Did you know that in Japan you should never stick chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice? Nor should you use chopsticks to spear food. And don’t even think about putting them down crossed over each other. I learnt this at a Japanese cooking evening for bloggers.
The event was hosted by KLM with Atsuko’s Kitchen to celebrate the airline’s route to Fukuoka in Kyushu. Kyushu is in the South of Japan and is the country’s third largest island. Besides flights to Tokyo and Osaka KLM offers three flights a week from the UK to Fukuoka via Amsterdam. I’ve not been to Japan but enjoyed reading A Bavarian Sojourn’s posts about her family holiday there last year and was really interested to hear about its culture and customs from Atsuko, our charming cookery teacher for the evening.
Besides chopstick etiquette Atsuko also told us about Kyushu’s stunning scenery which includes active volcanoes, hot springs, ancient forests, sandy beaches and sweeping mountains: it sounds like a lovely place.
Atsuko explained that we were going to help her make some local Kyushu dishes: mizutaki nabe (a type of chicken hot pot), suko zuzhi (seafood and vegetable sushi), buta no kakuni (braised pork) and hitomoji no guruguru (spring onion parcels). I’m not into cooking and was unsure how I could contribute to creating this daunting range of dishes.
It all sounded pretty tricky to me but the cheerful Atsuko soon had us hard at work. I don’t eat meat and so was assigned to make the spring onion parcels. The trickiest stage of the recipe was winding the spring onions around themselves and tying them into knots, but I managed it:
The spring onions were then combined with all of the dishes everyone had been working on. I had a meat-free version and we were ready to eat:
It all tasted very good to me. If you’d like to have a go at making the hitomoji no guruguru which I made, Atsuko’s recipe is below. Just make sure you don’t cross your chopsticks.
Hitomoji no guru guru
(Spring onions with miso mustard sauce)
15 spring onions and a pinch of salt. For the karashi sumiso sauce: 4 tbsp white smooth miso, 2 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp agave, 1 1/2 tbsp karashi (mustard).
- Bring the water to the boil. Add a pinch of salt. Make small holes in the spring onions to stop them from swelling and possibly bursting. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the stems are softened.
- Wash the spring onions in cold water. Drain. Cut off the roots. Wind each stem around itself into a knot and tuck the ends in.
- To make the karashi sumiso sauce mix all of the ingredients together until the mustard dissolves.
- Pour the karashi sumiso over the spring onions just before serving.
Thank you to KLM for hosting this event and for inviting me to it.