Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Learning to Cook Japanese + Hashi Cooking's Recipe for Beef Tataki & Creamy Sesame Sauce

I first learned of Reiko Hashimoto-Lambert's Japanese cookery lessons, held in the spacious kitchen of her Wimbledon Park home, by way of Luiz, the London Foodie's blog post last year. Luiz has attended most of Reiko's Hashi Cooking classes during the last 3 years and often puts what he's learned to good practice, much to the delight of lucky dinner guests.


I, on the other hand, have always felt quite nervous about attempting Japanese cooking at home and have no experience of it whatsoever. So I was absolutely delighted when Luiz invited me to attend a special blogger session he and Reiko put together to show us what Hashi Cooking is all about. Yes, please, count in me for that!

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Tamarind & Thyme, Gourmet Chick, Greedy Diva, Gastrogeek, The Wine Sleuth and myself duly arrived to a warm welcome from Reiko and Luiz, who was playing the part of Reiko's class assistant for the evening.


Usually, Reiko offers four different evening courses, each of which run across four sessions – these are Beginners, Home Cooking, Gourmet and Master Chef. In each course, students are taken through four dishes (plus countless techniques and tips) during each of the four sessions. At the end of each session, students enjoy the dishes prepared and Reiko also provides tips on presentation and traditional table manners. Also available are her single session Saturday Sushi & Sashimi classes.


For our special blogger session, Reiko took two dishes from her beginners course and two from the gourmet to give us a great overview of her wide repertoire, a range of ingredients, lots of different techniques and a great insight into her relaxed but meticulous teaching style.

The four dishes we learned during the evening were beef tataki with creamy sesame sauce, gyoza dumplings, grilled scallops on sushi rice with creamy spicy sauce and cold soba noodles with spicy aubergine.

On arrival, our places were set with folders containing all four recipes as well as a handy glossary and a suppliers list of stores where we could find the more esoteric ingredients. I appreciated having these in advance so I could scribble extra tips and notes onto the pages throughout the evening.

In order not to waste precious teaching time, Reiko prepares all the basic ingredients in advance. This means the entire session can be devoted to the interesting stuff allowing us to cover four dishes without feeling rushed in the slightest.

As some dishes needed resting, marinating or cooling time, we switched between the dishes during the evening, but each of the recipes remained really clear and straightforward.

The class provided a mix of demonstration (for which we all had a great view - the advantage of small class sizes around a large central island) and hands-on so we could properly get to grips with the tricky knack of correctly folding gyoza. I made a few I was proud of but some of mine looked rather ungainly next to those made by the nimblest fingers!

Anytime any of us had a question, Reiko took time to answer it fully and all the extra information and tips she crammed in made this single session very rich in terms of what we learned.

It was also a pleasure to learn about Reiko's background as an air stewardess, during which time she really learned about good food, travelling the world and eating out wherever she went and also preparing high quality food during her time in the first class cabin. From this start, it was a natural progression for Reiko to share her passion with food and she began teaching Japanese cooking to the foreign community in Tokyo before moving to the UK, where she has been teaching for over ten years.

What's next for Reiko? A project I'm rather excited about as I can't wait to read it; Reiko is working on a cookery book featuring many of her tried, tested and much-loved recipes which should be coming out next year.

Find out more about the classes at Hashi Cooking's website or call Reiko on 020 8944 1918. The Saturday sushi and sashimi class costs £120. The evening classes cost from £240 to £280 for four sessions.

The first dish we learned - seared fillet of beef served on a bed of onion and radish with a creamy sesame sauce and deep fried garlic chips - was definitely my favourite of the evening though I really enjoyed all four. It's the first one I'll be trying at home!

Reiko's Beef Tataki with Creamy Sesame Sauce

400 gram beef fillet
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
¼ daikon (mooli radish), very thinly sliced

For garlic chips:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

For the sesame sauce:
4 tablespoons tahini paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon water (optional, depending on thickness of tahini paste)

Note: Beef fillet is usually quite thick, so Reiko usually cuts it into quarters along it's length.


  • First make the garlic chips. Heat oil in a small frying pan, add the thinly sliced garlic and fry gently over a low heat, for about 5-6 minutes. Once the garlic begins to colour, remove and drain on kitchen paper. Be careful not to cook until golden as they will continue to cook after draining.
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  • Soak the thinly sliced onion and radish in salted water for 10-15 minutes. Then rinse well and squeeze the water out completely.
  • Heat a frying pan until hot. Brush the beef with the oil (use your hands!) and cook in the hot pan until browned all over. It is important to seal the beef all over, including the ends, first and then continue cooking to desired level.

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  • Once the beef is cooked to the level you wish, remove from the pan and marinade in a mixture of soy sauce and mirin, which will be re-used for the sesame sauce later. Make sure all the juices from the pan go into the soy sauce mixture as well.
  • Set the beef aside for at least 30 minutes. This makes it easier to slice and also allows it to absorb flavours from the sauce.
  • To make the sesame sauce, remove the beef from the soy and mirin sauce (and set aside). Add the tahini paste, sugar and water and mix well. (Reiko warned us that the sauce may split initially but if you keep mixing, it will re-combine into a smooth creamy sauce).


  • Slice the beef (about 5mm thick).
  • Plate the dish with mounds of onion and radish, a slice of beef, a generous spoon of the sesame sauce and a sprinkle of the garlic chips.

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Here are some pictures from the other 3 dishes we learned:

Gyoza Dumplings

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Grilled Scallops on Sushi Rice with Creamy Spicy Sauce

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Cold Soba Noodles with Spicy Aubergine

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MeetaK said...

i have dabbled in japanese cooking at home and have always wanted to take classes. this looks great kavey!

May said...

This looked like fun. Have always wanted to learn to cook more Japanese dishes. Will have to try these recipes and sign up for lessons.

The London Foodie said...

Fantastic post Kavey, thank you so much for taking your time to write it and for the mention. I was so pleased that everyone seemed to have a good time, and I felt we all learnt quite a bit in one session only.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

Su-Lin said...

Great photos and writeup, Kavey! You've captured the evening perfectly!

The Grubworm said...

Great blog post Kavey! I think i have learned something new just reading the seared beef recipe. That looks like a great course and it would certainly give me the grounding i want in Japanese food. One for next year maybe.

Louise said...

this looks like fantastic fun and such a great review and photo's.

Greedy Diva said...

Your photos of the night are gorgeous! I really enjoyed this class.

azelias kitchen said...

I adore Gyoza Dumplings...and would probably not been able to eat my share and everyone else when they weren't looking....

There are very few food classes I would take but this looks interesting enough...