Firstly, beef tataki. Rare slices of fillet were beautifully arranged across the plate to be topped with sesame sauce and deep fried garlic chips. The chips were a revelation; sweet garlic in flavour without any harshness. We gobbled this up quick smart.
Chirashi-zushi was up next. Flakes of salted cooked salmon was mixed into the already prepared sushi rice, to be topped with slices of salmon sashimi and ikura, those big round salmon roe. A thin-as-paper omelette was julienned and mixed in with the rice, with steamed pieces of tenderstem broccoli for colour. I was delighted that after watching it prepared, we got a healthy portion to scoff too.
Meanwhile, Reiko prepared the Mizore Jiru - a cloudy soup, the cloud being formed from finely grated daikon. Given it took all of about 15 minutes, I was surprised it was so flavoursome. Dashi stock gave depth while floating pieces of fried tofu sheet were spongy and sweet.
Lastly, a fusion dish - monkfish with porcini mushrooms and ponzu soy butter. I have a serious addiction to ponzu and have, at times found myself slurping it off a teaspoon, so when coupled with butter it was no wonder I loved this too.
Reiko was a calm, patient and entertaining teacher; on the surface, £260 seems a lot of money, but once you consider it's a lesson a week for four weeks and you get to eat 4 courses of the food that's made, it seems quite a bargain. Visit the website here to book; she also does one-off classes from £55.
Of course, cookery lessons aren't much use unless you can put them to practise at home. I had a bash at the beef tataki at home. Thinly slicing the garlic with my poor knife skills was a bit of a fag, but otherwise it was simple and delicious. I'm just sad I don't have such beautiful plates to present them on.
Serves 4 as a starter
300gr beef fillet
1 medium onion (I used red) sliced thinly
For the garlic chips:
4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced finely
A small saucepan
For the sesame sauce:
4 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp water
Firstly, the garlic chips, Heat the oil in the saucepan and add the garlic slices - you want to fry them on a low heat, so that they slowly dehydrate and not cook quickly. They burn easily so watch them like a hawk. Once it begins to colour, after 5 or 6 mins, drain on kitchen paper. Don't cook them as far as golden as they carry on cooking after draining. Reserve the garlicky oil.
Rub the onion slices with plenty of salt and then soak in water for 10 - 15 minutes. This will get rid of the onion harshness.
Brush the beef fillet with the garlicky oil and sear in a hot dry non-stick frying pan until nicely browned all over. In a bowl, mi the mirin and soy together. Once the fillet is cooked to rare - medium rare, remove and add to the mirin soy mixture, turning occasionally. Set this aside for 30 mins.
Combine the tahini with the soy and mirin that the beef was resting in. Add the water, sugar and rice vinegar and then stir well. It may look like it's splitting, but carry on stirring and it'll come together. To serve, rinse the onion in a colander then squeeze the water out and make a little bed out of it. Slice the beef thinly and drape across the onion, then drizzle with the sauce. Top with a sprinkling of garlic chips.