Taste of Okinawa

- Posted in cooking

When I was on holiday a few months ago, I took a cooking class at Taste of Okinawa. I finally got around to writing a bit about it.

The dish I made.

The cooking class took place in Naha, Okinawa. Naha is the capital of Okinawa, which is a series of islands in the south of Japan. These islands used to be their own kingdom before becoming what is now known as Okinawa.

The influence of the US — who attacked Okinawa during WWII — can really be felt when you’re there. There are several US military bases on the island and even in the food you’ll sometimes find a US influence with dishes like taco rice (my favorite!) or cans of spam in stores.

Taste of Okinawa is kind of a restaurant/bar that also offers cooking classes. The cooking classes are held in a neat cool space that has 2 big tables and a bar. It is located in a shōtengai, which is a covered arcade full of shops.

Shōtengai (商店街)

When we arrived we found out there were only 2 participants, me and a friend. For me this was great since this meant we would get all the explanation we wanted.

First we went on a tour of the nearby shops. We got explanations about specific ingredients and got to taste some as well.

I loved the fresh market with a wonderful selection of fish. My goal to eat a live shrimp was not fulfilled but the selection there was simply amazing.

A local variety of spring onions that look decidedly different than regular ones

Fish cake – Not exactly my favorite

You can literally buy a full pig face.

Huge shrimps, looking delicious.

Oh my god. King of lobsters.

King of lobsters II.

A sweet array of fish. The green one is a parrotfish.

This is the poisonous fugu.

During the tour we got to see how bonito flakes get shredded; we compared Okinawan spring onions to regular spring onions; and we stopped to eat some very savoury pig that reminded me of my trip to the Philippines.

If you are just visiting Naha and not specifically taking a cooking class you can visit the fresh market yourself, buy a fish, and have it cooked in the restaurants above the fresh market.

(The day after I did just that and ate an epic crab soup for the sweet sweet price of ¥1100 (about €8,5).)

Epic crab soup for a measly price.

Owatta*! (Finished.)

After the shopping tour we went on to do some actual cooking. We made an starter course and a main course. The dessert we had bought at the market.

Cutting noodles.

Finished result.

First we made pasta for our own soba noodles; and then got some practice cutting veggies with various cutting techniques.

This inspired me to get a really good chef’s knife (see: my blog post about Kappabashi).

We made tare (I knew this from Alex’s video on this) and a bonito-based stock.

With cooking there is usually a lot of prep involved and the class had a nice balance between having ingredients ready to go and having us as participants prepare some things ourselves.

After enjoying our dish, we got a neat bundle with the recipes for home use. The restaurant also has a craft beer selection so we hung around and enjoyed some beers before going back to our place.

Mmm fresh noodles

I like these small induction stoves
– they seem to be popular with Youtubers as well.

End result, again.

All in all this was a really enjoyable experience, and an absolute recommendation to spend a relaxing afternoon when you’re visiting Okinawa.

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