I love an unusual prize. I also love anything related to Japan. Plus I love eating exciting food. So winning a Beginner’s Sushi Class with JNTO last year was a perfect prize for me. I booked the Sozai class for a Saturday afternoon and conveniently managed to win an overnight stay at Jury’s Inn Islington, so Rob and I made a weekend of it in London!
The two hour class took place downstairs in the dimly lit So Restaurant, where 16 of us enjoyed complimentary Japanese beer while the experienced sushi chef Tomokazu demonstrated his techniques. Although Tomokazu doesn’t speak much English, his translator was excellent and you could tell he had a great sense of humour!
If you’re making sushi at home it’s important to use Japanese sushi rice. Mix the cooked rice with vinegar, sugar and salt in a large bowl, slicing through it gently with a wooden spatula to mix. The rice is super sticky, so keep a finger bowl of water nearby and keep your hands damp!
We were each supplied with the right amounts of rice to make two California rolls, two salmon nigiri and two tuna nigiri. It was really fun making the sushi, following step-by-step as Tomokazu showed us how to correctly cover the nori seaweed squares with rice, then add the fillings and roll up.
The rolling was tricky! With the finished roll, you then had to roll it up in the damp napkin and press a bamboo mat over it to create a square shaped roll.
As for nigiri sushi, I presumed a bit of fish on a lump of rice must be simple to get right. That’s not the case! You need to create an air pocket in the rice ball, and use your hand to carefully shape the sushi with the raw fish on top. One side should have less rice visible – dip this side into your soy sauce to prevent the nigiri falling apart!
After completing our sushi takeaway boxes with a leaf pocket (for the ginger) we were each given a bowl of sushi to eat. It was delicious! We left the class with sushi mats, chopsticks, our sushi packed lunch and lots of knowledge to wow our dinner guests with.
Back at home we sliced the California rolls according to Tomokazu’s instructions – using a dampened, clean, sharp knife. And Ryland was pretty impressed, wolfing down all six of these in a matter of minutes!
Big thanks to JNTO for giving away this lovely prize – it was a great experience and has encouraged me to start making sushi again. Luckily the prize included a copy of ‘Sushi at Home’ too so I’m all set.
If you’d like to try a Sozai cookery class, all the details are at www.sozai.co.uk/Cooking_Classes – it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon!