Last week, a couple dozen curious food lovers joined me at the Saveur magazine test kitchen for a Japanese vegetarian cooking workshop with the amazing Chef Masato Nishihara of Kajitsu restaurant. What an incredible night. As we gathered around the test kitchen, Masato demonstrated how to prepare his own handmade soba noodles and soba dipping sauce - then proceed to riff on soba dipping sauce to cook four more fantastic dishes. And in between Masato's kitchen moves, the gang shuffled over to the long dining table for a series of very special sake tastings led by Joto Sake president Henry Sidel.
I'd like to ask our participants to share in the comments below any notes or methods that they picked up at the workshop. We'd all love to hear your thoughts. Let me also describe the fundamental ingredient of the workshop -- the soba dipping sauce, or soba tsuyu. This all-vegetarian dipping sauce is composed of kaeshi, the base, combined with kombu dashi, that is, stock derived from umami-rich kombu. The method is simple: For the kaeshi, combine 9 parts soy sauce, 1 part mirin and 1.5 parts unrefined cane sugar. Let the mixture sit for at least 2 weeks at room temperature (it can last up to six months). Combine with kombu dashi (here's a method) at a ratio of 1 part kaeshi to 3.5 parts kombu dashi. Bring the kombu dashi to a boil, add the kaeshi, bring to a boil again, remove from heat, and it's ready.
Check out photos below from the workshop, shot by my friend Jesse Alexander (thanks!). Keep an eye out on the JFR for the next workshop at the Saveur kitchen, scheduled for Monday, December 7th. I'm planning to announce that next week. Finally, thanks to the Saveur team, Masato, Henry, Julie, Stacy and the good folks at Bambu for an amazing workshop!