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I'm Demo-ing Japanese Food: Help!

I'm doing a demo on Japanese cuisine next week and I've got to come up with something that's relatively simple to make, cheap, and easy enough to have 20-30 people taste (teenagers included) . Since the topic concerns the diversity of Japanese food, I will NOT be demo-ing sushi (however easier that might be). I'll have to prepare some in advance (so that guests will be able to taste) and will need it to be able to hold (hot or cold) for a good amount of time. I'll have 30 minutes to complete the demo/tasting.

I'm a seasoned chef, have access to a Japanese supermarket, and have a good understanding of Japanese cusine, but for some reason i'm coming up blank...I thought about making fresh soba, as i'm familiar with making pasta, but after watching a couple of japanese chefs make it on youtube, I don't know if I'm up to the task...Any ideas fellow CH'ers have will be more than appreciated.

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    1. Items that demo well at my local japanese supermarket are gzoya w/ dipping sauce, the infamous curry over rice from those roux blocks, oden soup, udon soup (for the soups I think they snip the noddles so they are managable in a tasting cup), cold tofu with various seasoning flakes (forgot the name- "furi-something"), miso soup, and that bbq eel on toothpicks.

      1. Beef tataki might make a nice demo, since it is quick, easy, but demonstrates a lot of different techniques.......searing, marinating, and delicate knife-work. The marinade is standard (vinegar/soy/sake + any spices) and a pound or two of meat would yield more than ample slices for 20-30 to sample. The only possible issue is that since the meat is cooked by the vinegar, the rawness might scare some away from trying.

        Another idea would be to make good, "scratch" miso soup from bonito, konbu, and miso. It goes quite fast and the only hard "take home" issue is that it's very hard to measure bonito flakes except by weight, requiring a good scale.

        1 Reply
        1. re: algorithmnation

          Scratch miso was one thing I was thinking about...whilst in Japan this summer I picked up the bonito fish and a shaver, Katsuo Kezuri-Ki, which I'd like to use for the demo...i'm playing with okonomiyaki, but I'm also contemplating making fresh soba from scratch, which is where my lack of experience comes into play...anyone make fresh soba at home??

        2. How about Tonkatsu? That should be pretty easy to make, be palatable to a wide variety of people.

          1. For something that is actually cooked, easy, popular and cheap, what about edamame?

            For something easy & quick and extremely flexible, how about okonomiyaki?

            A nice spread of Japanese pickles would be easy.

            Teas -- greeen tea, kukicha (roasted stems & twigs), and mugicha (barley) are three common ones. These are all available in bags. It gets much more complicated.

            Seaweed salad.

            Have fun! Let us know how it comes out!

            Richard