Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sushi Lesson

On to a new adventure - making sushi!  Doesn't so much require much cooking, but it's still a culinary challenge, and also something I crave regularly.  And technically making perfect rice is a requirement so some cooking skills are necessary.  Anyway, so my friend Haley & I have been talking about taking a sushi class for quite some time - probably close to 6 months by now.  It's always been one of those things that I let the experts handle, which is similar to how I feel about steak.  Plus the amount of equipment and ingredients required for something I'm not going to make that often seems like a waste.  But I also have found myself a) spending upwards of $75 on a sushi dinner (I'm sure the number of cocktails has nothing to do with that price tag) and b) throwing dinner parties for friends.  So maybe if I do b) and make my own, it wouldn't cost a) to feed everyone?  But most importantly, I want to be good at all things food related.  Selecting, preparing, eating.

So Haley found us a class at a small college around here - $29 for the 3 hour class plus $20 for supplies.  No cocktails (altho they did have a small sample drink of sake + plum wine but I didn't like it and gave it to Haley), but not much more cash than my normal sushi dinner out.

I get there and see that the class is being taught by an an old white dude.  I'm unimpressed.  I was expecting the sushi chef from RA or Tuna Town or Wabi Sabi that barely speaks English to teach me how to fillet ahi tuna AND a cucumber immediately and fill it with tempura shrimp and rolled in crunchy panko and smother it in eel sauce.  But, put my ignorance aside, and this guy wasn't bad!  And actually I liked him even better when after class we got to talking and I find out he went to college at....none other than Central Michigan!  Small world!  And obviously I was rockin' a CMU t-shirt during the class but had it hidden under a hoodie (and I'd actually almost grabbed a Central hoodie instead of the one I wore).

Anyway, it's a husband and wife team; he teaches tons of classes but has had no formal training, just a passion (kind of how I am about cooking!).  The wifey kept him organized and handed out our plates of salmon and avocado and all that jazz.  He explained where to find the ingredients and exactly what to buy - the rice, the rice vinegar, etc.  He told us to buy fresh fish that had not been frozen yet, and to freeze it for 24-48 hours, then thaw for a day, before using.  This is apparently a safety precaution and makes eating sushi less risky.  While some restaurants may take a fish out of a tank and have it on your plate 10 minutes later, he said a home sushi chef should really not do this.  Buying fish that hasn't been frozen yet is very important so that YOU can freeze it and not do the freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw thing, which is basically asking for trouble.  He then taught us the technique for spreading the rice onto the seaweed paper, for both a normal roll and inside out roll.  How much rice to use, how to spread & position it, and how to add ingredients before rolling.  He also showed us how to clean and prep shrimp to cook before using for sushi (you know, the fish on top of blobs of rice).  For the rice, we didn't actually make it ourselves, but he demonstrated the technique so hopefully I can replicate that at home.  After I buy a big fat expensive wooden sushi rice bowl.

Very basic.  But enough information that Haley & I both feel comfortable making it at home and adding our own creative touches.  You know darn well that deep fryer will come back out so I can make tempura shrimp.  This guy also does home parties so we're thinking it would be fun to get a group together and he'll give a sushi-making lesson, and also do some fancier stuff just for us to enjoy.

And the best part?  Eating our work at the end!  And despite having had sushi for dinner on Thursday night, learning to make it (and eating it) Friday night, I really want sushi tonight...and a big fat sake bomb on the side!

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