Hawaiian nights

Another day, another cooking class.

A few weeks ago I took a Hawaiian Nights class at the Dirty Apron (hands down best cooking school ever).

After a late-running Board meeting at work, a wardrobe malfunction (wearing a white cashmere sweater and forgetting to bring a change of clothes for a cooking class is ill-advised), a confused and scary cab driver and a cumbersome pair of rainboots, I made it to the Dirty Apron with two minutes to spare. I was greeted with a glass of champagne, fresh bread and tapenade, a booklet of recipes and a (as of yet clean) apron.

The format of the class is for the chef to demonstrate one course, before turning us loose to create our own. We then head to the dining room to eat our dish, accompanied by a glass of red or white wine or beer. In the time before the next course, the Dirty Apron elves clean our stations and set out the ingredients for the next course, so when we are done eating (or in my case, hiding half my meal away in take-out boxes for tomorrow’s lunch) we can do it all again.

We started with a tuna poke (apparently pronounced pok-ay, which is news to me) over a pan fried rice cake. This dish reminded me of the legendary (to me and my friends, at least) tuna tower at the now-closed lounge where I used to work, and ended up being my favourite of the night. The second course was a macadamia-crusted mahi mahi, over a fennel and papaya salad and topped with a coconut chili cream sauce. I’m normally not a fan of fennel or papaya, so I was surprised how much I liked the salad. For the main course we had a Berkshire pork chop, cooked suckling pig style, with a pineapple sauce, pan-fried taro root and baby bok choi. The dessert was pre-made for us, but we each received a perfect scoop of Kahlua ice cream to go with our tea and coffee to close out the evening.

I won’t try to describe the class any further – although I read a lot, my attempts at descriptive writing are influenced by my engineering background and as a result more closely resemble a chronological list of events – but I will say that anyone who likes to eat should try a Dirty Apron cooking class. And with that, I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.

Tuna Poke

Adapted from the Dirty Apron. The ingredient amounts are all vague guidelines; adapt as per your own preferences.

Ingredients

eight ounces sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna
one tablespoon sesame seeds (black and white)
one tablespoon soy sauce
one teaspoon sesame oil
one teaspoon ginger, grated (use a rasp)
one scallion (green and white parts), chopped
half teaspoon shichimi togarashi spice
salt and pepper, to taste
one avocado
one mango
quarter of a lime

Directions

Combine soy sauce, sesame seeds and oil, ginger, scallion, togarashi spice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Taste it and add more or less of anything/everything as needed.
Dice the tuna, avocado and mango to about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) cubes. Throw everything in the bowl and stir to coat.
Squeeze lime in just before serving. You can serve this on top of a fried ball of sushi rice, or with papadums, or with whatever else your heart desires.

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