Sushi 101 @ The Cordata Community Food Co-op

I participated in a sushi class at the Community Food Co-op and I loved every minute of it! I’ve been making sushi for many years, but the opportunity to participate hands on with a native Japanese restaurateur was a true privilege.

Yukiko Helle was the teacher tonight and is a wonderful lady. She is a native of Kumamoto, Japan where her family members were restaurateurs; she grew up in a restaurant kitchen. Yukiko and her husband also had a restaurant in Georgia before making their way to Bellingham.

She had an ambitious schedule. We were to learn the ins and outs of making sushi rice (very important to vigorously fan while ‘knifing’ the vinegar and salt into the rice) and the prep for some sushi vegetables (spinach, cucumber, avocado). Did you know the Japanese don’t generally eat spinach raw? The spinach is washed VERY well with the roots attached, dried and then quickly blanched. The water is repeatedly squeezed out of the spinach above the cooking pot. Then, the roots are cut off and the spinach used. This is to remove the acid in the spinach, but still retain its nutrients.

She gave detailed instruction on how to make shrimp tempura:

‘Don’t be a cheapskate with the vegetable oil’ so as to maintain the oil’s temperature.

And, of course,we learned  how to assemble and roll different types of sushi:  nigiri, California, big maki, gunboat, inari. There were cutting  boards and sharp knives so you could practice using your ‘qi’ or energy flow, to slice your sushi roll to perfection! She offered very good hands-on instruction:  she walked the room to give assistance, asked the students to the kitchen stove to prepare and cook shrimp tempura. There was so much sushi made, people were taking home leftovers!

First we made nigiri sushi with shrimp, eel, taco (octopus) and tuna. Then we made California rolls with crab, avocado and cucumber. The third dish was called big maki – there was an entire shrimp tempura along with pickled daikon, spinach and cucumber in a roll. We made gunboat sushi which is a special type of nigiri sushi where a strip of nori is wrapped around the perimeter of a small mound of rice creating a cup we filled with spicy crab (imitation crab sliced and pulled apart into matchsticks and mixed with fried tempura batter pieces,  mayonnaise, salt and sriracha). And last, but not least, we made inari which is a credit card sized pouch of fried tofu (comes canned in a syrup) filled with rice. YUM YUM YUM.

Next, I would love to participate in a Japanese breakfast class. I think breakfast options need to be expanded in the American diet. Yukiko?

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