Being a fan of taking cooking classes in other countries, it was no surprise to find myself in Japan learning how to make sushi. What was a surprise was that Peter and I would be doing it in the private home of Tomomi, a Tokyo native. So far, she had been our travel guide for two of the top things to do in Tokyo, seeing wrestlers practice at a sumo stable and touring the famous Tsujiki Fish Market. Now she had invited us into her home, far away from Tokyo’s bustling business section, to learn the art of making sushi.
This was a truly personalized sushi lesson with only two students.
We had already purchased fresh ahi tuna while perusing the stalls at the fish market, along with wasabi for grating, but we also needed some other ingredients. So, on the way to her home we stopped by Tokyu supermarket to purchase more fish (salmon, octopus, yellow tail, prawns), seaweed, avocados and a cucumber. This was already quite a unique food experience.
We arrived at Tomomi’s home, in a residential section of town which she claimed to be a standard single family-home: three bedrooms, a small kitchen, living area and about a thousand square feet.
It is the size of my current home, yet used much more efficiently.
We started the lesson learning how to make tamago, a Japanese egg omelet and one of my favorite things to order back at home. Tamago is made by using a special rectangle pan, getting that pan hot, then cooling just a little before adding a thin layer of egg mixture. Each layer takes patience and must be systematically rolled at just the right time. With a lot of help from Tomomi, ours almost looked professional.
Then it was sushi making time.
We started by making the rice in a cooker and then mixing it with vinegar. Next we were instructed on how to cut the fish which had to be done in one long slicing motion. Lastly we prepped all the vegetables.
We would be making three varieties of sushi today: rolled, nigiri and gunken/ship shape roll. It started by using the traditional technique of using our hands to shape the rice and rolling sushi in bamboo, then it moved on to modern gadgets. Tomomi showed us an easier technique using a non-traditional plastic mold, which she allowed me to take home.
She may not have been confident in my traditional sushi making skills. Me either.
After making some simple sushi rolls my creative side kicked in and I began blending different ingredients on the table.
At the end of the lesson, Tomomi made us miso soup to go with our plate of whimsical sushi and we sat down to share a delicious, handmade lunch. For dessert, there was a fresh bowl of Japanese grapes. They had a very thick skin and addictively popped in your mouth. The perfect end to a perfect meal.
Have you ever made sushi before?