When it comes to learning sushi-making skills, Andy Welch is on a roll
I love sushi. Love it. Hosomaki, nigiri, rolls hand-shaped and California. However it comes, I eat it.
For some reason, I’d never tried to make it myself. Perhaps I believed it was difficult or, more likely, assumed the rice-making, fish-slicing and rolling a lot more faff than going to the Japan Centre and buying as many ready made pieces as I could carry.
Nevertheless, I had a voucher for a class run by Makiko Sano, the sushi chef behind Suzu Japanese Tapas Bar in Hammersmith.
There were nine of us in Maki’s basement around a table, rice cooked and piled high in front of us, nori sheets laid out and plates stocked with sliced cucumber.
Over the next two hours, Maki, originally from Tokyo, showed us how to make the cucumber hosomaki, prawn nigiri, prawn and avocado handrolls and salmon and avocado California rolls she’s been making for years.
Maybe most importantly, she taught us how to correctly slice them up in order to eat them as well as the finer points of chopstick, soy sauce and wasabi etiquette. Quick tip – never point at anyone with your chopsticks, and always pick up sushi pieces side on, rather than over the top.
I was pleased to see my sushi getting better as the class went on and I felt like I was slowly getting the hang of it, and it was interesting to hear about the differences between sushi here in the UK and in Japan. There are several differences, but essentially we fat westerners have more rice, while the Japanese favour more fish.
I’ll still be going to the Japan Centre, but I’ll be buying ingredients not takeaway
It was a shame we didn’t get to cook our own rice. Making sure the rice is sufficiently plump and sticky is the most crucial aspect of making your own sushi, but we were at least talked through the process in detail and given instruction cards to take home, along with the sushi we’d made and our rolling mats. (And, let’s face it, cooking rice for 30 minutes then waiting for it to cool right down wouldn’t have made for the most entertaining evening.)
That smallest of points aside, the class was well-organised and perfect for most people interested in making sushi, regardless of their existing culinary skill, while Maki, who recently published her second cookbook, was friendly and her instructions were clear and effective.
I’ll still be going to the Japan Centre as often, but I’ll be buying ingredients rather than takeaway.
Words: Andy Welch