Chefs of the BenGusto™ Buddy Cooking Class flew across the Pacific and into Asia last Thursday (1/15) to delve into the fine art of Japanese cuisine!
Up until then, we had always stayed within the borders of Italian and American cuisine. This lesson on “Japanese noodles in broth with snow peas, bok choy, and tofu” was different, but all the chefs were up to the challenge.
In order to ease into Japanese cuisine, Robert and I warmed up by working on something we all know: focaccia, the classic Italian bread from the Ligurian Riviera. Together, we seasoned it and put it in the oven to be ready for dipping in the noodle broth at dinner.
Before touching any pots or pans, we worked on preparing our mis en place (a French culinary term for “putting in place”) of ingredients, laying out the required produce to be added to the pot. Penny and CJ scrubbed the mushrooms, Andrew and Aly sliced the bok choy, Halle crushed the garlic, I chopped the fresh lemongrass, etc. etc.
Our steps to making Japanese Noodles with Bok Choy, Snow Peas, and Tofu:
– Heat chopped onion, shallot, and shishito pepper in olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.
– Add the snow peas, salt, and crushed garlic. Stir.
– Add the sliced mushroom and bok choy. Sprinkle in some soy sauce, fish sauce, and rice vinegar.
– Add chicken broth to fill about 2/3 of the pot. Throw in the grated ginger and lime zest (very little lime zest).
– Boil some Japanese noodles and pour them into the soup.
– Mix in cubed tofu, green onion, and sesame seeds.
– Finish with sriracha sauce and/or toasted sesame oil if desired.
The class was on the full side with 12 chefs total. Ms. Dixon, my esteemed business teacher and friend of Best Buddies director Ms. Crawford, attended for the first time. By the next class, we might have half the school faculty packed in the kitchen.
Watching everybody work so diligently on preparing this dish was really a magnificent sight. We were able to delegate each task to different groups of people, making things go more fluidly and keeping everyone busy at all times. By the time everything was laid out on the table, we still had the energy to have a great family-style meal together, keeping the conversation lasting for a good hour and well past the set 5:00 – 7:00 PM time. Some parents even ended up joining us in the dining room.