I recently treated myself (plus my friend, Celeste) to a sushi-making class at Sushi Yoko in Fort Worth. I purchased the deal on Groupon, plus making sushi is on my 2013 Resolution List. For $75, Celeste and I each had a cocktail, iced tea, an appetizer, sushi roll, and nearly three hours of personal instruction from the sushi chef and restaurant owner, Lamar. A couple from Dallas and two ladies from Fort Worth were also in the class. Together, we had a wonderful evening full of laughs and great sushi.
The boxes in the photo above are holding chopsticks belonging to families and individuals who eat at Sushi Yoko frequently. The boxes are arranged along several walls inside the restaurant and I think it’s the neatest idea for customer appreciation! Lamar promised me my own set of chopsticks on the wall if I bring more friends for another class …. I’m getting a box on the wall!!!!!
Making sushi is an art and it has quite the colorful history. What most consider sushi began humbly as a way of preserving meat and fish with vinegar-soaked rice. Sushi rice (the most important component) is carefully prepared according to the strict instructions of the itamae (or sushi chef), and every sushi restaurant has its own “secret” recipe using short-grain rice, sugar, salt, and vinegar. To appease our palettes, sushi rice in the United States is much sweeter than its counterpart in Japan, which is made with more vinegar.
After a thorough lesson in the history of sushi, and explaining different types of rolls and assembling techniques, Lamar showed us how to make a traditional California roll with sushi rice, nori (seaweed) paper, cucumber, avocado, and imitation crab. The first step is measuring a palm full of sushi rice and forming a tight, but not “squished” ball of rice in your hand, and retrieving a sheet of nori.
It’s important to not over work the rice as it could quickly turn the consistency of mashed potatoes. Lamar expertly demonstrated how to spread the rice on the sheet of nori, starting down the center of the paper and gently pressing it down, and pushed the rice over the edge about a quarter of an inch. To arrange the filling, Lamar began with the softest food (avocado), then spread the crab meat and neatly arranged several strips of cucumber.
With thumbs positioned on the bottom, and fingers holding the filling ingredients in place, Lamar lifted his wrists and rolled forward in one slow motion.
Without lifting the bamboo mat completely, reposition and roll a quarter of a turn. Then apply slight pressure to seal that perfect edge!
Done … except the edges need to be cleaned up. Lamar used the bamboo mat to hold the roll in place while he “flattened” the edge with the palm of his hand.
You’ve now reached the point in the post where we transition from the professional (Lamar) making sushi to the amateur (Yours Truly). =)
In case you had any doubts, sticky rice is really sticky. There is pomp-and-circumstance required when rolling a bamboo mat covered in plastic wrap too, it’s not as easy as it looks!!!
I pride myself in decent knife skills, but nobody can easily cut through plastic, fresh salmon, and several layers of rice, nori paper, and filling with a regular ol’ steak knife. Because I was a good student and asked questions, took lots of photos, and promised positive promotion for his business, Lamar let me use his chef’s knife. It sliced the roll like warm butter!
I wish I could tell you that my Alaskan roll turned out pretty, but the truth is I am not Picasso in the world of sushi art. But hey, it tasted great!
If you are a sushi eater, what are your favorite rolls? Have you ever taken a food prep class? Tell me in a comment!!!