March 24, 2014

Turning Japanese: A Ramen Masterclass & Easy Japanese Homecooking

Japanese food is one of my big loves. It is a cuisine I have really only discovered in the last few years basically because not many Japanese restaurants existed in Dublin! The scene has changed dramatically over the past few years and now I have my regular gotos, such as Musashi, Zakura, OCHA and Wagamama for my fill of sushi, ramen and noodles.  It is a cuisine and culture I love learning more about and jump at every opportunity to do so.

My Marinated Eel Ramen

Recently I was lucky enough to get invited to two events all about Japanese food. First up was a Ramen session with Wagamama’s head chef and trainer Juan Carlos Manteca. Wagamama opened in Ireland in 1998 and was actually the first place I ever tried ramen so I was delighted to go back to learn more. The morning started off with a very interesting presentation about ramen from Juan and was filled with loads of interesting facts. Did you know that ramen was actually brought into Japan by China and that nearly every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen! 

Juan Carlos Manteca

Next up was a ramen cook-off. We were introduced to all the ingredients  that the Wagamama kitchen uses and were free to sample them. I was particularly taken with the marinated eel as it was something I had never encountered before. I also never realised that Wagamama uses Irish seaweed in some of its dishes which I thought was fantastic. Then it was time to make up our own ramen. We choose our broth, cooked our noodles and picked out our toppings. Then it was down to a taste test between all five. Happy to say I won but I think the choice of marinated eel swung it for me! 

Feeling very proud of my dish!
It was a very informative and well spent morning learning about a chain I regularly visit and one of the dishes that I love the most. Wagamama provides customers with chance to eat high quality, tasty, fresh fast food and you get to eat it with chopsticks. Need I say more!  

A few days later I attended an Easy Japanese Meals demo in the Miele Gallery run by Fiona Uyema. Fiona, who blogs at Fiona’s Japanese Cooking, has recently become very well known in Ireland for her easy to follow Japanese style recipes which mix contemporary and traditional tastes. I had previously attended one of her sushi making classes so this demo was a broader take on Japanese food. 

Fiona telling us all about lotus root

She started off the session by introducing us to the ingredients that are regularly used in Japanese cooking. I took pictures of all of these so I can remember what they are! We were then introduced to a series of recipes including Yakisoba, Chicken Katsu Curry and Poached Fish in a Teriyaki sauce. Fiona made sure the demo was fun and interactive and fielded a lot of questions from the audience.  The great thing about this demo was that it showed us how easy and quick Japanese meals can be. The demo has inspired me to tackle the Asian market and to start cooking Japanese at home!

Some of the Japanese dishes we got to sample

Her next demo is on the 14th April and costs €25. Just email her at if you would like to book a place. 

Disclaimer: I was invited to these events free of charge but at no point was I asked for a review. I am sharing this information as I think it is of interest to my readers. 

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