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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

Ingredients: Makes 20 small buns.  

300g 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

Most well known with a pork filling, Nikuman buns are great as a vegetarian dish.  If you want to convert back to pork or any meat, replace half the cabbage as mushrooms with mince, it will cook through when you steam the buns.

200g dried shiitake mushrooms or use fresh mushrooms (you will need a few more as the shitake are heavier once soaked)

120ml water

2 spring onion

300g cabbage

1/2tsp salt

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

To serve:

Soy Sauce

Try wasabi paste or Japanese hot mustard, or mix some wasabi with mayo


Gather all the ingredients.  It’s easier to weigh the water.

Prepare one square piece of greaseproof paper for each bun you will make, about 8 cm x 8 cm for small buns. Set aside

To Make the Dough:

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.

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.

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.

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.  If your bowl is quite small, oil the cling film to prevent it from sticking to the risen dough.

To Prepare the Filling:

While you’re waiting for the dough to rise, make the filling. First, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in water. Place something heavy on top to completely submerge the shiitake. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Thinly slice the spring onions. Remove the tough core of the cabbage leaves and shred

Sprinkle the chopped cabbage with the salt to draw out the excess water.

Once the shiitake mushrooms are rehydrated, squeeze the liquid out, cut off the tough stems, and mince the mushroom tops.

In a large bowl, combine the spring onions and shiitake mushrooms. Squeeze the excess water out from the cabbage with your hands and add it to the bowl.

Grate the ginger (you’ll need 2 tsp for 20 buns) and add it to the mixture, along with the sugar, sake, soy sauce, sesame oil, potato starch/cornstarch, and freshly ground black pepper.

Knead the mixture until it is well combined and sticky. Set it aside (or cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge) until the dough is ready.

To Form the Buns:

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.  Start small!

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.

Take a ball of dough and flatten it with your palm. Then roll it with a rolling pin into a round wrapper. Keep rotating the disk and rolling until the dough becomes thin. The center of dough should be thicker than the edge.

Scoop 1½ Tbsp of the filling and place it in the centre of the dough.

Hold the dough flat in one hand and then with your other hand, pinch together with your finger and thumb to form a pleat.

Repeat this process about 10-12 times until you seal the bun.  It takes practice, but looks great.

Once you finish sealing the last part of the dough, twist the pleats further to create a tight seal.

Place the bun on one of your squares of greaseproof.  Cover loosely with cling and repeat this process with the rest of the dough. Let the buns rest for 20 minutes.

To Steam:

Bring water to a boil in a suitable pan to fit your steamer.  Put your steamer on top and once the water is boiling, place the buns on their paper squares in the steamer tray, leaving about 2 inches between each bun so they don’t merge.

Close the lid and steam over high heat for 10 minutes for small buns or longer if you went bigger.  Serve the nikuman with soy sauce and any other dips you like.  Enjoy immediately.

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 or mushroom sauce
  • 1 tsp of honey or agave syrup
  • 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 80-100g of cooked 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.  This will make more than 500g cooked rice
  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: We uses cups as a measure with the rice cooker as it keeps the proportions correct.  Most rice cookers supply a ‘cup’ when purchased.

  • 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 – you can store sushi seasoning or buy pre-made.  Make plenty and keep in sealed container.  When you are seasoning your rice, you want roughly one tablespoon per sushi roll.  But taste as you go for your preference.  This is the proportions.

  • 5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 5 tbsp of caster sugar
  • 1tsp of salt
  • 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
  3. Store in airtight bottle/ jar

tuna Maki Sushi

Ingredients – Serves 2:

If you don’t eat or enjoy raw tuna, just leave it out.  Avocado is a great alternative

  • 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 tuna, 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: 

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!

If you don’t eat steak!

Don’t panic, there are 2 great vegetarian alternatives that work with this ginger sauce.   The cooking process is remarkably similar to pan frying the steak, you can also roast.

King Oyster mushrooms, unless small, slice lengthways in half – lightly oil and season.  Heat pan and when hot, add the mushroom – you only need to turn once.  It will take about 5 minutes total.

Cauliflower – sliced into 2-3 cm slices.  Lightly oil and season.  Into a hot pan, it will take 2-3 minutes each side, flipping carefully with a fish slice or spatula.

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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