As part of my birthday present from my folks (remember the watch!?) I also received an introductory course on sushi making in London. I LOVE sushi and would eat it every day if it wasn't for mercury poisoning and looking after my bank balance. However, I often fall into the trap of buying 'shitshi' a term I heard on the course, from places like Itsu, YoSushi & Wasabi. So when I can't afford to eat at Roka or similar swanky sushi venues, how can I make my own?
My mum had seen an advertisement in the Waitrose Cookery magazine (the Waitrose wanker gene is strong) for a sushi rolling course by Your Sushi. She thought it would be something I would enjoy and would provide some content for the blog, very thoughtful indeed. Soon after booking we had some lovely emails from Kiyoko and I was looking forward to making my birthday last that little bit longer.
The course took place at a little Japanese restaurant called Tsuru, near Bank (ahhhh how blissful the Waterloo and City line is on a weekend). I ensured my hands were clean before sitting down (as instructed) and greeted the rest of the course mates. Everyone was part of a couple, but my and my iPhone were just fine.
Once everyone was ready we were introduced to Clebson our sushi instructor for the day. He told us how he is originally from Brazil and has been making sushi for 20 years (20 years!?). I hadn't realised how crazy Brazil is for sushi, another excuse to visit South America.
We started with some sushi facts which I will share with you...
What is sushi?
One question I already knew the answer to (no I didn't put my hand up). Sushi is actually the rice, more specifically the treatment of rice with Japanese vinegar to help preserve the raw fish. Sushi is also an ART. There is a reason why it takes you 40 years to perfect it. Your should never refrigerate your sushi, it causes the sugar in the rice to crystalise. Legislation states sushi can be kept out for up to four hours (probably 6-8 hours at a push). We are talking fresh sushi, not 'shitshi'.
Nori is the seaweed paper base that holds the sushi together, it is also what gives sushi that slight fishy smell. After WWII the Japanese used the research of British phycologist Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker to understand how to harvest the seaweed for food*. She was hailed as the 'Mother of the Sea' and even had a statue built in her honour. Seaweed also contains a high amount of vitamin B1 which helps break down starchy carbs* (anything to make carbs more acceptable WIN).
*Such great information for my 'Walker fact' collection.
Treatment of raw fish in the UK
In order to lower the level of parasites in raw fish, EU law used to state that sushi chefs had to freeze and defrost the raw fish. Which affects the taste and appearance. Some sushi hero (not sure who) fought against this, so now only white fish has to be frozen first. Supposedly Tuna has to follow the same process but most chefs ignore this. Just make sure if you prepare sushi at home that you know where your fish has come from and how fresh it is (never buy supermarket fish for sushi).
Apparently the British use too much soy when having sushi (guilty). So if you ever feel like you haven't been given enough soy or wasabi, you are doing it all wrong. Also with ... rolls, you are meant to turn the piece upside down and dip only the fish in soy (guilty again). There are sushi chefs that won't allow you to eat at their bars if you don't know the rules, eeek.
So we had the theory, now for the practical. Clebson told us how we were going to learn two different rolling techniques Hosomaki and Futomaki.
Hosomaki, is a small roll (generally about an inch wide) with one filling. Here is Clebson making it look super easy.
Not. Lopsided. One. Bit. Everyone elses sushi was much better than mine. Queue determination to get it right next time.
Next up was the Futomaki which is typically a larger roll (2.5" wide) with the nori on the outside. Clebson really filled his roll, which is a sign of a good *non stingy with the fish* sushi restaurant.
Again, here is Clebson making it look super easy...
Mine (definitely getting better)...
We had time to make one more roll, so I chose to make another Futomaki, without the fancy leaves sticking out.
Voila, the finished article. Notice how I've hidden the lopsided ones :) also pay attention to the hero piece, I know you can see him...
We crammed SO much in for an hour and I thoroughly enjoyed it. At £50 a pop, it wasn't a steal but it was nice to do something different. Kiyoko is going to share an email with us on how to make sushi rice and Japanese rice vinegar, so expect more sushi related instagram pictures.
For those interested in trying the course have a look here. They also provide a more in depth course where you learn how to prepare the rice and fish. Clebson also works at Yuma Sushi in Richmond, I wonder if they deliver to Surbiton?