Today our Ethnic Cooking Co-op (a.k.a. "Kitchen Club") did a quick foray into Japanese cuisine. We have a lot of bits of Japanese culture on the periphery of our lives. We have kids who say "sumi masem" and "domo arigato gozaimasu" at Aikido, and who have been raised in the Suzuki music paradigm, who have had periods of obsession with anime, reading Japanese kana, and who live in a tiny town with a significant population of Japanese-Canadians ... enough that until five or ten years ago Japanese was probably the second commonest language spoken here. Our grocery store, which is really only the size of a good convenience store, with a produce "aisle" that's a single cooler 8 feet long, has a Japanese food section with a choice of three different types of wasabi and six different types of seaweed, among numerous other options. They even had red bean mochi cakes (above, upper right).
We know sushi pretty well here, but I don't think any of the kids had ever rolled it for themselves. Pictured above are a couple of plates of their creations. I think they did very well!
There was extensive use made of the Buddha board over the course of the morning for practising calligraphy (mostly hiragana), and lots of origami was made. Strangely enough, these ever-so-appropriate side-forays into Japanese arts and culture were completely initiated by the kids. If the parents had suggested them, the kids no doubt would have found the whole thing contrived and teacherish and gone off to do something else.
We paired the sushi with a simple miso soup and finished off with delectable green tea gelato.
Green Tea Gelato
1/4 cup of loose green tea, or about 16 teabags
5 cups of milk
1/3 cup instant dry milk powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Bring about half of the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Add tea and steep on low heat for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to sit for half an hour. Strain out the tea and press to extract as much of the milk as possible from the leaves. Return milk to saucepan. Stir in the sugar and the egg yolks. Place over very low even heat and cook, stirring constantly, until a thickened custard has formed. Mix in the remainder of the milk, plus the cream and the dry milk powder.
Chill overnight. The next day freeze in ice cream maker or shallow pan, stirring frequently until desired consistency has been achieved. Yum!