Culver City, CA
January 15, 2015
Emceed by Nobuko Kondo-Calisher and Chef Carol Cotner Thompson
Hosted by Kristopher Miller of JETRO
For an LA foodie on the make, it is easy to have an amazing and delicious experience front row at the New School of Cooking in Culver City for a live cooking demo. Hosted by JETRO (Japanese External Trade Organization) which promotes global opportunities for Japanese business’ and smashing food events like this. Surrounded by fellow food-lovers, we watched as Chef Carol Thompson skillfully prepared each dish. The afternoon’s gracious and cheerful emcee, Nobuko Kondo-Calisher, announced each dish and explained essential product details as course after course was served. Three courses of Japanese dishes inspired by European culinary traditions re-awakened an appreciation for time, food prep and elegant convenience with delicious Hokkaido products and simple, authentic ingredients from Japan. The presentation and flavors of each dish beautifully incorporated the structure and pure flavors of regional Japanese foods with the richness of European cuisine.
The crowd of guests was greeted by members of JETRO in both Japanese and English, politely answering all questions and guiding everyone to tables for tasting, pictures and discussion. The event combined a user-friendly presentation of foods and cooking techniques, place settings for each guest laid out with the Hokkaido foods catalog and complemented by samples of pure and refreshing Den’s Organic Teas, including classics like Sencha green tea, Genmaicha green tea and Matcha. By following a simple post-meal Japanese tradition, I found the warm, fragrant cup of green tea a soothing way to complete this culinary experience.
Hokkaido Yamato Foods and products offered a wide range of products and food for everyday meals like lunch and dinner for family, an elegant meal or snack elevated by quality, exceptional flavors and simple, fast options for modern meal prep. My favorite was definitely the rich, creamy sweet corn soup and with lemon-dressed dungeness scallion garnish
The Courses: Well thought out and planned, served first was a silken, sweet corn soup topped with Dungeness crab, brightened with Meyer lemon juice, lemon zest and fresh green scallions. Second course was a combination of braised short rib cooked in amazing Ebara Ohgon No Aji “Mild” BBQ sauce with wasabi mashed potatoes, served next to a tender Japanese style meatball made with ginger, panko and Ebara Ohgon No Aji “Hot” BBQ sauce and garnished with Hokkai Yamato Wasabi Furikake, giving it a nice crisp-crunch texture and contrasting flavor to balance the rich meatiness. Final course was a panna cotta flavored with green tea syrup and garnished with fresh bites of tender fruit and crisp Pocky-inspired chocolate cookie bites.
Furikake is a favorite seasoning for those of both traditional and contemporary Japanese, a sort of multi-purpose table seasoning used to flavor foods like steaming bowl of rice or soup, top a piece of roasted or grilled meat or fish, or function as a quick garnish.
Vegetarian Question: How can these dishes best be prepared and offered using vegetables and non-meat options? For many folks who like good Japanese food minus the ubiquitous meat-on-plate, this is an easy fix. Add the possible and delicious option of grilled or sautéed tofu, Japanese eggplant or Kabocha squash with the Ebara Ohgon No Aji “Mild” BBQ sauce and enjoy to your heart’s content.
Overall, JETRO had this event down and everyone really got into the culinary spirit of cooking, tasting and reviewing the wonderful, tasty and beautifully prepared dishes, Hokkaido products and gracious kitchen-away-from-home to at the New School of Cooking. Definitely looking forward to the next demo.
Thank you to JETRO and to the New School of Cooking!