I had my very first pop up dinner event in New York on 5/20th, and had such a wonderful time with 20 guests. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people having a good time, smiling, laughing, making new friends, over the foods that I prepared with love.
1st course : miso soup shot, umami tasting
To have guests have true "umami" experience, which is the essence of Japanese cuisine, I served 2 miso soup shots, one w/ kombu seaweed, the other w/o. It was a blind tasting.
2nd course : hijiki caviar spread on vegan cheese and whole grain bread
Hijiki seaweed reminds me of my mom saying, "eat more hijiki so you can grow nice thick black hair", which I hated. But this "king of calcium" proved her right. I created caviar-like spread on top of vegan cream cheese and whole grain bread.
3rd course : Mixed sea vegetables & brown rice salad w/ miso-sesame-rice vinegar dressing
This dish is to show how easily you can incorporate sea veggies in your daily meal. Just mix them in your salad! All you need is a great home made dressing.
main course : nori infused fried "chicken" w/ cucumber-wakame salad
Sea veggies are like "great supporting actors", instead of the main. Tonight' main course is "Isobe-Age", or deep fried food in nori seaweed infused batter, kind of like a "surf-turf" dish. What's the "chicken" made of? Figure it out! (I'll teach you in my cooking classes)
dessert : kanten fruit jello & banana brown rice pudding
Kanten, or agar agar is also used in many Japanese cuisine, both savory and sweet. This seaweed creates jello-like texture, healthier (and better) alternative to gelatin. I also served brown rice pudding just to show how you don't need sugar to create delicious dessert. Only sweetness of the pudding comes from steamed banana. On top is a nori seaweed granola.
Have you ever seen a movie, early 90s, "Big night"? The air in the kitchen while preparing was just like that. In fact, the owner of the space was playing the sound track of that movie. Despite my tendency to be intense and nervous under such stressful situation, I found myself, surprisingly, enjoying the moment preparing for 20 + people. And this positive energy went straight into the dinner table, and the night turned out to be, again, just like the movie.
I'm really greatful for being given this great opportunity, and I thank Pas, the owner and organizer of this event, and of course, all the guests who created this truly remarkable evening.
Until next time..
peace, Jin Hirata