusty assistant for the evening) I learnt how to shape gyoza correctly (instead of my usual Cornish pasty type creations), how to balance flavours and the best place in London for sashimi-grade fish (Atari-ya). We cooked up a garlicky beef tataki with creamy sesame sauce, some of the finest gyoza I’ve had in the West, zaru soba with velvety spicy aubergine and her signature dish of scallops with creamy spicy sauce on sushi rice. All this was washed down with copious amounts of green tea and a selection of fine wines to match, lovingly chosen by @winesleuth.
Reiko is an excellent teacher; she has that brilliant knack of making you feel at ease and undaunted, as though you were cooking with a friend, and her classes are never any larger than 6 people. Her respect for Japanese flavour principles sprinkled with cheeky little imaginative touches (the scallop dish and her miso ice cream in particular) are just an absolute joy. I’ve recreated some of the recipes since the class and they’ve been a resounding success. But more importantly, I’ve found that her class has really inspired me to look at Japanese food in a much more experimental and unstructured way – the other night for example, I came up with the idea of making miso salmon handrolls with sweet chilli and tobiko mayonnaise – with some seriously tasty results (even if I do say so myself). Now I’m not sure that’s something you can really put a price on. Highly recommended.
Scallops with Creamy Spicy Sauce on Sushi Rice
680g/3 cups of prepared sushi rice
4 large scallops or 8 small ones (sashimi grade)
4 tsp flying fish roe (tobiko)
2 tsp shredded fresh nori
1 lime or lemon
for the creamy spicy sauce
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
a little white pepper
3 tsp rice vinegar
150 ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp chilli paste or Toh Ban Joh (Chinese chilli bean paste)
- Make the sauce by beating the egg yolks in a bowl, and adding the sea salt, white pepper and rice vinegar. Gradually beat in the oil a little at a time, ensuring it doesn’t split. Once you’ve reached a mayonnaise-like consistency, stir in the chilli sauce.
- Extract the scallops from their shells and remove the beards and innards. Rinse the scallops in cold water and drain. Reserve the shells, and scrub thoroughly. Cut the scallops into rough chunks.
- Brush the insides of the shells with a little vegetable oil to prevent the rice from sticking. Distribute the rice evenly between the shells.
- Cover the rice with the shredded nori and cover this with the tobiko. Put the scallop chunks on top and place each shell on a baking tray.
- Pour the sauce over the top, ensuring that each shell is generously covered. Place the baking tray under a medium hot grill and watch the scallops like a hawk. It’s really important not to overcook them, so whip them out as soon as they turn golden brown.
- Place the shells on the plates and serve with the lemon or lime wedges on the side (if the shell is a bit wobbly, sprinkle a mound of salt underneath to secure).
Private tuition starts at £120 for one person, and then goes up by £60 per additional person to a maximum of 6 people in total. Click here for further deets. I paid nothing because Luiz Hara very kindly invited me along – many thanks to Reiko and Luiz.