Next I made a list of possible dishes and then visited my local Asian market to see what they had available.
Here are the dishes I ended up making:
1. Soba Noodles
Soba is a very popular noodle dish in Japan that can be served in a variety of ways. I decided to serve the mori/zaru version, which means they are served cold with a chilled dipping sauce. I purchased a package of soba noodles and the ingredients for the tsuyu sauce from the Asian market. I found a good recipe for tsuyu from Alton Brown.
Note: Mirin, which is one of the ingredients in tsuyu, is a sweet cooking rice wine. I didn't feel completely comfortable serving something with wine (as little as there may be) to my teens so I went searching for an alternative. If you Google "mirin substitutions" you'll find some out there. I went with an alcohol-free mirin called Honteri, which I purchased from this website.
|Tsuyu sauce w/ soy sauce alternative for the less-adventurous|
This was the most popular dish! The teens loved the noodles and the sauce. I had 16 teens attend and 1 1/2 packages of soba noodles was plenty for the teens to come up and get seconds.
Also Note: I wasn't sure if I could make the soba ahead of time. I cooked it at home about 2 hours before the club meeting and by the time I was ready to serve the noodles, they were already pretty gummy. So I just ran them under cold water again to loosen them up and that seemed to do the trick.
2. Gomaae with Spinach
This is another popular dish. Gomaae is a side dish that's basically a sesame dressing. One way to serve it is with spinach. I found a recipe for the dressing here.
Note: I substituted the sake and sugar for the Honteri. I added the equivalent of 3 TBSP Honteri instead of the 2 TBSP sake and 1 TBSP sugar and it tasted fine.
|Dressing and spinach|
Pickles are a large part of the Japanese diet and I wanted to challenge my teens' taste buds. So I found a jar of umeboshi at the market, or pickled plums. These did not go over as well as the soba or gomaae.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake. The market I visited had several kinds, but I chose the red bean paste mochi. I had mixed reviews on this treat.
|Red bean paste mochi (left) and Umeboshi (right)|
Have you ever done a Japanese food tasting? What did you serve?
Also see my blog posts on sushi rolling and my Anime "Thanksgiving" for other food ideas.