Japanese government has already made a condition for a chef certificate qualification (調理師 – Chorishi) if I make it a graduation. There are many things I have to achieve besides learning how to cook good foods. So today I am going to share a story behind a wall what have I been learning recently in order to be a qualified chef.
Nutrition & Food Science
First, nutrition and basic science knowledge about foods are parts of curriculum. We started a class by what are nutritions, what do we need in each day. Then, we went through basic animal cells for meat and plant cells for vegetables.
To be honest, for a people like me who loves biology so much, these classes are a bit boring maybe I was just too tired because of daytime works. However, it became more interesting when teachers go deeper. The class made a big progress to things I didn’t know. I didn’t even know that our taste buds can sense a fifth taste called “Umami” from amino acids inside mushrooms, seaweeds, tomatoes, etc. This “Umami” is actually one of a main character in Japanese foods.
Around last week, the teacher explains the difference of red-meat fish and white-meat fish. Have you ever asked why Japanese sashimi have to be cut differently? Why red sea bream has to be thin but why maguro or katsuo can be served in a big slice? The answer behind this is a muscle fiber which is a main structure of each fish are different. Because a white fish has a thick muscle fiber, chefs require to slice it thin enough not to make it hard to chew. On the other hand, a red fish has a thin muscle fiber, so we do not have to worry about customers’ painful jaws.
In the next class, my teacher promised the story of dry-aged beef. If you have read my previous post, I’m really interested in this topic. I did dry a meat in my own fridge after a quick research from the internet. (You can read about it at At Home Dry-Aged Beef) I cannot wait to learn what he will tell me in the next class.
Next is food cultures one. This subject starts with a major difference of bread in western culture and rice in eastern culture (especially Asian culture). The main reasons that separate this wheat/rice culture are mainly weather and geography. Not only wheat and rice are produced differently but the under wheat coat is also too soft. We cannot separate the coat without crushing seeds inside as similar as rice. The wheat ends up being milled into powder and baked in to bread instead.
“the structure of the Japanese rice is shorter and fatter than Thai rice, streamed rice was filled with more amount of water and became more sticky and fluffy.”
After we went through wheat, we came back to rice story. For Thai people like me, we were curious at the first time we came to Japan. Why Japanese lunch box (bento) can be sold even it was cooked a long time ago. It is quite uncommon in Thailand to serve food like that. Because the structure of the Japanese rice is shorter and fatter than Thai rice, streamed rice was filled with more amount of water and became more sticky and fluffy. So, the rice does not become too dry and too hard to eat.
The class continued with the details. Why Asian have chopsticks?Why noodles started in Asia? Why hotpot is only existed here? Why European ham or sausage are quite delicious? and many other interesting topics are being clarified class by class.
Last but not least, it’s cooking time.
Here we are the main reason I believed why all of my classmates joined the school. At this school, we have 4 kinds of cooking categories as Japanese, western (mainly French and Italian), Chinese and Desserts.
Since we started it from the beginning, the class are going through the basic of each subject. First three cooking subjects start with how to hold/cut/use each knife. Japanese knives are for Japanese foods, western knives are for western foods and of course Chinese cleaver are for Chinese foods.
Each knife has different shape, size, length, weight. Therefore, we cannot apply only a universal method to use all of them. To be honest, even though I started to cook for many years, I don’t know how to handle these many kinds of knives efficiently. Seems like I really need to attend a school to master my basic first.
“If you don’t know how to cut ingredients into the same size, when you start to sauté them, we will find out the difference.”
For cooking, learning basic skills before going to advanced skills is still the best way to become a master. If you don’t know how to cut ingredients into the same size, when you start to sauté them, we will find out the difference. At the same time, some parts of minced onions might start turning brown (average size), some might be still raw (too large size) and of course some might be too dark (too small size).
When I’m drafting this blog post, I just finished a class how to squeeze the cream. This is also another basic that I does not acquire it yet. You can refer to a picture below. The lines are crooked and a flower varied in many sizes. The teacher said he will allow everyone to practice it almost every class. So, we don’t have to worry about this current product. I will try that and keep updating a progress later on.
To be continued …
Today I think I’m done here. Since the school schedule after working time is still too much for me, I need some time to adjust my stable schedule. However, I have something in my mind for the next post. I will get back to you again soon.
Before you leave, please let me know what do you think by leaving my comments/feedbacks. I’m really appreciated for every comments. Thanks you for reading again.
This post is also available in: Thai