For our (13th) anniversary dear husband (dh) and I decided to attend a class all about making Sushi & Sashimi. We’ve had a few goes over the years making this at home, and have a reasonably good rolling technique for average home cooks, though we’re not about to open a sushi bar anytime soon. It was the sashimi slicing techniques we were really interested in. The difference we discovered, was for sashimi you cut against the grain, while for sushi you cut with the grain of the fish. Along we popped to the Sydney Seafood School down at the fish markets. It was a lovely relaxed way to spend a Saturday together and the class hit all the right notes of learning, being entertained and a meal to finish.
Our teacher was Hideo Dekura, recently recognised by the Japanese food industry as a Grand Master Chef and we figured we were in good hands. Before the food demo Hideo-san was keen to talk about the knives he would be using, their significance in Japanese culture and heritage, forged steel that hails from the Samurai era. Dh was in heaven at this point and if you’ve seen him sharpen our knives on the specially bought ceramic stone you’d understand the significance. I think its this cultural aspect that strongly appeals to us, and while neither of us have visited, we both speak a little Japanese and are now more keen than ever to experience a total Japanese cultural immersion.Needless to say our modest collection of global knives might be getting some new friends soon, possibly even the fish bone picker just because of its groovy shape. As an aside, it was a small global knife that was the first item I bought (from Selfridge’s no less!) to furnish our flat when dh and I first moved in together in London. In hindsight it was a ridiculous extravagance and so not what you buy first when you have absolutely nothing else in, including a bed. He’s never let me forget that one. I’ve never let him forget who introduced him to decent knives!
I’d also like to one day have a Japanese garden, Tea House, permanent Ikebana display around the house, learn how to play the Koto and dance like a Geisha dressed in Japanese silks. For now I’ll settle for sashimi, miso soup, Gen-maicha tea and occasionally wearing a Kimono around the house when I don’t need to worry about getting the sleeves caught in the washing up or dinner.
The dishes Hideo-san demonstrated for us included:Tamago-Yaki or Thick Omelette, mutli layered in a rectangular fry pan (need to get one of those). This was fun to watch him make and I could easily have just watched him do so for a couple of hours.Cuttlefish sushi wrapped around cucumber and salmon, with a heart shaped Garfish + salmon pearls on the side.Finger limes, not common in Sydney, grown in Hideo-san’s back yard (he said he gets about 10 per year!), not really a dish, though the condiments in Japanese cuisine are significant in their own rite.Hadaka-maki or Unclad Seaweed Rolls with mini cucumbers and carrots, topped with black & white sesame seeds, dried (home grown) cherry, green chilli powder and other condiments.Snapper Sashimi beautifully presented with lime slices on a Japanese basil leaf. I had no idea there was such a kind until yesterday. The snapper had been prepared by pouring hot water over the fresh fish to soften the skin, then placed back in the fridge for a bit to settle.
Also passed around was a real piece of Bonito, dried using fish caught off Sydney Harbour and an amazing stem of Wasabi root, another ingredient I’d never seen in this form before. Hideo-san even brought in his Wasabi plant to show us – Cute! If only I had my Wasabi Peas socks finished to add to this right now, nevermind, they’re nearly done.Then it was out turn;
Preparing the cuttlefish. It was a bit messy and I still have ink stained finger nails (and we forgot to bring the cuttlefish home to dry for our local ‘budgies’), fun all the same.On to the silver Garfish (very pretty), which frankly I’ll leave to the experts, though I was the ‘star performer’ at our bench and managed to fillet and debone a couple of decent slices.Before we knew it we had a couple of very full plates of sashimi and sushi (mine top, his below). Then it was through to the dining room to finally eat and have a chat to Hideo-san while we purchased his latest book, Japanese Cuisine which he signed for us.