Our end result: bento lunch boxes
I joined Slow Food Waitakere this month and on Sunday 8 May went to my first event: a Japanese cooking class held at Pine Valley B&B in Silverdale, hosted by
Kazuyo Friedlander.

Our hosts, from left: Kazuyo, Eri, Chikako

First, Eri did a soy milk and tofu-making demo.

Eri strains the boiled soy beans through a cloth then puts the mixture in a mould.

Then Chikako showed us how to make several dishes:
Buttercup and bacon croquettes

Daikon radish ume mayonnaise salad

Sesame flavoured stir fry capsicums

Marinated celery in sweet vinegar

Rolled rice in nori

Chicken mince balls skewer

Omelette with surimi (crab stick) inside

Mustard flavoured broccoli

Salmon saute in fragrant sauce

(Alessandra also made croquettes using okara, a byproduct of the tofu making)

Here, Chikako makes an omelette with surimi inside in special rectangle pan

After Chicako’s demo the 20 of us split up into teams of 3 and started making a dish each. As you can imagine, the kitchen was a hive of activity - chopping, frying, rolling to our hearts’ content. Everyone was enthusiastic and loving the teamwork. I cut the daikon into tiny sized matchsticks and made a mayo with umeboshi plums.
Then we all helped to place portions into the bento boxes provided. Soon they filled up with colourful tasty morsels.

It was a beautiful sunny day, so we took our bento down the garden to the glasshouse. 

It was a very satisfying and filling lunch, accompanied by wine and Japanese herbal water.

It was great to meet the other members and I look forward to our next workshop.

At home I made the buttercup croquettes without the bacon. Chikako showed us an easy way to roast the buttercup – just put it in the oven whole for about 25-30 mins. Slice in half lengthways and scoop out the baked flesh, discarding the seeds. Mix 2 cups cooled down cooked buttercup with sautéed onions, salt and pepper. Roll into croquette shapes, dip into beaten egg the roll in Japanese panko crumbs. I just used regular gluten-free crumbs that I had on hand. Deep fry in batches for about 4 mins until golden.