|Suzu Special Sushi|
Is Sushi really as hard to make as it looks? Well yesterday I found out for myself at a Suzu sushi-making class in Hammersmith. It turns out to be a sticky business but if you have the right equipment - well oiled gloves, rolling mat, a very sharp knife and a professional to help you- it's not so tricky after all.
|Makiki Demonstrating to Class|
Our teacher Makiko Mathews explained the long process of cooking the Japanese rice which involves washing the rice thoroughly, leaving it to drain in a sieve for 30 minutes, boiling the rice for 13 minutes, then leaving it to steam for 15 minutes, adding Japanese vinegar which is both sweet and sour and finally, leaving it to cool with the lid off for at least 15 minutes. Once cooked, the rice can be kept at room temperature for 10 hours. Luckily the rice had already been prepared, leaving us with the fun part of making three different varieties of sushi.
Makiki began by demonstrating how to make Maki Sushi - cucumber rolls - helping us with the first batch and leaving us to remember for the second batch.
Each student covered their bamboo-rolling mat with cling film, put on the gloves provided and dipped fingertips in sesame oil (it is very difficult to roll sushi without well-oiled fingers).
We then placed a sheet of seaweed on top (rough side up) and weighed out the correct amount of rice (the size of a medium egg). We evenly distributed the rice on top of the seaweed, leaving just the width of a baby finger clear at the top.
|Maki Sushi Cylinder|
After placing the cucumber lengthways in the middle, we used the bamboo mat to roll the sushi into a cylinder shape.
|Cucumber Maki Sushi|
Using the tip of a very sharp knife we cut the cylinder in half before cutting each half into three.
Our next task was making Sushi Nigiri with fresh salmon. This was a complicated business, as salmon is very delicate. We weighed out just a cherry sized ball of rice, squished it into an oblong shape and, using the crease at the base of our fingers, gently molded the slice of salmon around the rice.
|Makiki Slicing Fresh Salmon|
Makiki explained that only the freshest fish can be used for sushi; any supermarket products should be avoided, as you can never be too sure how long they have been travelling or sitting on the shelf. We were recommended Atari-Ya Foods fishmonger in London for the freshest and best quality fish. They are very accommodating and will even just cut you a slice of fish if you explain what you're making.
|My Sushi Partner Soffia- Tasting Her Creations|
Finally we were taught the trickiest sushi of all (so we were told): The Western-style roll or, in this case, the Suzu special roll. As sushi became more popular over the last 50 years, these Western-style rolls, were created in North America and Europe, and are actually rarely seen in Japan. The rice is rolled outside the filling, making these the most complicated to accomplish successfully. Oblivious to me (I was too busy covering my creations in wasabi and dipping them into soya sauce before happily devouring them), Makiki had set up a competition, with the winner of the best Suzu special rolls receiving a prize at the end.
|Suzu Special Cylinder|
We got to work, weighing a small avocado sized ball of rice and spreading it to cover a sheet of seaweed. We gently turned the seaweed, rice-side down and placed a baton of fresh salmon and avocado lengthways in the middle. This time we used the mat to roll the seaweed half way (to the salmon) before using our left hand to secure its position and the right hand to roll the mat, shaping the seaweed and rice into a cylinder. There was a little seaweed sticking out of the rice. I looked around and saw that most people had the same amount of seaweed or more showing. I didn’t think it looked right so I kept rolling my cylinder until the seaweed was covered and there was only rice on the outside.
|My Prize Winning Suzu Special Sushi|
It turns out I did the right thing for, after Makiki had inspected them all, she walked over to give me the prize – a bottle of the best sushi vinegar - and she showed the class my creation.
Feeling like the best sushi maker EVER, I left with a box of sushi to show the Vegetarian. I also had a sheet of instructions on how to make sushi rice, a sushi rolling mat, my prize of sushi vinegar and plans for a sushi evening to share my new skills with friends.
Visit Makiko Matthew’s Japanese Tapas restaurant Suzu in London (http://www.suzuonline.co.uk), join her sushi-making classes (http://www.meetup.com/Japanese-cooking-class/) or have her serve sushi at your next event or dinner party: firstname.lastname@example.org.