Japanese-Americans are learning traditional Japanese cooking

Cultural News, 2010 March Issue

Andy Matsuda’s Sushi School / Cutting board talk

By Chef Andy Matsuda

Chef Andy Matsuda Sushi Chef Institute

Chef Andy Matsuda (Couetesy of Sushi Chef Institute)

Japanese foods incorporate seasonality.  Unlike the desert weather of Los Angeles, the four seasons in Japan have nurtured the distinctiveness of Japanese cuisine.

When I presented a New Year program at the Japanese National Museum in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles on January 3, I explained that “mochi” (rice cake) was a typical food of the New Year celebration. I also demonstrated the cooking of Zoni soup with mochi. The Zoni soup recipes vary due to region and family traditions in Japan.

What surprised me was that the number of participants in my class was 60 people, double the original enrollment. From February, a Japanese-American women’s group of 12 has started to learn traditional Japanese cooking for special occasions. For example, I taught Chirashi sushi in the February class for the Hinamatsuri girls’ day celebration in March.

Learning traditional Japanese cooking is a good way for the third and forth generation of Japanese-Americans to learn about their heritage. And it is also needed for the younger generation of Japanese from Japan because their lifestyles here have become somewhat disconnected from traditional Japanese customs.

Andy Matsuda is the founder and the chief instructor of Sushi Chef Institute in Los Angeles. For more information about SCI, visit www.sushischool.net.