Sushi comes in many forms—the grab n’ go package, the dodgy half price buffet and, of course, the classy over-priced restaurant with the open kitchen so you can admire the chef’s handy work. Out of my experience in all three types of establishments, I always come away with utter admiration for the sushi chef. Even airport sushi has to be made somewhere, right?
Last week I had the fortune of taking a sushi class for the first time. I should confess now, that I had been on sushi hiatus for almost a year from a bad bout of roe (eggs) and some other reddish unidentifiable ingredient, but I’m back on the sushi brigade, and can now make my own sushi to boot!
The first step of our sushi class was to cover our sushi rollers in saran wrap so that the rice wouldn’t stick as much, Then we loaded it up with specially prepared sushi rice. Sushi rice is special sush-only-designated rice you can buy at most Asian stores and should be mixed with a rice vinegar mixture to give the rice a distinct sweetish taste.
Once you spread the rice on the nori (seaweed sheet to hold it all together), you can then add anything you like! Typically there is salmon or tuna, then avocado and cucumber. For this roll we just did rice and cucumber to start. A normal roll (rice on the inside) is the most traditional. Then you slowly start to roll it all up like a delicate burrito. (I’m sure the Mexican food reference would make a sushi chef cringe.)
Like most ethnic foods brought to America, we managed to transform a healthy Japanese meal into a fatty and fried version of its former self. Yes, a good spider roll is hard to resist, but traditional sushi does not involve anything fried, no mayo (that cuts out spicy tuna rolls!) and very little soy sauce should be used. Apparently dousing your rolls in salt-laden soy sauce is an insult to the chef!
Another thing that is also American is the inside-out roll. Most restaurants charge you an extra buck for this, but it’s actually easier to wrap because you can fit more ingredients into the roll. To accomplish this you just flip the rice over and load the ingredients directly on the nori. Here we added crunchy flakes, true to American form.
If you’re looking to take a class on your own, I recommend rounding up a group of your friends and getting a private lesson. My group was led by Sushi By Simon, an entertaining actor-turned-sushi-chef and we made three rolls each. Plus, Simon let us keep the extra ingredients so we could dabble on our own the next day. Avocado-banana-peanut butter-roll anyone? Surprisingly, it was tasty!