Sushi Making in the City.
Guest feature by Adrian York:
‘Spring into Health’ is a series of free events that the people behind the Broadgate development in the City are running from March to May to help provide City workers with a fresh perspective on nutrition, wellness and fitness. As part of this programme they are running sushi making classes at spiffy City ‘kaiten’ (conveyor belt) restaurant K10 (see our review of K10 from last year) and I was delighted to be asked along to represent London-Unattached.
We started with an introductory talk on the history of sushi. The tradition began in 7th century as a means of preserving fish in salted rice in Southeast Asia then spreading to China and in the 8th century to Japan. Vinegar started to be used instead of salt and by 100 years ago sushi as we know it was being sold on stalls in Tokyo. In 1923 there was the huge Tokyo earthquake. The outcome was that sushi stall holders moved to other cities in the country and then on to the USA and Australia. Now sushi is a mass consumer product available in convenience stores.
To the Japanese it is the rice that is the most important element. Short grain Japonica rice is preferred which is particularly sticky. Rice for the European market is now grown in Spain and Italy and the shorter the grain the better the rice. Most of the rice in the UK is short to medium grain.
The rice needs to be washed to the point when the water is completely cloudless and then needs to be rested in clean water. It is then cooked and mixed with rice vinegar, salt and sugar.
The other crucial element in sushi is the fish and I was not surprised to learn that 75% of the fish used in the UK is salmon. In Japan the endangered blue-fin tuna is the most popular species which is fattier and better quality than the yellow-fin tuna that we use in the UK.
The final element in the presentation was where we learned about sushi.
Etiquette. Don’t rub your chopsticks together, put a tiny bit of soy sauce on your sushi rather than too much and don’t put your ginger into the soy sauce and you should be fine.
The next stage in the proceedings was for us to be shown by three of the K10 chefs how to make Tamaki sushi and a Maki roll. I think our attempts were fairly creditable – the trick to creating successful sushi is obviously to have a chef standing next to you….they tasted good though! Maki rolls are the circular rolled lengths. You have to get just the right amount of rice, spread it at the right angle, not put in too much filling and then do clever things with a sushi mat…twice. You are meant to then slice the roll (with a wet knife) but I’m afraid I ate the while thing whole. The Temaki is even more complicated as it involves angles! Fortunately the chefs were very helpful and performed emergency sushi surgery where necessary.
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