Buddha Bellies Cooking School – Stomping on Udon

    Buddha Bellies Cooking School – Stomping on Udon

    “Alright everyone, the timer has been set to 5 minutes. Time to start stomping!”

    I never thought I’d be making udon noodles with our feet, and yet there we were, at Buddha Bellies Cooking School in Tokyo, on our first 5 minute round (of 3 rounds total) stomping away on our clear plastic bags filled with dough. It certainly is an unforgettable way to learn how to cook. Because sharing is caring, we’re going to share with you what it’s like to do a cooking class at Buddha Bellies and give you the most outstanding Udon noodle recipe as well!

    Back to the noodles. As we did our best Flashdance moves on our little bags of dough, our patient teacher Ayuko gave us the history of Udon noodles. Unlike pasta, udon does not contain eggs, and grew in popularity from one of Japan’s southern islands where they couldn’t grow rice, so they grew wheat and created noodles instead.

    Feeling pinspired? Hover and click on the images to save them to your Pinterest boards!
    Pinterest Udon Noodles
    Buddha Bellies Cooking School, Tokyo

    Buddha Bellies Cooking School

    Ayuko is the founder and chef of Buddha Bellies Cooking School. As a teenager, she studied in the UK and speaks excellent English. She was a teacher, but her love for food and cooking took her on a different path, where she studied to become a professional sushi instructor, Sake sommelier and professional cook. But rather than open up a restaurant, her love of teaching and meeting people lead her to open Buddha Bellies Cooking School, and how lucky for us she did!

    Cooking classes, Tokyo

    The Udon Workout

    We started the day with what I now like to refer to as the Udon workout – 3 x 5 minutes of stomping on the spot, mixing and kneading the flour and water into a smooth malleable dough. Then came out the udon machine (similar to a pasta machine) to roll and cut the noodles. We also learnt a bit about simple Japanese ingredients that can transform a dish. The simple sesame paste we made was out of this world and a recipe we will be attempting to recreate when we get home!

    How to make Udon Noodles
    Cooking udon noodles in Tokyo
    Buddha Bellies Cooking Classes

    Teriyaki and Udon = The perfect combo

    We then whipped together a teriyaki sauce and fried our chicken for what I can confidently say was the best chicken teriyaki we’ve ever tasted. And then came the udon. Boiled in water and then served in a warm, full-flavoured broth with mushrooms and tofu, these udon noodles were as good as any we had tried in a restaurant.

    Learning to cook in Tokyo

     

    Love Japanese food? Check out our other post on what to eat in Japan.

    Ayuko is not only a fantastic teacher, with a wealth of knowledge of Japanese cuisine and flavours, she’s a great host, who made sure we were comfortable throughout the day, topping up our water, answering any questions we had and even serving us beer and wine once our food was ready to be eaten!
    Japanese Food, Tokyo

    Heading to Japan soon? Make sure you read our Checklist on things to do before you go!

    Do homemade udon noodles live up to the hype?

    So does the udon live up to the hype? Yes. Yes it does. But don’t take my word for it; you can try it yourself! Ayuko has kindly shared her recipe with all our readers, so have a go and let us know how it turned out! Remember, as Ayuko says, “Fresh is best!”.

    If you are in Tokyo and would love to learn how to make delicious Japanese food, book a class with Ayuko at Buddha Bellies Cooking School, Tokyo – your tastebuds will thank you!

    Recipe: Udon Noodles

    Cooking Udon in Tokyo

    Ingredients (serves 1)

    • 50g Plain Flour
    • 50g bread flour (this has more gluten, and will provide the right texture)
    • 50g water
    • 1tsp salt
    • Clear cooking bags or freezer bags (you will need multiple, as they often split during the rounds)

    Method

    1. In a bowl, sift the flour well. In a separate bowl, stir the salt in the water until completely dissolved. Add water to flour and mix well.
    2. When the flour begins to form pieces of dough, stop mixing. Gather all of the flour and form into a ball.
    3. Place dough into a plastic bag. Put it in an additional bag to avoid mess. Make sure there are no air bubbles before doing your best flashdance routine (continuous stomping) on it for 5 minutes.
    4. After first 5 minutes of stepping, gather the udon dough into a ball again. Repeat steps 2 – 3 two more times (15 minutes of stepping total). If bag has broken, replace bag.
    5. Rest the udon dough ball in cling wrap for 30 minutes
    6. Spread the udon dough with a pasta machine (or rolling pin). Make sure the dough is 5mm thick. Use a little flour, fold and cut the rolled out dough into noodles.
    7. Put the udon in a pot of boiling water and boil for 2 minutes (or until it’s at the texture you like).
    8. Strain the udon and wash well with water to remove starch.

    After more fun things to do in Tokyo? Why not Fight a Sumo? Read about that crazy experience on our blog!

    Mentsuyu (Broth)

    Udon Noodle Recipe

    Ingredients

    • 100ml Mirin
    • 100ml Soy Sauce
    • 400ml Water
    • 4cm x 4cm Kombu (dried seaweed)
    • 10g Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

    Method

    1. Bring the mirin to boil in a pot
    2. Add the soy sauce, water and kombu all together and bring to boil again.
    3. Add katsuobushi and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain the sauce with a strainer.
      NB: If you are using this as a dipping sauce, you can use as is, however if it’s for hot soup udon, add more water to taste (to reduce saltiness)
    4. Add mushrooms, tofu and whatever else you like to the mix.
    Delicious food of Japan

    And it’s that simple! If you love udon as much as we do, have a go and let us know how yours turned out!

    A huge thanks to Ayuko for having us as guests at Buddha Bellies Cooking SchoolAs always, our opinions, terrible jokes and cooking results are our own.

    What to Eat in Japan – More Than Sushi

    What to Eat in Japan – More Than Sushi

    If you visit Japan and just stick to eating sushi or ramen, you are doing it wrong.

    Japan is a foodie’s delight, with a plethora of food options that will please all tastes. Fresh seafood, flavoursome soups and delicious street food are just a small selection of the food options for travellers to Japan. I was fortunate enough to spend a week exploring Osaka, Sakai and Kobe and found myself looking forward to each meal along the way. Here is a small selection of dishes you should try when visiting Japan:

    Okonomiyaki

    This might be my favourite dish when I visited Japan in 2016. To describe it best, it’s a mix between a pancake or fritter, with its main ingredient being cabbage. Okonomiyaki is a popular dish in Osaka, however other regions also have their own take on the simple-but-satisfying dish.

    Okonomiyaki - A favourite Japanese dish

    My first introduction to Okonomiyaki was during my first day in Japan. After a long 10 hour flight, and bus trip to the hotel, we were ushered straight to lunch at Fugetsu in Universal City. They prepare the Okonomiyaki in the Osaka style, however they top it with noodles (which is technically not the traditional way of doing it in Osaka, but nevertheless, I loved it!). What really makes this dish is the mix of the okonomiyaki sauce (similar to oyster sauce) and Japanese mayonnaise.

    Okonomiyaki with noodles

     

    Takoyaki

    I’m still on the fence with this one, as I’m not a fan of octopus, but am quite prone to gooey balls of batter and cheese. Takoyaki is a popular street food in Osaka, however Takomasa restaurant in Sakai have turned this common snack into a locally loved dish, served as a course with rice, salad and crumbed oysters. If you don’t mind the texture of octopus (rubbery, for the uninitiated), then takoyaki is a great on-the-go snack.

    Feeling pinspired? Hover and click on the images to save them to your Pinterest boards!

    Takoyaki - Japanese street food
    What to eat in Japan

    Udonsuki

    Udon noodles are one of my favourite types of noodles. Who am I kidding, I love all noodles! But, udon noodles have got a unique texture and are delicious in Udonsuki – a soupy mix of broth, vegetables, meat, seafood and, of course, udon noodles. Japanese eating culture is quite sociable and the art of sharing a large, communal Udonsuki is a great example of that.

    Udonsuki - Udon soup and veges
    Japanese food

    If you want to read more from my visit to Japan, read my posts Highlights of Osaka & Day Trips from Osaka at Mapping Megan.

     

    Shabu Shabu

    Another hot pot dish, this is a fun, social way to eat. You essentially order the type of meat you want (in our case, we had delicately thin slices of beef, pork and chicken) and the type of ‘soup’ you want. There are choices from a soy-based soup (which tastes nicer than it sounds), or your standard clear soups. Then, you pretty much cook your own meal, adding whatever vegetables and noodles you want to the bubbling liquid. Condiments are also provided, so you can add extra spice and flavour to your own individual bowl.

    Shabu Shabu ingredients
    Popular food in Japan - Shabu Shabu

    Kobe Beef

    I am a carnivore, through and through and love my red meat. After spending a week politely avoiding fish (which is harder than you think in Japan!), I was so happy to find out we were going to Kobe Plaisir, a restaurant that specialises in Kobe Beef on our final night. Perfectly marbled and seasoned just right, Kobe Beef is cooked in front of us by an experienced chef. Served with salad and rice, the beef is definitely the highlight, which just melts in the mouth. For our carnivorous readers, this is a must!

    Kobe Beef is a Japanese delicacy

     

    Katsu Curry & Rice

    This is one of my favourite comfort foods. It turns out it’s also a favourite for the Japanese Navy where (I’m told) every Friday is ‘Curry and Rice’ day. Typically Katsu is a thin, crumbed, pork or chicken cutlet, but with the deliciously rich curry sauce and rice, it brings the flavour to a whole new level. Although curry isn’t technically a traditional dish of Japan, they have certainly made it their own (and, in my opinion, made it better!).

    Bento Boxes

    Bento Boxes are extremely popular in Japan, with an assortment of meat, rice and vegetables, all beautifully presented in cute individual dishes in a box. Kinda like a happy meal, but for grown ups (and a lot healthier!).

    Japanese Bento Boxes

     

    Chawan Mushi

    When you think of egg custard, you think of a sweet, creamy dessert, right? Think again. Chawan Mushi is an egg custard dish, but savoury. It has a similar consistency of custard, but mixed with soy sauce, dashi and mirin, it is served as a dish with mushrooms and a meat. We had it at Kani Douraku (see below) as one of the crab dishes, and whilst a bit strange at first (as you expect it to be sweet), it is really delicious and smooth.

    Chawan Mushi at Kani Douraku

     

    Amazake pudding

    Whilst ‘fermented’ isn’t a word that brings deliciousness to mind, Amazake Pudding really is that (delicious). It’s essentially a fermented rice pudding, where the carbohydrates in the rice turn to simple sugars. It’s actually similar to the first stages of making sake. The result is a sweet, smooth and creamy pudding, often served with sweetened beans and jelly. This was one of my favourite dishes during my tour of Japan.

    Japanese Desserts - Amazake Pudding
    What to eat in Japan

    Delicious Crab at Kani Douraku

    If you happen to be visiting Osaka and love crab, treat yourself to a 5-course meal at Kani Douraku, the most famous crab restaurant in Japan. Kani Douraku is a very popular restaurant chain (with multiple restaurants found around Japan, with Osaka being the original and their main one). You can order individual crab dishes, or set menus. We had a 5-course set menu, and, let me tell you, each course was delicious.

    Crab dishes at Kani Douraku
    Crab at Kani Douraku
    Crab Sushi at Kani Douraku
    Crab Gratin at Kani Douraku

    You can find store locations on their website. Reservations are recommended.

    And, of course, Sushi

    The sushi in Japan is fresh and delicious. If you are like me, and are a bit of a wuss when it comes to spice, they put wasabi INSIDE the sushi, so don’t overload on the sauce before you have a taste. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! If you are a fan of sushi, a sushi-making-course is a fun and delicious way to pass a couple of hours!

    Home-made Sushi tastes better
    Japanese food is Oishi!

    We can’t wait to return to Japan in June and continue our food journey.

    What Japanese dishes do you like and think we should try?

    Tell us below!

    Street XO Madrid – Restaurant Review

    Street XO Madrid – Restaurant Review

    Street XO Madrid

    Situated just a short walk from the hustle and bustle of central Madrid, Street XO is three star Michelin chef David Muñoz’s side project and gift to the masses. If innovative and creative gourmet dishes served amongst a loud and theatrical environment and at reasonable prices are your thing, then Street XO is an absolute must when you visit Madrid.

    Entry to Street XO Madrid

    The entry to the restaurant gives you an indication of what is to come

    While Madrid has its fair share of foodie restaurants, they often come with extravagant price tags and must be booked well in advance for that ‘special night’. This is how we found ourselves scouring the internet trying to find fine, but creative dining without a reservation in Madrid and by chance, stumbled upon Street XO.

    Spanish wonder-chef Dabiz (aka David) Muñoz is well known within the culinary world for his three Michelin starred restaurant in Madrid, DiverXO. But his side project, the gourmet street food project Street XO, has rapidly gained the attention of the masses. This project aims to bring Michelin starred quality and flavour to everyday people at a price they can afford.

    Crazy interior of Street XO Madrid

    Not what you might expect from a Michelin starred restaurant, right?

    Taking the elevators to the 7th floor of the El Corte Ingles on Calle Serrano (see the map at the bottom), you emerge into a real foodie heaven. The floor is a gourmet experience, as beside Street XO sits an artisan ice-creamery and a cool little cocktail bar for
    pre-dinner drinks.

    View of the kitchen in Street XO Madrid

    The view directly into the kitchen where the magic happens

    We joined the queue waiting for seats in the restaurant around 9:30pm (this is Spain after all) and a short time later we were seated inside with an unobstructed view to the kitchen and the organised chaos which ensued. We took our friendly waitress’ recommendations on cocktails (they were fantastic!) and started to peruse the many delights on offer on the menu.

    Street XO Madrid cocktails
    Street XO Madrid cocktails
    Street XO Madrid cocktails

    For the first course, we chose a sharing dish, the Pekinese dumplings and Pig’s ear with strawberry hoisin sauce. We were hooked straight away! The dumplings were fluffy and juicy and the pig’s ear, while a first for both of us, was paired perfectly with the strawberry hoisin sauce.

    Pekinese dumplings and Pig’s ear with strawberry hoisin sauce

    Our first course: Pekinese dumplings and Pig’s ear with strawberry hoisin sauce

    So it was with much anticipation that we were delivered our next two dishes, served with excited explanations by the chefs themselves. The first dish: suckling lamb shanks, Jabugo soul glace with chilli garlic fried udon, vegetables and corn; and the other dish, skate ribs on banana leaves with Indonesian Sambal sauce and creamy, spicy ‘salmarejo’. The lamb shanks were roasted to perfection with meat falling off the bone and the skate ribs were basted in a tasty, but not too spicy sauce. Both dishes did not last long before we inhaled them.

    Lamb shanks from Street XO Madrid

    Suckling lamb shanks, Jabugo soul glace with chilli garlic fried udon, vegetables and corn

    Skate ribs from Street XO Madrid

    Skate ribs on banana leaves with Indonesian Sambal sauce and creamy, spicy ‘salmarejo’.

    By now hooked on the amazing flavours, we decided to go for broke and ordered two more dishes: the Korean lasagne with old Galician beef and goat’s milk béchamel sauce, shitake mushroom wontons and spicy marinated tomatoes; and the roasted bone marrow with churros and an ‘almost jalapeno’ gazpacho.

    Korean lasagna

    This was amazing: Korean lasagne with old Galician beef and goat’s milk béchamel sauce, shitake mushroom wontons and spicy marinated tomatoes

    Roasted bone marrow Street XO Madrid

    Roasted bone marrow with churros and an ‘almost jalapeno’ gazpacho

    We didn’t think our night could get much better, but we were so very, very wrong. The Korean lasagne was the highlight and skilfully mixed kimchee and Korean flavours with an eternal favourite, the traditional Italian lasagne. Although the roasted bone marrow was probably a little rich for our tastes, we enjoyed every mouthful and happily devoured every trace of it.

    Feeling Pinspired? Hover and click on the images to save them to your Pinterest boards!
    eating at Street XO Madrid

    Satisfied we had tasted our way through the very best that Street XO could offer, we departed content and very pleased with what had been a stunning introduction to Madrid’s gourmet food scene. In total, the five dishes plus four cocktails cost €110-120. Sure, it’s a little more expensive than your regular ‘Menu del Día’ at €10, but the food quality and overall experience is priceless. If you’re looking for a funky, creative food experience that won’t require a second mortgage, then be sure to give Street XO a try.

    Street XO customers

    Two very contented customers!!

    Street XO has since changed their menu since we visited, but we are confident the food will be equally as titillating and delicious as the dishes we tried. Enjoy!

    Where to find Street XO:

    Calle de Serrano, 52, 28001 Madrid, Spain (on the 7th floor of the El Corte Ingles building – Metro – Serrano station)

    Have you had a unique dining experience while travelling?

    Tell us about it below!

    Torrijas Recipe: A Heavenly Dessert from Spain

    Torrijas Recipe: A Heavenly Dessert from Spain

    Torrijas6Torrijas (pronounced tor-ri-ha-s) are one of the many guilty pleasure treats I learnt to make whilst living in Spain. When I first tasted them, I was surprised at how delicious and full of flavour a simple dessert could be. I swear from the first bite, my eyes became dilated and I felt like I had been transported to some part of culinary heaven. Guy, too, was pleasantly surprised when he had his first taste, quickly going back to the store for seconds! What are Torrijas? It’s the Spanish version of French Toast – but way better. Better because it packs a punch of flavour with the cinnamon and sugar added to the milk (or wine, if you are a little more adventurous!), and oh-so-decadent as it’s deep fried (like most of the delicious Spanish delicacies we tasted!).

    (more…)

    Malaysian Cooking at LaZat & Kari Ayam Recipe

    Malaysian Cooking at LaZat & Kari Ayam Recipe

    It’s no secret that we are foodies. We love to cook food almost as much as we love to eat it. Tasting dishes around the world is one of the things we prioritise when we travel. From learning how to cook croquetas in Spain, to finding new dishes I’m inspired to learn to cook in our own kitchen, our passion for food and travel is synonymous and something that connects us to the destinations we’ve visited, not only abroad, but back home too. With that in mind, I couldn’t go to Malaysia, a country that has an amazing cuisine, without learning how to cook some of the delicious dishes there. This is where LaZat comes in.

    (more…)

    Eating Our Way Around Penang

    Eating Our Way Around Penang

    Penang is known as the food capital of Malaysia, and it’s no wonder why. Every street in Georgetown, the most popular area of the island, is lined with restaurants, cafes and hawkers selling the most delicious dishes you can imagine. Forget all the temples on the island, eating is the true religion here, and one that all can follow wholeheartedly. Being the foodies that we are, we couldn’t visit Penang without doing a food tour of the street food capital. Junie from Food Tour Penang took us around to the best cafes, restaurants, eateries and markets, providing plenty of interesting commentary about Penang’s culture, history and food. (more…)

    Pin It on Pinterest