MasterClass – Niki Nakayama Teaches Modern Japanese Cooking

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred restaurant n/naka in Los Angeles, Niki Nakayama is celebrated for her modern interpretation of kaiseki, a traditional Japanese cuisine. With her partner and sous chef, Carole, Niki will teach you techniques for preparing sashimi, tempura, perfect rice, and more. Learn how to make dishes that honor fresh ingredients as Niki shows you how to cook with care and gratitude.

Lesson Plan

  1. Meet Your Instructor: Niki Nakayama
    Chef Niki Nakayama fuses Japanese tradition with Californian ingredients to redefine kaiseki cuisine. In her first lesson, Niki will share the challenges and victories she encountered on the road to earning two Michelin stars.
  2. Kaiseki Cooking
    Kaiseki originated from the multicourse style of dining practiced by Zen monks in medieval Japan. Similar to a tea ceremony, this elaborate meal is designed to slow the mind and attune the senses. Niki shares her modern spin on kaiseki.
  3. Japanese Pantry Essentials
    In order to prepare great Japanese food, you will need authentic ingredients. Niki shares tips for sourcing and selecting traditional Japanese ingredients.
  4. Ichiban Dashi: Kombu and Bonito Stock
    Learn how to make dashi, the deceptively simple broth that is a staple of Japanese cooking and the base for many dishes in this class.
  5. Japanese Culinary Tools
    For many of the techniques you’ll learn in this class, you’ll need some specialized tools. Niki gives you an overview of the essentials and shares some of her favorites.
  6. Rockfish: Whole Fish Preparation
    Learn to handle a whole fish with confidence as Niki shares a few professional tricks and demonstrates key knife skills.
  7. Balance in Kaiseki
    The order and composition of your dishes are key elements of the dining experience. Niki explains how to create balance in your meals.
  8. Zukuri: Modern Rockfish Sashimi
    Niki introduces Western ingredients to Japanese technique as she demonstrates how to prepare, cure, and slice rockfish for this sashimi dish.
  9. Owan: Soup With Bone Broth
    Learn how to create a delicious soup with no-waste cooking techniques. Niki shares her secrets for a perfect broth, as well as how to plate a bowl of soup.
  10. Tuna: Portions for Otsukuri and Yakimono
    In Japan, tuna is prized for its bright red color and eaten at celebratory occasions. Learn how to identify parts of the tuna, how to section the meat, and where to find ethically sourced fish.
  11. Otsukuri: Traditional Tuna Sashimi
    Improve your knife skills as Niki demonstrates professional techniques for slicing fish and making beautiful vegetable garnishes.
  12. Yakimono: Grilled Tuna
    When grilling, your choice of fuel will impact the final flavor. Learn the slow, subtle method of grilling over binchotan, a special charcoal used in Japanese cooking.
  13. Mushimono: Steamed Rockfish
    A light, steamed dish offers a heartwarming lift in the middle of a meal. Niki prepares steamed rockfish with potato purée and ankake sauce.
  14. Agemono: Rockfish and Vegetable Tempura
    Master the art of tempura frying, from selecting the right flour to keeping your batter cold. Niki offers suggestions for which vegetables and mushrooms are best for tempura.
  15. Agemono: Tuna Karaage
    Niki prepares a simple marinade for tuna in this dry-fried preparation. Learn when to fry fish and when to save it for sashimi.
  16. Donabe: Japanese Rice Traditions
    Niki introduces the donabe, a traditional clay pot, and demonstrates how to use it as she shares the significance of rice to Japanese culture.
  17. Shokuji: Rice and Pickles
    In kaiseki, the last course is often a simple bowl of rice with pickles. Learn how to prepare the perfect bowl of rice and how to reuse dashi for a pickle brine.
  18. Ichigo Ichie
    Cooking is about inviting people in, appreciating a shared moment, and enjoying each other’s company. Niki shares her personal philosophy for hospitality and encourages you to explore your own inspirations for cooking.

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