I work at a federal prison for women when (when I’m not cooking!) and was asked to put on a cooking demonstration for the Asian Pacific Islander heritage month staff event. Since it took place in the prison I could not take photographs which is why I only have the cover sheet of the recipe handout to show you. Earlier in the week I went to the Grand Prairie personnel center and taught an origami class, so this has been a very hectic week.
I have been very busy testing various version of the Japanese festival foods I enjoyed during my trip to Japan. Of course I have made all these dishes many times during my life but I never wrote down the actual instructions and quantities and I wanted to make everything from scratch, not use bottled yakisoba or okonomiyaki sauce or the worst, bottle teriyaki sauce. So, my husband got a little tired of okonomiyaki and yakisoba dinners while I experimented, but we did enjoy our experiments on the patio with my new clay yakitori grill and the little charcoal grill I purchased to compare charcoal vs. gas grill flavor. Charcoal won, by the way. One day my son, John David, was the chef and had a blast making the yakitori on the little clay grill. Then recently, I was testing yakitori sauces on a weeknight. I was out on the back patio which is right outside my kitchen door, with a glass of wine, grilling the yakitori and enjoying the evening air when my husband wandered out. We sampled a bite of the chicken and I decided we’d just sit down, have our yakitori off the grill for dinner–hot and fresh. That was a great dinner!
The organizer told me there would up to 100 people coming to the event which was a “lunch and learn”. The plan was to serve yakitori, rice, and salad as the main lunch and small samples of yakisoba and okinomiyaki after I demonstrated making them. I spent hours and hours the night before the event preparing all the ingredients, cutting chicken, making sauces, cutting up vegetables, and getting things organized. My plan was to have 3 stations set up with the main one for me to demonstrate the dishes during the presentation and then 2 other stations for volunteers to make both yakisoba and okonomiyaki while I was making it. This worked out very well. By the time I had finished speaking there were samples ready to serve all around the room.
During the presentation I spoke about my recent trip to Japan and the wonderful street foods.
The audience really seemed to enjoy hearing about the different foods served at Japanese festivals compared to the corn dogs and funnel cakes they are used to having at the State Fair of Texas. I was not expecting them to enjoy the okonomiyaki as much as they did, though.
I served it with cabbage, onions, pork, beef, chicken, bean sprouts and topped it with mayo, beni shoga, okonomiyaki sauce, and aonori. I forgot to put out the katsuobushi topping, but that may have been a little too strange for them anyway. So many people came back for more samples, asked questions about how to make the dishes, and simply thanked me for sharing these foods. The yakisoba was also a big hit and they could see how easy it would be to make it at home.
My friends who attended want me to have a party at my house and re create the same dishes.
After this huge crowd, a dinner party for 20 seems pretty easy.
My next project is the cooking demonstration at the new Azle Farmer’s Market, then the next day I’ll be doing a cooking demonstration for the Fort Worth Japanese Society, making some takoyaki and other things.
2 replies
  1. Nigel
    Nigel says:

    It's great that there was such a warm reception to your Japanese cooking. Where there any interesting comments? Do you have any plans to try a "part 2" with different foods? Also, I was wondering, were there any ingredients you had a hard time finding?

  2. Julia Dunaway
    Julia Dunaway says:

    Many people were surprised they liked the okonomiyaki since it was so strange to them. People kept coming back to get more and really seemed serious about taking the recipes and trying them at home. I don't plan to do a part 2 at work, however I am going to be the guest presenter at the Ft. Worth Japanese Society meeting on June 12 and I will attempt to make takoyaki. I have had a hard time finding good aonori so I've ordered it on the Internet, as well as some okonomiyaki flour.
    Right now I'm in San Diego and will go to the Mitsuwa store tomorrow, a huge Japanese supermarket, unlike anything we have in Ft. Worth.
    So excited!

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