age fuku-bukuro (front right), miso soup (right rear, covered), komatsuna shira-ae (center rear), pickles (left rear)
On April 5th, I took a cooking class at Taste of Culture, Elizabeth Andoh’s cooking school in Tokyo. The subject of the class was “Cooking with Tofu.” The menu included a large variety of tofu dishes: Age fuku bukuro (simmered tofu pouches stuffed with chicken and vegetables), komatsuna hitashi with tofu shira-ae (marinated komatsuna with tofu-miso dressing), unohana (simmered okara, the lees from tofu making, with vegetables), tofu dengaku, miso soup, myoga pickles, nuka pickles, and rice with mixed grains.
age fuku-bukuro: closing the pouches – tying with kampyo – covering the pan with an otoshi buta
My favorite dish was the age fuku-bukuro. We started with large abura age, fried tofu pockets. We blanched to pockets to remove the excess oil and help puff the air inside. Next, we split and opened the pockets and stuffed them with a mixture of ground chicken and vegetables (gobo (burdock), renkon (lotus root), carrot, and shirataki). Then we tied the bundles closed with softened kampo strips and simmered them in seasoned dashi. These seemed like they would be a great make-ahead item for a picnic lunch or dinner.
komatsuna bundled before blanching (left) and marinating (right) – komatsuna shira-ae – tofu dengaku
Another dish that we made that I really liked was the komatsuna ohitashi with shira-ae. The komatsuna was blanched and marinated. It can be eaten just like that, but we also made a delicious miso and tofu sauce to put on top. We also made unohana, sweet simmered okara (the lees from making tofu) with vegetables, and tofu dengaku, broiled tofu with miso sauce. We finished our meal with miso soup and three types of pickles: nuka pickled turnips and carrots and shiso-vinegar pickled myoga.
unohana – pulling cucumber and turnip pickles from the nuka pot
Finally, we set our trays with dishes and prepared to eat. The tray is set up with rice in the front left and miso in the back right. The hashi (chopsticks) are placed at the front of the tray on the hashioki (chopstick rest) with the tips facing to the left.
a proper place setting
I really enjoyed the small class size (five students) and the opportunity to learn from a really knowledgeable teacher. We got a recipe packet to take with us, but we learned so much more than what was in the packet. I have already tried making the age fuku-bukuro and komatsuna shira-ae at home, and I am excited to try some more soon.