Sunday, November 6, 2011

On why in the end and after all I really like the deutsche bahn and what this has to do with Japanese cuisine

The deutsche bahn and I, we are certainly no match made in heaven. The trains I am in are always late. Or they don't run at all. Or the heating doesn't work. Last winter was especially bitter. There was a lot of snow, sure, but it's not like it has never snowed before in Germany. So I really don't take 5 inches of snow as an excuse for cancelling our train on the day before Christmas, making us jump another train 2 hours later and which then on the way would almost collapse making us arrive even later.
BUT. Yepp, there is a but: the good thing about this odyssey was the fact that deutsche bahn paid a refund. All in all, me and my sister got back 60 euros. Now, I don't live by a lot of rules, but one of those few I stick to goes like this: If you get money back, money that has actually already been spent and thus does not necessarily have to go into any new calculations then you should - no have to - do something fun with that money instead of spending it on something useful such as paying your electricity bill. That is why we decided to spend that money at Sasaya, probably the best Japanese restaurant in Berlin but also one that is on the pricier side of life. 
And therefore, I actually have to thank deutsche bahn for making their trains run late and thus giving me the opportunity to experience (and fall in love with) Japanese cuisine!
Unfortunatley, I don't take the train too often and thus also don't get too much money back which is why I decided that it would be cheaper to learn how to prepare Japanese food!

I enrolled in a one-evening class at Goldhahn & Sampson, with Kaoru Iriyama, a delightful Japanese living in Berlin. She had had the chance to undergo some month of training in the kitchen of Hirohisa Koyama who just so happens to be the master of Japanese cuisine and the ched of the Japanese emperor.
Kaoru both knows everything about the cutting techniques which play a very important role in Japanese cuisine, and she also gave us a brilliant lecture on which products to buy, what days you could buy fresh Tofu in which store in Berlin and which products come wihtout msg.

She explained every dish in detail, showed us how to prepare it and it was a true pleasure watching her because the way she treats the products really showed how much she values them and how much she likes to turn them into a great dish.

Just look at her hands in the pictures and you will notice that she treats every product with utmost care.

These were Kaoru's knives from Japan. She cleans and sharpens them every day in the evening. I really need to buy a decent knife very soon. Christmas present, anyone??

The first dish we made was Dashimaki-Tamago, which translates into rolled omelette which we had with snow-radish. It was a great appetizer and I wonder if I can ever have a boring ordinary European-style Omelette again.

Next we prepared a miso soup from scratch. Here, Kaoru shows us what the alge looks like which we used to make dashi broth.

Next we made Sashimi (salmon, lightly fried scallops and shrimp) with cucumber and avocado dices, wakame, snow-radish and mild rice vinegar jelly which is a specialty of Hirohisa Koyama. It was to-die-for-tasty!

As a main dish, we prepared Onigiri, that is rice flavored with different ingredients and pressed into a triangular shape (ok, I still have to work in the latter part as you can see in the picture). With that, we had chicken marinated in  Sesame-Teriyaki-Sauce, yumm!!! 

For dessert, we made Kuri-An-Dorazyaki which are honey-pancakes with a filling of Azuki bean paste and chestnuts. We used a really great gadget which Kaoru had just received via mail from Japan to brand our pancakes. It's a miniature bird-shaped branding iron which you hold into the gas flame of the stove and then press into the pancake. This might be another kitchen tool which I just can't live without... 

And just when you think the evenning can't get any better, you get a free neck-massage from Kaoru!  All in all, a really great cooking class! I learned a lot about which products to buy, and also that I don't have to buy an entire Asia-store to cook Japanese dishes in my tiny kitchen. Kaoru patiently explained ever step so that we wouldn't have any problems preparing the dishes at home.
I am definitely happy that I got the chance to be Kaorus student for an evening! So be prepared for some more Japanese recipes here in the future!


  1. This looks totally amazing! Any idea when the next class is? I should have a look on their website.
    So nice to see you again last night.
    Love it if you came over for dinner in the New Year.

  2. @foodie in berlin: Likewise, it was so nice to meet you again over a lovely dinner! Let's make sure to get together sometime next year!
    I am sure you will love the class! Say hello to Kaoru and enjoy the evening!

  3. Hello Schlachtplatte,
    Kaoru will be on TV explaining here Zen-Style kitchen.
    Contact her through:

    Best Regards