For my best friend’s birthday last year I bought her a voucher on Groupon for a sushi making class for two people. This is because we’d both travelled to Japan in 2010 which is when I fell in love with everything Japanese. So this birthday had a Japanese theme to reminisce about those good times. This involved a gift of a Sushi Making Kit, dinner at a great Japanese restaurant in London and this voucher for a sushi making class. I bought it with the intention for us both to go together, so I was very excited to be a part of this experience as I love learning how to make new things.
Although booking a slot took a while with the lack of an online booking system, we finally managed to set a date and off we went to Hammersmith to take the class at Suzu Japanese restaurant.
Once seated at our table, I got instantly excited seeing our kit ready for use! The owner of the restaurant, Miss Makiko Tamaki, was the teacher and I found the class very informative. We were also given a small cup of Plum Wine each, but obviously I didn’t have mine as I don’t drink alcohol.
The first thing we learnt to make was the cucumber sushi rolls which I believe are called Kappamaki (I could be wrong). Considering that this was my first attempt at making any type of sushi, I was pretty impressed with myself. I was surprised at how uncomplicated it actually was, but I definitely needed more practise to perfect it.
What amazed me was learning how much rice was needed for the roll. I assumed it would be a lot but we were told it was the size of 2 medium eggs. I loved the way the comparisons were explained because it made it so much easier to understand rather than by it’s weight. But we were told it had to be spread out completely on the seaweed surface, leaving a small gap at the top to allow the roll to seal.
The next thing we learnt to make was Nigiri using rice and fresh salmon. I have to admit, I messed up on my first attempt and was accused of ‘killing Nemo’ (it was funny at the time – you really had to be there to see how bad it looked). However, we weren’t shown how to cut the fish, which I was a little disappointed about because when at home I’d assume that would be very useful to know.
To be honest the Nigiri was the easiest thing to make, but this was the hardest to explain. Being seated at the back of the class, I wasn’t able to see exactly what shape the rice ball was meant to be. It was meant to be the size of a large cherry, then shaped into an oval with one slightly flat side for the base. The fish is then DELICATELY moulded around it, which should drape over the sides. This tasted INCREDIBLE. The fish was so fresh, it didn’t smell whatsoever and it just melted in your mouth, YUM!
The last roll we learnt to make was the inside-out roll which is commonly known as the California roll because it’s not actually Japanese at all. It was invented in the US by Westerners, for Westerners apparently. This is where the rice is rolled on the outside and we had a salmon and avocado filling.
This one was the most complicated one as spreading the rice to cover the whole surface area of the seaweed was actually quite an effort, especially without squashing the rice too much. The teacher set a competition to see who could make the best roll – without telling us what the criteria was. The winner would win a bottle of sushi rice vinegar. Now, I can get pretty competitive so I was really concentrating.
In the end, I got some brilliant feedback on mine, but I didn’t win because you could see a tiny line of seaweed at the joint of the roll. If only I had covered the seaweed with rice a little higher, I could’ve won it – I’m sure! Anyway, the important thing to know is the amount of rice needed – the size of a medium avocado. And the main thing to note from this whole experience is not to be tempted to add any additional rice – there is already enough, you just have to try and spread it wisely.We were able to either eat our sushi rolls at the class, or we could take them away with us in this pretty container (with a lid). I took the majority of mine back and shared it with my flatmate – it tasted so good! I wish we could’ve made one more style of roll, but you get what you pay for, right?
We were also given instructions on how to cook the perfect sushi rice for 2 or 3 people, which you can see below.
3 cups (600ml) Sushi Rice
120ml Sushi Vinegar
- Wash rice thoroughly
- Leave it on a sieve to drain for at least 30 mins
- Put rice and water in a cooking pot with lid
- Cook on a medium heat for 10-13 mins
- Wait until water is boiled and turn the heat down low – do not open the lid!
- Wait 30 second with low heat then turn it off
- Leave it for at least 10-15 mins
- Transfer into a large bowl with a big flat surface if possible
- Add 120ml of sushi vinegar straight after the rice is ready
- Mix with a big wooden or plastic spoon gently until mixed well
- Wait for it to cool completely before use to allow the rice to soak all the vinegar – at least 10-15 mins.
The best advice we received on the day was information on the type of fish we use. It was emphasised that we should NOT use fish bought from the supermarket, because it is not suitable to eat raw. The recommended place to buy it was from her trusted supplier, Atari-ya Foods, who sell fresh seafood and Japanese foods all around London.
Normally I would be sceptical of this piece of advice, thinking that maybe it was just a way to increase business, but after this experience and tasting the quality and freshness of the fish, I have no doubt Makiko knows what she’s talking about.
I’m not sure If I would’ve bought the class outside of the Groupon offer, not that there is much of a difference in price, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I know my friend did too. We were given our rolling mat to take home with us too!
Now onto the next challenge… any suggestions anyone?