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Kaiseki – Japanese Small Plates Recipes

Kaiseki – Japanese Small Plates Recipes

We hope you enjoyed your class and are ready to recreate the meals at home. If you have any questions for chef, please do ask and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

We Cooked:

  1. Nikuman: steamed buns
  2. Harryhira dressing
  3. Tuna maki
  4. Fillet steak with ginger sauce
  5. Smashed cucumber salad (Sunomono)

Nikuman: Steamed buns


Makes 20 small buns

    • 300g all-purpose flour (plain flour) 
    • 20g caster sugar 
    • ½tsp salt
    • 1tsp baking powder
    • 1tsp instant yeast
    • 1Tbsp neutral-flavoured oil (avocado, rice bran, vegetable, canola, etc.) (plus more for coating the proofing bowl)
    • 160-170ml water (start with 160 ml of water and add more if needed; depending on the humidity in the air, you might need more or less)

    For the Filling

    • 2dried shiitake mushrooms
    • 120ml water
    • 1spring onion
    • 180g green cabbage (4 leaves)
    • 1/2tsp salt
    • 340g minced chicken
    • ginger (Roughly 1 inch, 2.5 cm; you’ll need 2 tsp for 20 buns)
    • 1tsp sugar
    • 1Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1Tbsp roasted sesame oil
    • 1Tbsp potato starch or cornflour

    For Serving

    • soy sauce


    1. Gather all the ingredients. I use a kitchen scaleto measure my ingredients. Prepare one square piece of parchment paper for each bun you will make, about 3 inches x 3 inches (7.6 cm x 7.6 cm) for small buns. Set aside.

    To Make the Dough

    1. Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, instant dry yeast, and oil in a large bowl. While mixing the ingredients with chopsticks or a wooden spoon, slowly pour the water into the bowl and mix with the other ingredients until they are incorporated and there are no dry spots of flour left in the bowl.
    1. Lightly dust your hand with flour to keep the dough from sticking too much. Use your hand to knead the dough in the bowl, pressing it down and reshaping it until you can form it into a ball.
    1. Sprinkle a working surface with flour. Transfer the dough to the surface and start kneading. This is how I knead: First, press the top half of the dough, pushing forward slightly. Then pull it back and fold it in half and press it forward again with the heel of your hand twice. Then, turn the dough slightly, about 30 degrees, and repeat this process. Continue turning and kneading the dough for 10-15 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and silky. Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of flour at a time to help decrease the stickiness.
    1. Form the dough into a smooth, round shape, gently tucking the loose ends underneath. Coat the bottom of the bowl with oil and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 30-60 minutes.

    To Prepare the Filling

    1. While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, make the filling. First, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in ½ cup water. Place something heavy on top to completely submerge the shiitake. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
    1. Thinly slice the spring onions. Remove the tough core of the cabbage leaves and chop the leaves into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces.
    1. Sprinkle the chopped cabbage with the salt to draw out the excess water.
    1. Once the shiitake mushrooms are rehydrated, squeeze the liquid out, cut off the tough stems, and mince the mushroom tops.
    1. In a large bowl, combine the minced chicken, spring onions, and shiitake mushrooms. Squeeze the excess water out from the cabbage with your hands and add it to the bowl.
    1. Grate the ginger (you’ll need 2 tsp for 20 buns) and add it to the pork mixture, along with the sugar, sake, soy sauce, sesame oil, potato starch/cornstarch, and freshly ground black pepper.
    1. Knead the mixture until it is well combined and looks pale and sticky. Set it aside (or cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge) until the dough is ready.

    To Form the Buns

    1. Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on the work surface that you’ve dusted with flour. Divide the dough in half and then roll each piece into a log. Cut each log into 5 even pieces and then cut each piece in half. You should have 20 pieces of dough. You can divide the dough into fewer pieces of dough to make bigger buns, if you wish. However, it’s easier to work with a smaller piece of dough to make nice pleats when you wrap because it’s hard to hold a big piece of dough plus filling in one hand. Form each piece of dough into a ball and dust the dough balls with flour to keep them from sticking to each other. Space each ball apart and cover loosely with a damp kitchen cloth to avoid drying out. Let them rest for 10 minutes.
    1. Take a ball of dough and flatten it with your palm. Then roll it with a rolling pin into a round wrapper. Here’s how I roll the dough: Hold the top of the dough with your left hand and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough with your right hand. You only need to roll up and down on the bottom half of the dough. After rolling 1-2 times, rotate the dough about 30 degrees with the left hand. Repeat this process until the dough becomes thin. The center of dough should be thicker than the edge.
    1. Scoop 1½ Tbsp of the filling (I use this 1½ Tbsp cookie scoop) and place it in the centre of the dough.
    1. Hold the dough with your left hand and seal the bun using your right index finger and thumb. First, pick up a corner of the dough with your right index finger and thumb and pinch together (left picture). Without moving your thumb, use your right index finger to pick up more dough and pinch it with your thumb while rotating the dough clockwise with your left hand (right picture).
    1. Repeat this process about 10-12 times (for 10-12 pleats) until you seal the bun closed by pleat and pinching the last piece of dough tightly. Tips:Your left thumb should hold down the filling while you use your left fingers to turn the wrapper. Use your left index finger to help pleat the dough. Also, lift up the pinched pleats slightly while you make a new pleat so the filling stays inside the dough.
    1. Once you finish sealing the last part of the dough, twist the pleats further with your right index finger and thumb to maintain a tight seal. If you’re left-handed, reverse the directions.
    1. Easy Alternative Option:Use shop-bought dumpling wrappers. You can use these straight away without delay, make the buns, steam and eat.
    1. Place the bun on a square piece of parchment paper that fits the bun. Cover the finished buns with plastic wrap and repeat this process with the rest of the dough. Let the buns rest for 20 minutes.

    To Steam

    1. Bring water to a boil in a large wok (or a pot) and set a steamer on top. Once the water is boiling, place the buns with their parchment paper squares in the steamer tray, leaving about 2 inches between each bun (as they will get larger while steaming). Close the lid and steam over high heat for 10 minutes for small buns (or 13 minutes for medium buns and 15 minutes for large buns). If you use a regular pot for steaming, wrap the lid with a kitchen cloth to prevent the condensation (formed on the lid) from dripping onto the buns. Serve the nikuman with karashi mustard and soy sauce. Enjoy immediately.

    To Store

    1. The buns keep well in the fridge until the next day and freeze well after steaming. Wrap them in plastic wrap and then pack them in freezer bags (I suggest to consume in 1 month). To reheat, steam the frozen buns for a couple of minutes.

Harryhira dressing

Ingredients – Serves 4:

  • 2 tsp of sweet chilli
  • 1 tbsp of sticky teriyaki sauce
  • 4 tbsp of ponzu
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Small piece of ginger, grated
  • Method:
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together honey and sambal, followed by ponzu and sesame oil.
  2. When all the above ingredients are well combined, add all the rest mix well and correct the seasoning.
  3. Serve with Nikuman, gyoza or other dim sum type dish.

How to Cook Sushi Rice:


  1. Use good quality sushi rice. (we prefer nishiki or koshi: Yutaka brand)
  2. 1 sushi roll needs about 100g of uncooked rice.
  3. You can soak sushi rice before rinsing for 20 minutes for more tender grains.
  4. Rinse at least 3-4 times under running cold water, until it runs clear.
  5. Rice to water ratio: 250g of rice: 330g of water.
  6. Place in a pan, cold, medium heat, no lid at this point, waiting to start simmer.
  7. After bubbles appear, place the lid on your pan, turn the heat down and simmer for 11 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat and let rest for 20 minutes, do not remove the lid.
  9. Add seasoning, mix well and chill well in a refrigerator before using. (ideally overnight)

Sushi Rice in a Rice Cooker:

Ingredients – Makes 2 to 3 Rolls:

  • 1.5 cup of sushi rice (we prefer nishiki or koshi: Yutaka brand)
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • ¼ cup of sushi seasoning


  1. Place the rice and water into a rice cooker. Cook the rice according to the “white rice” setting on the rice cooker.
  2. When the rice has finished cooking, rest it for 10 minutes to absorb all the extra moisture. Evenly pour the seasoned rice vinegar all over the rice. Toss the rice around to further distribute the rice vinegar, taking care to be gentle, and not mash the rice. Cool down properly, ideally refrigerate overnight.
  3. It is now ready to be used for sushi.

Sushi Seasoning:

Ingredients – Makes 1/4 Cup:

  • 5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 5 tbsp of caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 100ml of filtered water


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and cook until the sugar has dissolved, and the liquid has reduced down by half.
  2. Cool down completely.

tuna Maki Sushi

Ingredients – Serves 2:

  • 1 cup of cooked and cooled sushi rice (link to the recipe)
  • 120g of sashimi grade tuna
  • Any vegetables you like such as mooli, carrot, cucumber etc.
  • 2 sheets of nori seaweed
  • Kewpie mayo


  1. Prepare a small dish of cold water.
  2. Place nori wrappers smooth side down on a cutting board. Wet your fingers in a dish and place a small handful of cooled sushi rice on the nori wrappers.
  3. Spread rice to cover the paper, leaving 1″ of paper at the end of the roll. Place an even amount of prawns, mayo, and veg in a straight line.
  4. Dip your fingers in the water dish and wet the end of the nori wrapper without rice with a small amount of water so the roll will close and stick together.
  5. Slowly roll the sushi, making sure to keep some tension so it rolls tight, and no ingredients fall out. Repeat for the second roll.

Tips for Cooking the Perfect Steak – Main

Heat, heat and more heat!  Choose your steak well, ideally use the butcher but if you are buying at a supermarket, remove the packaging sooner rather than later.  Buy as thick a piece as possible, so if cooking for 2, buy twice the thickness and cut after cooking.   The meat must be at room temperature before you cook it, and it must rest for at least 5 minutes after cooking.  If cooking a bigger piece – it should rest for about half the cooking time. Never rest your meat covered with foil, the steak would get sweaty and it would overcook. you want it to cool down a bit while resting. You just put it back in a pan with a knob of butter and some rosemary, thyme and garlic and finish cooking.

Which ever cut you have, you just need your pan or a griddle pan, then you can finish the cooking in a low oven if it’s a thicker piece. 

If your steak has a piece of fat on it, leave it on to cook, you can choose to eat or leave.  But use the fat as a visual guide to cooking.  As the fat renders it colours and the flavour joins the juices in the pan.  If you have a steak on the bone – T-Bone or Tomahawk, cook with the bone in and remove before serving.  The bone adds flavour to the cooking.

For these 5-6oz fillet steaks, we are in the region of 1-2 minutes each side in a hot pan.  There are arguments about seasoning before or after cooking – both work….however do oil the meat directly…not the pan.  Don’t move it until ready to turn and when you have turned the second time, you will get a feel for how you like your steak to be cooked!  Don’t be afraid to poke it with your finger!

Ginger coconut sauce

Ingredients – Serves 4

  • – 1tbsp of olive oil
  • – 1 onion, diced
  • – 2cloves of garlic
  • – 3cm of ginger, grated
  • – 1 carrot, peeled, grated
  • – 1tsp of mild curry powder
  • – 2 tsp of Japanese curry spice mix (or madras)
  • – 100ml of veg stock
  • – Salt and pepper
  • – 300ml of coconut milk
  • – 1tbsp of light soy sauce


  1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan, add onion, garlic, ginger and spices, fry for a couple of minutes, add carrot, fry for additional two minutes. Pour in the veg stock and coconut, simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce the liquid, season well and blend if you prefer smooth sauce.

sunomono: pickled salad


  • 1 cucumber
  • 100g of mooli
  • 2x spring onion
  • 1x carrot
  • 1/2 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of caster sugar
  • 1tbsp of gochugaru flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of salt


  1. Beat the cucumber with a rolling pin until it’s cracked. This will help to absorb pickling liquid. Slice thinly.
  2. Peal mooli and dice it as small as possible.
  3. slice spring onion thinly.
  4. Peal the carrot and then use the pealer to turn it into ribbons.
  5. Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and gochugaru in a bowl and mix until sugar and salt have melted.
  6. Add all the ingredients and mix well.
  7. Wrap with a clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

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