Local Heroes – Yay!Sushi Workshop
Do you know your maki from your uramaki, or your nigiri from your sashimi? All I knew was I liked eating all types of sushi, but I had no idea which was which, or how to begin making them.
That is, until I attended a recent sushi making workshop with Anna; the brains (and knife skills) behind the fabulous Bedford based delivery service that is Yay!Sushi.
The event took place on a steaming hot Saturday afternoon in August, at the Marmaris grill restaurant in Bedford town centre. I had feared we might perish with the added heat of the restaurant’s famous grill, but was pleasantly surprised on arrival to find the darkened restaurant suitably cool.
We were greeted by Anna and her partner Filip who treated us to a glass of the popular Japanese choya wine. Made from unripe green ume plums, this was a bit of a revelation (especially, as one who generally steers away from fruit wine). Both sweet and tart at the same time, it was highly quaffable!
There were 5 other participants in the hands on workshop and the tone was low key and friendly. Anna was highly informative and offered plenty of opportunities for questions and chat.
Anna talked to us about her ongoing training under Alon Than, a Japanese sushi master based in Poland. She then continued with a brief tutorial on the different knives used in the preparation of sushi and the relevant hygiene considerations. Attention then turned to the all important rice, which had been silently steaming away in a giant electric steamer, since before our arrival.
Anna showed us how the rice is cooled then seasoned, in the impressive, traditional wooden hangiri trays, before it was divided up between us, at our individual sushi stations. In the centre of the table were the pre cut vegetable ingredients and Anna brought round fabulously fresh salmon which she had previously cut. Meanwhile, Filip provided a cup of green tea with roasted rice to keep us hydrated. The air of excitement was palpable.
And so, we started with perhaps the most recognisable sushi; maki rolls (with the nori seaweed on the outside), Anna talked us through and demonstrated every step and we duly followed her instructions, filling and rolling our own maki on our bamboo mats. We cut them carefully and presented them on our individual black trays.
We then moved onto uramaki; an inside out roll (rice on the outside).
We made 2 varieties including (my personal favourite) one containing tempura prawns, which we all took turns to deep fry under the expert guidance of Anna.
Next, onto a deceptively easy looking hosomaki roll, which was a thin, veg based nori covered roll, cut into 5. More difficult to roll because of it’s size. (Needless to say mine did not reach the required level of precision to impress any sushi master)
Next came California rolls containing crab sticks, avocado, sriracha and Japanese mayo. There was a fun moment of synchronicity as “California Girls” came on in the background, just as we were rolling!
The class finished with the classic nigiri; a hand pressed bed of rice topped with a single piece of salmon, sea bass, octopus and a butterflied prawn, “fastened” in place with a strip of nori. Fabulous in it’s simplicity.
Throughout the session, we were reminded about the art of presentation and by the end we had each produced our own exquisite tray of more than 30 pieces of super fresh sushi complete with pickled ginger and soy sauce condiments (I had also made sure to include plenty of wasabi in each of my rolls!).
I’ve been on a few cooking workshops and this was up there with the best. 2.5 hours that flew by so quickly and were both educational and fun. Anna’s expert knowledge and enthusiasm for her subject was inspirational. I left with a real confidence about the subject and the process, keen to start building up a knife collection of my own.
One of the best parts of all happened later; seeing my friends’ happy faces as they tucked into my “creations”. There is nothing quite like the joy of sharing great food and this was definitely one of those ocassions. I am certain there will be many more sushi nights to come….