Recipes and Entries

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Posted on September 25, 2015 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)


I will be at SHED in Healdsburg leading Japanese culinary workshops during the month of October. Please join us.

For details, please visit Shed's website. (Here is the link)

Tofu Making - SF Cooking School

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)
This summer I started teaching tofu making.  It's a lot more work than other workshops - prep and clean up wise but the rewards are wonderful and I found some nice Non-GMO soybeans and good sources for nigari. There is nothing like the flavor of freshly made tofu.   Here is a blog about my workshop at the SF Cooking School and some nice pictures to share with you. 

Explaining the water-bean ratio.  Chalkboard is a useful tool.

Tofu in the maiking

Beautiful cotton type tofu made by a student

Three Noodling Workshops in September

Posted on September 9, 2015 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Okay, I just want to say that we got through this hot muggy summer in one piece. I know it's not over. I spent half a day at the Pasadena Library because it's so cool there.  These old buildings are so well insulated, they don't even need air conditioning. So this is where I thought about announcing the first of my fall classes in Los Angeles. Let's start with three noodling classes in September.  Sorry, I didn't give you plenty of advance notice but I have been so busy trying to finish my RICECRAFT cookbook, which will be out in the fall of 2016.  I spent most of the summer making nothing but onigiris, and discovered some good recipes along the way, but I now want to get back to my favorite food: noodles.


I will be featuring soba, udon and ramen.  HEre are the dates:


Sunday, September 20 11-130pm Soba noodles by Hand


Saturday, September 26 11-130pm udon Noodles by Hand


Sunday, September 27 NEW!! 11-130pm ramen Noodles by Hand


Cost is $95 dollars for each class.


In each class, you will learn more than noodle making. I will take you through the Japanese Pantry, show you how to incorporate Japanese seasonings into your daily cooking. You will make a dipping sauce and hot broth, using these ingredients. You will learn how to make noodles by hand, using authentic noodle making tools. We will do tastings in class and you will each take home two servings of noodles. This is not a gluten free or vegan workshop but vegetarian option is available if you let me know in advance by e-mail.


To register, please e-mail me at [email protected] and I will send you a Paypal registration form.


All three classes will be offered in Highland Park.

Please bring an apron and wear "tennis shoes" or soft shoes.


Thank you very much.

Tofu Workshop July 18, 2015

Posted on July 11, 2015 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I will be offering a Tofu workshop from 11-2pm on Saturday, July 18 in Highland Park.  This is a hands on workshop that will show you how to mae tofu from scratch!  You will never eat commercial tofu again.  To register, e mail [email protected]

KCRW Good Food - Umeboshi

Posted on July 11, 2015 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I was on KCRW GOOD FOOD talking with Evan Kleiman about Umeboshi.  Here is the link.

July 10 Soba Workshop in Santa Moncia

Posted on July 10, 2015 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Ok, we've had our 4th of July celebration, saw the fireworks and rodeo in Tehachapi. Now I am back from the ranch teaching.  Tomorrow, Saturday, July 10 is Soba at Gourmandise School in Santa Monica. It's nearly sold out.  
It will be a fun class, if you haven't taken my soba class yet.  There is also another workshop coming next Sunday but let's get through this one first. The more practice the better.  To register visit Gourmandise school (" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">here is the link).

Soba Yoga - A workout and cooking class in one

Posted on June 9, 2015 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I used to not like eating soba salads - soba in combination with vegetables tossed in an oily salad dressing. The idea of the noodles getting mushy was what turned me off. But I have managed to solve that problem by tossing the salad separately from the oily dressing.  The vegetables get their coat of dressing but not the soba, until you mix up the whole thing together- which can wait till last minute.  The noodles get a quick dip in a  soy bonito broth. This gives the noodles some flavor.  My soba salad is a two step process, and maybe not for everyone but I like serving soba salads this way.   You can use any combination of vegetables and salad dressing with soba. These noodles are pretty adaptable. 

I am offering a soba yoga community class this coming Saturday, June 13 from 10-11:30am. It's very short for a cooking class but just enough to finish a batch of noodles by hand and get a little work out kneading.  I consider making soba, yoga so if you want to explore this idea, join me. To register, e mail me at [email protected]


Umeboshi Pickling Workshop

Posted on May 27, 2015 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Japanese Umeboshi (Salted Plum) Pickles

This is one of the classic pickles of Japan made from a type of green sour apricots (ume). My summer memories of growing up in Kamakura centers around making umebosh (salted plums)i and umeshu (plum wine) with my grandmother in June. Umeboshi is  an ancient medicinal food to aid digestion. I can't think of another Japanese food that is revered as much as umeboshi.  Here is a story I wrote years ago for Saveur about my grandmother's umeboshi  

Umeboshi makes a delicious filling in rice balls. It is also used to season meats, fish and vegetables. You can also have it with green tea. Since umeboshi is a pickle, it is naturally salty, so you should eat it in moderation.

In the umeboshi making class class last sunday, we used our hands extensively.  Our finger tips turned he color of berries or fushia. Liisa, one of the students wanted to take home the leftover juice of the shiso leaves that is used to dye the plums.  She wanted to dye her pjs into that fucia pink.

Local ume is expensive but the fact that they are available is better than nothing. At 50 cents a ume, you can't make too many mistakes.  I am hoping that the ume go down in price, as more people discover the wonders of umeboshi. Otherwise, I have to plant my own ume tree soo.

I did the class so students can see umeboshi in different stages pickling stages - soaking the plums in water, brining the plum sto extract the vinegar, and how to dry them in the sun to further tenderize and deepen the flavors.  

We tasted commercial and homemade umeboshi. Everyone liked my homemade better because you could taste the fruit and homemade doesn't contain all the chemical preservatives like food coloring and MSG. I couldn't recommend a single umeboshi from the market, except what you can get on line - Ozuke and Eden's umeboshi which are organic and don't contain any chemical preservatives.  

Bento Box/Soba Workshops - Two On May 21

Posted on May 10, 2015 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)
I will be back at Gourmandise Cooking School to teach a class in Bento Box making and Hands on Soba Noodles.  If you like to take both workshop, you can do them back to back and hang out with me in the kitchen all day. It will be fun!" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Here is the link to register.

Soba Workshop May 23

Posted on May 8, 2015 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I am going to be selling soba-to-go at Arroyo General in Highland Park starting in late May.  Visit their website for the exact date.  I will also be teaching a soba workshop on May 23. Please register through  

Soba in the making

Japanese Pickle Workshop: Koji and Nuka

Posted on May 8, 2015 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I am very happy to work with Arroyo General, a beautiful shop in Highland Park.  They are promoting my upcoming classes, so be sure to check this link for details about my Pickle class and Soba class in May.

Quick Radish Pickled Onigiri

Hakusai Pickles in the making

Kimchi Workshop April 25 10 am -1pm

Posted on April 6, 2015 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

This is the first Asian pickling class I will be offering.  My friend Sonya Chun has been treating me to her mother's delicious kimchi for sometime, so one day, I asked her if I can learn how to make that kimchi. She said, of course, let's do a workshop.  That conversation took place last year. I have made kimchi on my own but you really need to work with someone who grew up with it, to understand the depth of flavors.  My research and trial workshop with Sonya started wth a trip to the Korean market and going through the produce section and spice section - you get a whole new perspective on what these ingredients mean to Korean people.  Fascinating. We spent the entire rest of the afternoon and evening making kimchi. It's quite laborious but well worth the trouble. Even the lightly pickled kimchi tastes delicious. Wait till the fermented ones. In our Kimchi workshop, we will try to give you as much information as possible, so you can incorporate what I learned from Sonya.

Class description:

KImchi & Beyond... If you love Korean food but have been timid about cooking it at home, the best place to start is by learning how to make kimchi. Kimchi is rich in vitamins and minerals and fiber. This “soul food” of Korea often appears on “super food” lists. There are over 200 different kinds of kimchi. Sonya Chun, Sonya's mother, and Sonoko Sakai will guide you through three types of kimchi including the classic whole cabbage kimchi, delicious citrus “water” kimchi, and a fresh seasoned kimchi. You will learn to prep, taste, and understand the fermentation time. Your class will be followed by a delicious lunch of Pa-Joen (Korean Chive Pancake with shrimp & pork),Citrus “Water” Kimchi, Nyeng Myun (Cold Korean Buck Wheat Noodle Soup), Freshly Seasoned Kimchi, & Classic Napa Cabbage Kimchi. Dessert of Homemade dried Persimmon, in a ginger and Cinnamon soup. April 25 from 10 -2 pm. $95. You will take home the classic Cabbage Kimchi to complete the fermentation.  To register E mail [email protected]

Soba Workshop April 18, 2015

Posted on April 3, 2015 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The April soba workshop will feature "fresh bamboo" from Penryn Farms.  I have been buying bamboo from farmer Jeff Reiger for three years in a row.  He knows to alert me when the shoots are coming up. Where else in America does that happen?  I feel so lucky and his bamboo shoots are absolutely delicious. If you want to join me on April 18, please e mail me at [email protected]

Tehachapi Lilacs

Posted on April 3, 2015 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The lilacs are in full bloom.

JCCNC Rice Workshop March 21, 2015

Posted on March 12, 2015 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)





I am heading to the Bay Area to teach a class on rice, one of my favorite topics. At this workshop, I will be featuring rice in all forms: Fresh and Fermented, Sweet and Savory. Come join me at JCCNC. This place has become my community away from Los Angeles.




Seasoned rice dish with sukiyaki beef, shirataki and pickled ginger

Chirashi Sushi with Seasfood, sesame and shiso

Miso Soup with Fava, tofu and herbs

Fermented Nuka pickles from scratch

Shitarama with Adzuki bean paaste

wuith Okinawa brown sugar syrup




For more information visit


Fee: $100


You will take home Nuka for your pickles


Jcccnc 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco Tel 415-567-5505




Gluten Free Soba Noodles Workshop - March 14, 2015

Posted on March 8, 2015 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)
Soba Workshop in Highland Park on March 14, 2015
Hours: 11-2pm

I just received 100 lbs of stone-milled buckwheat from Japan.
Will be offering a hands-on experience making noodles.
We will do tastings of three types of noodles - zarusoba classic, soba with walnut sauce and duck soba in a hot broth.
Some homemade koji pickles and Shiratama rice desert will be part of the tasting menu.  Fee: $95
To register, please contact [email protected]


Onigiri Workshop for Children

Posted on February 12, 2015 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Join me for a hands on Childrens Onigiri Workshop in Highland Park on February 28 from 11-2pm. $25 to participate.

For details, contact me at [email protected]  

SHED Rice Workshop, featuring Onigiri

Posted on January 26, 2015 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Workshop from 11am - 2pm on 2/6 $95


In the United States rice is often served as a side dish, but in Japan, rice is the centerpiece of a satisfying meal. Rice is nourishing, delicious, versatile and gluten-free. Join Sonoko Sakai, Japanese food writer and teacher, and Robin Koda, proprietor of Koda Farms, the oldest rice farm in California, as they share their knowledge and passion for rice.

Sonoko will teach a variety of classic and modern Japanese rice dishes using brown, white rice, mixed grains, and legumes while Robin will share her expertise on growing and cooking rice. Participants will learn how to make plain and sushi-style Onigiri rice balls, winter soup with Kabocha and scallion miso and Nuka pickles. For dessert students will make shiratama mochi balls with sweet azuki bean paste. After the hands-on lesson, we will sit down for a communal meal of all the things we’ve learned to prepare.


Students will take home Nuka base and complete the fermentation at home. Please bring a cutting board, kitchen knife, a plastic or glass container (3 cup size) with a lid, and an apron.


Sonoko Sakai is the founder of Common Grains, a project dedicated to providing a deeper understanding and appreciation for Japanese food and culture. She is currently working on a rice themed cookbook titled Ricecraft (to be published by Chronicle Books in Spring 2015).


Robin Koda is a third generation Japanese-Californian rice grower who, along with her brother, farms, mills, and packages heirloom rice on their homestead in the San Joaquin Valley. Koda Farms is the oldest family owned and operated rice farm and mill in California. It was Robin’s love of the cycles of rice cultivation that brought her back to the ranch after earning an MFA from the School of the Chicago Art Institute.


All workshop participants will receive 10% off in SHED’s retail store and cafe the day of the workshop, perfect for stocking up on cooking supplies to make Japanese food at home.


Common Grains - Grain Growing Project

Posted on January 21, 2015 at 3:20 AM Comments comments (1)

A wonderful story in the Los Angeles Times about our grain growing project.  It was no small effort - that was for sure..  But I am happy we have come this far.  We still have a ways to go before we see local flour but
we are almost there. Maybe this fall!  Here is the link to the full story.