Monjayaki – A kind of Goo, and Other Japanese Deliciousness. Cooking with Tim Anderson of Masterchef Fame.

mount-fuji-rising-above-houses-in-japanIt’s been a while, too long in fact since I have donned a Chef’s apron and spent time learning some new skills and techniques of the culinary kind so the opportunity to spend a day with the Masterchef 2011 winner, Tim Anderson was too good an opportunity to miss!

The last (and only) time I have attempted cooking Japanese was in January 2016, a Katsu Curry type of recipe which blended Simon Rimmer (of Sunday Brunch fame), with the Hairy Bikers and it did taste very good, so posted it on the blog so I could repeat if Bertinet Cookery School is in Bath, I have been visiting frequently over the last few years and been fortunate to spend some with some fantastic chefs. On the train journey in I searched YouTube for evidence of Tims’ cooking, other than the Masterchef series where I had seem him win in 2011, and found a few videos to watch and get into the were 9 of us cooking and I teamed up with David and Jamal as we set to the various recipes that were given to us at the start of the session. We were going to cook some of the food in Tims’ new book TOKYO Stories, which is an excellent read as it guides you through the city like a food tourist, providing hints and clues as to how to get the most out of the ‘bonkers’ city. Thank-you David and Jamal for being great companions during the cooking experience, your company and chat was really nice and made everything so how about ‘Noodles in a Bun’! Yakisoba Pan is just that, the finished dish is further up the page and consists of, yep, Noodles in a Bun. The trick is packing loads of flavour and texture into the Noodles and adding various accompaniments such as ‘Aonori‘ (Sea Weed strips), ‘Tonkatsu‘ sauce (like HP but better), ‘Kewpie‘ Mayonnaise (a richer umami hit than normal mayo) and pickled Ginger. it was surprisingly tasty and everyone was silent as we ‘chowed down’!photo-27-04-2019-13-39-40.jpgTim gave us lots of anecdotes and talked of his many travels to the ‘bonkers’ city that is Tokyo which was fascinating, explaining how things work so buy the book and you will find out all about it. Menchi Katsu was another interesting wholesome dish, spiced Beef and Pork patties which were bound with Panko Breadcrumbs, Eggs Yolks and Cream. Coated in Panko and deep fried they were rich and juicy.Photo 27-04-2019, 11 11 24It was a very ‘hands-on’ day, lots of prep getting dishes to a point of readiness and then cooking at the last minute. One interesting dish out of the menu used Salmon ‘scraps’ cooked into fried Rice, a great way of ‘eeking’ the last inch of flavour out of waste that would normally be thrown away. Tim showed us what to do before we all set about doing our own.Photo 27-04-2019, 13 10 39The sessions are always relaxed at the cookery school, but each ‘team’ creates a bond, shares life experiences and its amazing how you very quickly forget about the week before or think about the week ahead, there is a ‘bubble’ that you enter and its surprisingly relaxing, even though you are all busy, working together preparing great food.Photo 27-04-2019, 12 41 44We were progressing really well so our chef tutor Tim decided to go ‘off piste’ and chuck in an extra dish which he demonstrated to us. Monjayaki, a kind of Goo it’s just that, weird indeed, but, very tasty. It’s a ‘not omelette’ sort of dish, with various ‘stuff’, in our case Kimchi (made by the lovely Jen, head helper and overseer at the school), some sweetcorn out of a can, some spring onions and a ‘not quite batter’ which was the goo, finished with Mozzarella Cheese which melted and crisped at the edges. Photo 27-04-2019, 13 37 17Another ‘treat’ was a cocktail using a Japanese ingredient, Umeboshi a  dried fermented Apricot kind of fruit. We all tasted a small piece, KAPOW! A bit sweet, a bit salty, a bit sour, in a intense kind of way it was………interesting! Muddled in a glass with Gin, Vodka, Dry Vermouth, Sweet Vermouth and in our case Byrrh it certainly packed a punch, slightly sharp and sour but very tasty and went well with the food.Photo 27-04-2019, 13 43 59So, another fantastic day with a great bunch of people all sharing a love of food. The Bertinet Cookery school is extremely well organised, properly equipped and always uses top quality ingredients. Tim Anderson was brilliant, made everyone real relaxed and showed an extensive knowledge of Japans food culture, another day I won’t forget, and new skills to practise in the future.

In 4 weeks I am off to France again to the French House Party on another culinary adventure and will be posting pictures on Twitter (@Julian_G4UET) Instagram (g4uet) and there will be blogs updates each day If I get time.


………………………………….Until Next Time………………L8ers……………….



Hacker, Spell and Zen Buddism, all in a Curry and my take on Katsu

20160110_162239Having not been able to drive for 6 months a letter from the DVLA just before Christmas bought a big smile to my face, with Doctors exchanging letters I could get back behind the wheel as long as I met the conditions, which I did. So with the busy season out of the way a trip to our local specialist asian shop near Reading meant I could experiment with some more unusual ingredients, herbs and spices.

唐辛子 or Seven Spice Powder is a Japanese Spice Mix that is quite unusual, containing Roasted Orange Peel, Black and White Sesame Seeds, Ground (“Japanese pepper”) and several other spices to make a fragrant addition to a variety of dishes.

Trying to find this ‘special’ mix in the asian supermarket was proving to be a problem but a quick google bought up a picture of the bottle and it was staring me in the face from the shelf!!20160110_163938I had a helper for this exercise in oriental cooking, our son Justin, who is 9 years old. When I was at Junior School, I joined a cookery club which is probably where my interest in cooking started, we don’t have that pleasure at the moment but when I asked if he wanted to help me, his eyes lit up and we had some fantastic time in the kitchen.

There are many recipes for Katsu Curry on the internet, and Simon Rimmer cooked it on Sunday Brunch this weekend which was a real coincidence. My version is a combination of the Hairy Bikers version in their Asian Adventure book, and Simons’ although I replaced the Chicken which is traditional, with King Prawns.20160110_165054You need to dry roast the ‘hard’ spices first, Cumin Seeds, Coriander Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, Fennel Seeds, Green Cardamom (which I de-podded 1st, removing the green outer skin). Once you can smell the aromas wafting from the pan, transfer to a pestle & mortar and grind to a smooth powder. As we were adding ingredients to the pan, my little helper was inquisitive as to where all the spices came from, so we added a bit of geography to the cooking as well as sniffing each of them and trying to describe the smell! You will also need some Garam Masala and fresh Turmeric if you can get it, powdered if not.20160110_171927Once the dry ingredients were done (put a tea spoon of it to one side, you will need it later), we started on the Onion, Carrot, Galangal, Red Chilli’s and Garlic which are all gently fried in a little oil until browned and then the Spice Mix and some Tomato Concentrate added, cooking for a couple of minutes.

Then, Coconut Milk and Chicken Stock were added, simmering slowly for about 20-25 minutes. I had some home made Chicken Stock which I made a few months back and froze in 1 pint bags, much better than anything shop bought with minimal salt and no added nasties. Its worth spending some time making your own stocks and freezing them, healthy and minimal salt which is good for everyone.

Simon Rimmer went for Honey in his recipe as the sweetening agent, Si and Dave just say sugar. I have some Jaggery in the cupboard which is unrefined Indian Palm Sugar, toffee like and in blocks which you can grate into all sorts so although not geographically appropriate I used about a tea spoon.20160110_172300My little helper kept the questions coming as he helped prepare the ‘Katsu” Curry, once the sauce had been simmering for 20-25 minutes it needs processing or blending with a ‘Stick’, I have a trusty Swiss ‘Bamix’ which has interchangeable blades and must be over 15 years old now, it was a very worthwhile investment.20160110_193401-1Once you have blended the Sauce, pass it through a sieve as there will still be some fibrous material from the Galangal which will need to be removed, you should end up with a silky smooth delicious fragrant sauce which you can put to one side until you need it.

Now to the Prawns.

If you go to a well known high street store, you will pay £1.59 for 150 grms of Panko Breadcrumbs, find a decent asian supermarket and you pay about £4.35 for 1KG!! We are going to coat the King Prawns in seasoned flour and Panko but NO egg this time! I used about 3 heaped tablespoons of plain flour, added the teaspoon of prepared spice mix from earlier and 2 teaspoons of Shichi-mi tōgarashi or Seven Spice Powder, which is available in good Asian Supermarkets or mail order. The ‘glue’ is milk, which unlike egg does not shrink when cooked and tighten the prawns making for a much better end result.

Dust the Prawns in the Flour, using a slotted spoon, immerse fully in the Milk and remove quickly then into the Panko crumbs and thoroughly coat. Once done, the Prawns only need a minute in a deep fat fryer, drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. I had some quick cook Rice in the cupboard, which had a big handful of Coriander Leaf folder through and some fresh Lime Zest grated in and mixed. I served the Curry Sauce on the side with a couple of Lime Wedges.


This is a delicious dish to prepare and could be done in stages, i.e sauce on a Saturday and finish serve the following day. It was great fun to prepare with the little one helping and learning on the way. All the ingredients are easily available and you can substitute Chicken for Prawns if you want too.

If you are wondering about the title of this post, google Katsu and see what you get!

Until next time…………….L8ers………………..