If you’re a foodie traveling in Tokyo, you must visit Tsukiji Market—the world’s largest seafood market. It’s a mad rush of activity, especially in the early morning when most of the commercial purchasing takes place. Forklifts and small trucks whiz back and forth, workers stack enormous piles of empty Styrofoam containers for recycling, and every type of seafood imaginable is on display. The sheer volume of seafood sold daily is astounding—over 5 million pounds!
Japanese-Homestyle Cooking Class in Mayuko’s Little Kitchen
Whenever I travel, I try to immerse myself in the culture and experience local cuisine. I enjoy dining out, visiting markets and cafés, and tasting different regional specialties and styles of cooking. But I also like to see how the locals cook, as restaurant cooking usually differs significantly from what’s prepared in the home. That led me to Mayuko’s Little Kitchen.
Mayuko is a young Japanese woman, who quit her job as a cosmetics manager to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a cooking teacher. She teaches out of her small Tokyo apartment located on the border of Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in a quiet residential area just off the main bustle. Her classes give an intimate glimpse into Japanese cooking.
Pad Thai Spring Roll Ingredients Ready for Assembly
One of my favorite dishes is Pad Thai. I love the refreshing sweet and sour sauce, the bright herbs, and the juicy shrimp. I recently tried to create an appetizer that captured all the flavors of traditional Pad Thai, but presented in a totally new way. That’s how these Pad Thai spring rolls with tamarind dipping sauce came to exist.
Ingredients for Tamarind Dipping Sauce
Tamarind Dipping Sauce
This sauce is at the heart of Pad Thai. It’s a perfect balance of sweet, sour, salt, spice, and acidity. To make it, you need rice vinegar, fish sauce, fresh tamarind concentrate (concentrated juice and pulp from the tamarind fruit), palm sugar (an unrefined sugar made from the sap of palm trees), Thai bird chiles, shallots, garlic, and kaffir lime leaves.
Thinly Sliced Chashu (Marinated Braised Pork Belly)
Chashu—slow-braised marinated pork belly—is a much-loved ramen topping. The glistening pork is used in many styles of ramen and is often served thinly sliced, floating near the top of bowl. Today I’m going to show you how to make chashu.
Ramen is a slow art. Making a bowl of ramen can be a multi-day affair—the stock alone can take days. It takes time to develop the flavors from each of the ingredients. If you’re in Japan, you can let the experts do the work and grab a quick meal at a ramen shop; however, if you’re in America and aren’t lucky enough to have a quality ramen restaurant near you, then you might want to invest the time and energy to make it yourself. Plus, it’s fun learning how dishes are made and cooking them at home (at least, I think so)!
Special Tsukemen with Extra Chashu Pork at Fuunji Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo
Despite howling winds and lashing rain from an approaching typhoon, Corey and I braved the streets of Shinjuku in search of a delicious meal. It was our second night in Japan and we couldn’t let two days go by without having any noodles!
Originally, we’d planned to eat soba in memory lane our first night in Tokyo at Kameya Shinjuku, but that had been thwarted by the Obon holiday. So we weren’t going to let the weather stop us from eating at Fuunji!