The class was booked via a Groupon offer as a birthday present for my housemate Alicia, a foodie if ever there was one. The four of us went along to Suzu, a Japanese restaurant in Hammersmith and joined a class of about 15 people, lead by chef Makiko Matthews. Everything was laid out on the tables for us: a sushi mat (which we got to keep), plastic gloves, oil to lube up the gloves, the sushi ingredients and some Japanese snacks and plum wine.
First, we made a classic cucumber maki roll – that’s where the seaweed is on the outside. Using the right amount of rice is key, so Makiko came round and checked our egg-sized balls, before we spread them over the seaweed sheet, placed the cucumber in the middle and rolled them up tightly using the mat. It actually wasn’t so difficult – I was expecting at least a couple of disaster students in the class but no such luck. The rice is so sticky that it dampens the seaweed and holds everything together nicely.
We were then taught how to use the terrifyingly sharp sushi knife to cut our rolls into bite size chunks. After Makiko told the story of one guy who knocked the knife off the table and caught it by the blade we were all VERY careful with it. That was probably the toughest bit actually. Makiko made the cutting look so easy, but getting even sushi pieces was difficult because the knife got caught on the sticky rice a lot.
Next up, we made ngiri sushi, which is the kind with a piece of fish on top of a ball of rice. We used salmon, pre-cut by Makiko. Again, getting the right amount of rice is important. We were told to take a ball of rice the size of a cherry tomato and bend our fingers round it to fashion it into a neat rectangle, before laying the salmon on top and gently squeezing it into place.
Finally, chef Makiko showed us how to make uramaki, the sushi rolls where the rice is on the outside, which were apparently invented in America rather than Japan. I’ve always wondered how they get the rice to stay on the outside, but it turns out it just like maki rolls, except you turn the seaweed sheet over once you’ve spread the rice on it.
We all struggled a little bit more with this one, finding that the big slices of avocado that went inside along with the salmon made it harder to roll evenly. None of us won the coveted ‘best uramaki’ prize that Makiko awarded, not that we were enraged or devastated by this, no way, not us.
So all in all, the class was really fun, and proved that sushi making isn’t as difficult as it looks. With a bit of practice I think anyone could do it. The only thing is that making sushi rice sounds like quite a time consuming process involved several different stages of washing, soaking, boiling, cooling etc. But we were given a sheet with all the instructions, so we’re thinking in my house that sometime soon we’re going to get in all the right ingredients, make a big batch and have a sushi making party.