Cooking up a Singaporean Storm in Tokyo

I love teaching ’cause I love learning. My kids – I’m sure they prefer to be called teenagers – keep my mind active and heart alive. I’ve taught English in Japan for the past 2 years. It’s been an exciting, unexpected and fulfilling adventure. 

But last weekend, I taught something a little different. 

My very first cooking class.

32 people of all ages and different walks of life, showed up to the event. Kokubunji Community Centre has been running this event for a while now, but I’m their very first Singaporean. 

cooking

It’s been in the works since July and it took a lot of planning, effort and back and forth with lots of people to see it to fruition. 

Deciding on the menu. Finding and sometimes substituting the ingredients, adjusting the recipe for 8 people. Spending a lot of time on Google translate and trying to figure out how to explain it all in Japanese.

And failing miserably. But meh. You live, you learn… and slowly learn to speak more Japanese.

It wouldn’t have been possible without these amazing women: Masuda San, Miyao San and Noza San. 

masudamiyaonoza

I generally cook by eye and adjust things depending on what kind of mood my ingredients are in. But writing recipes requires a certain precision that cooks don’t often get the luxury of in the kitchen. 

Most of us shop at the supermarket and as some of us may know all too well – just cause it looks good doesn’t mean it’s going to taste good. Flavourless fruits and vegetables. Meat that doesn’t smell as fresh as it looks. Fish that hasn’t been properly cleaned. 

Oh the joy.

While there are a lot of other Singaporean dishes that are more popular and well-known, I picked dishes that are relatively easy to recreate at home: tahu goreng, nasi goreng and Milo Dinosaur.

tahugorengfood

It’s all super healthy. Don’t let all my late nights out fool you – I’m an incredibly health conscious person. 

The hardest thing to prepare was the tahu goreng’s gravy. It’s not an easy task – especially since it consists of getting the right balance of getting the five ‘tastes’—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and spicy.

Flavours on separate ends of the spectrum brought together at the right time and temperature to tease the tastebuds. 

You also have to stir it constantly to make sure it doesn’t bubble over. It’s one of those time consuming tasks that requires a lot of patience. Having said that – it’s worth the effort.

cookingtahugoreng.jpg

Whenever I bite into it, it always tastes like home. 

I love love love cooking, hosting dinners, and having people over from all over the world. I also love love love it when people cook for me, or teach me how to cook something from their country. 

What can I say? I’m one of those people who lives to eat. Eating to live is for other people.

Food is my life. 

Food is life. Without it we wouldn’t exist. Food is nutrition, medicine and so much more. It is what sustains our short-lived lives on this planet. 

I was happy and kind of high by the end of it. 

dipa-end

After the cooking class, I spent all evening with an old friend from Kyushu at one of my favourite restaurants in Tokyo.

I woke up on Monday beady eyed and tired cause the weekend was too long and too good. 

I taught. I learnt. And it was good, as God intended. 

Author: Dipa

Tarot Tales from Japan

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