Japanese cooking can be intimidating. The ingredients are expensive and sometimes difficult to obtain. What’s more, presentation (which is not always my strong suit) is an art. Japanese is the sort of food that it is good to eat out rather than cook yourself. That was how my thinking went until I met Reiko Hashimoto-Lambert. Reiko is just the woman to help you get over these hang ups. She has been running Japanese cooking classes from her home in Wimbledon for ten years. Her classes are called Hashi Cooking as Hashi is the Japanese word for chopstick and also part of Reiko’s name. She has been a guest on Saturday Kitchen and is writing a cookbook that will be published next year. What she doesn’t know about Japanese food is not worth knowing.
Beef tataki with creamy sesame sauce
As a big fan of Hashi Cooking classes, London Foodie organised a group of people to try out one of the classes. The class was partly demonstration and partly hands on. My view is that actually trying to do something yourself is by far the best way to learn so I was happy that we all got to participate. There is no way I would ever have mastered folding dumpling wrappers to make gyoza without attempting it myself. The small size of the classes is also great. With only eight people in a class you get a lot of personal attention from Reiko.
Beef Tataki with Creamy Sesame Sauce
This is Reiko’s recipe for beef tataki with creamy sesame sauce. I think you will agree that it looks spectacular but the best thing about the recipe is that it is actually not that difficult. The key thing according to Reiko is to buy good quality beef fillet. Check your local butcher or try Ocado’s aged Aberdeen Angus.
Searing the beef
400g beef fillet cut into quarters lengthways
3 tsp sunflower oil
1 onion thinly sliced
1/4 daikon radish thinly sliced (if you can’t get daikon use shallots as a substitute)
3 tbsp sunflower oil
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
4 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp water
Frying the garlic chips
1. To make the garlic chips heat the oil in a small frying pan over a low heat. Add the sliced garlic and fry gently for 5-6 minutes. Remove the garlic as soon as it begins to colour and drain on kitchen towel. Don’t cook until the garlic is golden as it will continue cooking after being removed.
2. Soak the onion and radish in salted water for 10-15 mins then rinse well and squeeze the water out completely.
3. Heat a frying pan until hot. Brush the beef generously with oil and cook in the hot pan until browned and sealed all over. Then slowly cook the beef to the level you want. Reiko cooked her beef for about 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, mix the soya sauce and mirin together.
Cooked garlic chips draining
5. Remove the beef from the pan and quickly dip it into the soya sauce mixture making sure that all the juices from the pan are also poured into the mixture. This means the beef stops cooking immediately and the sauce will be strengthened by the juices from the meat.
6. Leave the beef in the soya mixture for 30 minutes. This allows the beef to cool down, makes it easier to slice and gives it time to soak up the flavour of the sauce.
7. Remove the beef from the soya mixture and use the mixture to make the sesame sauce. Whisk the soya mixture with tahini paste, water and sugar.
8. Arrange three small piles of the onion and daikon mixture on each plate, cut the beef into thin slices and lay a piece on top of each pile of onion and daikon, then pour the sesame sauce over the beef. Garnish with the garlic chips.
Plating the beef
Serves four as a main or eight as a starter.
Essentials: Hashi Cooking, Wimbledon (Ph 0208944 1918)
Damage: Saturday class £120, series of four classes for beginners £240.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in this recipe for salmon fillet with a Japanese twist or in this review of the fabulous Japanese restaurant Roka.