The Mystery of Dashi is Solved

Well, we set off on our next Japanese adventure to the city of Kyoto, #1 on Travel & Leasure’s world’s top cities. Kyoto is known for its thousands of temples, shrines, gardens, and geishas, none of these which we have seen yet.

We started off the day by taking two separate trains from Nagano. The first took us to Kanazawa, a city on the northern coast of Japan, where we had 15 minutes to change trains for Kyoto. 15 minutes may seem tight when you are traveling by plane, but by train, at least in Japan, is ample time. It took roughly 3 minutes to find our track and board our train which left us 12 minutes to wonder if we should have gotten snacks at the 7-11 we had passed. Needless to say, we love the trains here.

When we arrived in Kyoto we found more the same rainy weather that we had left in Nagano. So rather than casually strolling to our Airbnb we opted for grabbing some lunch in the train station then taking the local subway line 2 stops to our new home for the next 5 days. For those who have not traveled to Asia before, both subways and malls tend to have delicious food options. So, it took us a good 20 minutes to settle on a rice bowl restaurant that we both fully enjoyed.

After making our way to our Airbnb to drop off our bags, it was time to head to our cooking class we had pre-booked. We had quite the dilemma when we were originally trying to find a class. At the time we had been sitting on the floor waiting for the tuna auction to start back in Tokyo. Neither of us were interested in learning how to make sushi which seems to be the majority of the classes. We also realized that we were booking less than a week out so availability was limited. Luckily, Cooking Sun, the organization we ended up going with, had availability today (and only today) for their afternoon Kappo course and we jumped on it not really knowing what Kappo was.

When we arrived we were greeted by two very lovely hosts who would later inform us and the other (all Australian) attendees that Kappo tends to be home cooking that is cut with a knife and when served in restaurants it is done so from a counter where you can watch the chef. We were then provided with aprons and the cooking began! We made 7 dishes: Koya tofu – freeze dried tofu deep fried with a sweet sauce, Sauteed carrot and burdock, Beef roll, Dashi maki tamago – dashi flavored egg, Osuimono – dashi based soup, Takikomi Gohan – dashi steamed rice and vegetables, and Sweet bean jelly. When we’ve cooked Japanese recipes at home that called for dashi we would always just substitute chicken stock, but it turns out making the broth isn’t so hard. All you need is some water, kelp, and a hefty load of bonito flakes, then wallah, you have some dashi. Yes, it is very different from chicken stock. It was a great afternoon spent learning about Japanese flavors, cooking with chopsticks, and getting to know the other classmates. And in the end we were stuffed! We were also sad to learn from our classmates and the instructors that Kyoto would be in the middle of a typhoon tomorrow. Oh joy!

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After class our bellies were full and we were once again wet from the rain so we headed back to our apartment. Having to buckle down on a few upcoming travel plans, we spent the rest of the evening avoiding the typhoon by doing laundry and completing bookings that would continue to take us throughout Asia.

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Daily Walking Mileage : A sad 4 miles

Fun Facts:

  • There is a typhoon headed for Kyoto, set to arrive tomorrow
  • Lots of Australians visit Japan
  • Kyoto has way more tourists than Tokyo and especially Nagano

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