On September 18, 2023, SUGIMOTO Shiitake sponsored a Vegan Ramen Cooking Class at RESOBOX’s East Village location in New York City. Participants took on the challenge of cooking with Dried Shiitake, a traditional Japanese ingredient that is still new to many outside of Japan.
The instructor was Ms. Yukiko Matsumoto Gillam, a graduate of Ecole Tsuji Tokyo Japanese Cuisine Master College and FFCC’s basic French course. She has trained in Michelin-starred Japanese cuisine and at a French restaurant in Kagurazaka, and has also been an assistant in Indian cooking classes, possessing a wide range of culinary skills and experience.
The recipe for the vegan ramen was devised by Yukiko specifically for this class. The soup, packed with umami and richness, was particularly exquisite. It was completed after much trial and error, combining various ingredients and adjusting the proportions until the right balance was achieved. Furthermore, to enable the students to recreate it at home, the ingredients were adjusted to those available in the United States.
Making Noodles and New Friends
For this event, Kazuhide Sugimoto, the president of SUGIMOTO Shiitake, timed his visit to the U.S. to coincide with the class so that he could participate. Dressed in a Shiitake costume, he fostered a friendly atmosphere as the class began with handmade noodle-making. He then explained the nutritional benefits and uses of Dried Shiitake, followed by a demonstration of the ingredients and process of making the soup. Participants stretched, cut, boiled, and served the noodles, enjoying the freshly made dishes together.
Among the participants were couples, friends, and individuals who came on their own. Everyone showed strong interest in Japanese cuisine and ingredients, with questions flying back and forth about kombu, sesame oil, and miso, filling the class with excitement. Once the ramen was finished it was very well-received, with some participants asking for seconds.
The Growing Potential of Dried Shiitake in the U.S.
Recently, Dried Shiitake has become commonly seen even in major supermarkets like Whole Foods. At this class, the response to SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s mushrooms was very positive, highlighting the high level of interest in traditional Japanese ingredients in the U.S. However, even among participants interested in Japanese cuisine, some were not fully familiar with the uses of Dried Shiitake. Ms. Giram Matsumoto commented, “Dried Shiitake can be stored for a long period, is high in nutritional value, and is flavorful, so we expect it to become even more widely used. I would be happy if we could convey this to more New Yorkers through cooking classes like this one,” sharing her excitement for future class offerings.
We plan to continue holding vegan cooking classes using shiitake mushrooms, so please look for future installments.RESOBOX conducts various cultural classes to promote Japanese culture. We also work directly with companies interested in offering classes to their employees, so if this sounds appealing, please feel free to consult with us.