ProCook founder Daniel O’Neill and his son recently took part in a cookery class with Japanese chef, Reiko Hashimoto and was so enthusiastic about their experience learning to cook a variety of Japanese dishes, that we knew we just had to get in touch with Reiko herself to find out more. The idea of mastering Japanese food can be daunting to many, but Reiko’s on a mission to take out the fear associated with the cuisine and show that we could all be making our own sushi and sashimi at home.
THE INTERVIEW WITH REIKO
Hi Reiko, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a mother of two grown up sons, I’m a cookery teacher and a recipe writer. My passion is food and cooking and so I do it for a living. I truly enjoy meeting keen cooks and food enthusiasts, especially Japanese food, through my teaching career. It’s the greatest pleasure introducing my culinary heritage to people over in the UK.
What inspired your interest in cooking?
I have been with my mother in the kitchen since I was a little girl. I’ve been cooking for myself and my family all my life but I started to cook professionally 16 years ago.
Daniel, our founder, loved the sushi and sashimi cookery session he took part in and has said he would highly recommend anyone interested in making sushi to book onto one of your courses. Could you tell us a little bit about your cookery classes, for example what made you decide to transform your passion for Japanese food into a career teaching and sharing your passion with others?
I started to cater to upmarket Japanese dining 16 years ago and soon after that I started to teach, as many people asked me to run sushi classes. I was lucky enough to start sushi and sashimi classes at that time, just before sushi was about to take off in London. If you search for ‘sushi class in London’ now there are plenty of options, but back then nobody else was offering it. I was the first person to set these up in London, and I now teach many other kinds of Japanese cookery classes and courses as there are many different kinds of Japanese foods to learn as well as just sushi.
What should people expect when they sign up to one of your classes?
A relaxed, friendly and fun atmosphere where they can meet fellow Japanese food enthusiasts. I offer top quality ingredients and authentic Japanese crockery in a beautiful spacious kitchen for that luxurious feel.
Do you need to be a master in the kitchen to take part? We’ve heard Japanese cooking can be a little tricky…
Not at all! My classes are suited to absolute beginners too (in fact I actually offer a four-part beginners course for those interested). All of my classes start with an explanation of every ingredient that we use and basic preparation before we get into the cooking and demonstration.
That sounds great! So what dishes could we expect to be making on the day?
That depends on the class. The most popular class is sushi and sashimi, although my ramen and gyoza class has become very popular in the last couple of years.
They both sound delicious, maybe we’ll have to sign up to both! Do you think even the most amateur of chefs will be able to make the recipes at home after the class?
Yes, you are able to make all of the dishes you have learned in the class at home. My aim is to demystify the secret to Japanese cooking, in fact everyday Japanese cooking is actually quite simple. You can find many of my recipes from the sessions in my books, and they are all easily achievable at home.
What do you hope people will take home from your session?
I hope people will actually cook the dishes at home. Many of my students send me photos of their dishes and messages saying they are cooking Japanese dishes on a regular basis. This makes me ever so happy.
We can imagine, that must be such a lovely feeling knowing you’ve passed on your culinary knowledge to someone else. How can we find out more or book onto a session?
You can visit my website to find out more about what I offer, and Trip Advisor has lots of reviews of my sessions to see what other people thought.
That’s great, thank you Reiko. Now to find that website so we can sign up…
We had a fabulous day out learning how to cook sushi rice, Tamago-Yaki (a Japanese sweet omelette roll) and Miso Soup as well a show to prepare Oshi-Zushi (compressed sushi), HosoMaki Zushi (thin rolls), UraMaki Sushi (inside out rolls), Nigiri Zushi and Sashimi. The session ran for 4 hours and we were provided with all of the equipment needed to get started, such as a square frying pan for the Tamagoyaki and a bamboo sushi mat (which we later found in the goody box to take home!). We feasted on all of the dishes we had made at the end of the session and there were plenty to take home too; it’s very easy for me to recommend one of Reiko’s sessions to anyone interested in learning more about Japanese cooking and sushi.