Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sushi Sakura Style

As I mentioned previously, during sakura season (cherry blossom) here in Japan, sakura literally becomes the center of attention in terms of products, flavors, foods, themes and activities.  So when my friend asked me if I was interested in joining her (and her other friends) for a sushi making class in Yokohama with a sakura theme, I thought nothing of it except to say that I would go.  I had never made sushi before so I thought it would be an interesting experience.  I was a little nervous that I would be awful at it - in a conversation with my mom a few days before the class, I told her that my sushi was probably going to come out very ugly.  She asked me why I would say that and my response was "mom, I can't even make nice looking spam musubi." 

A few days before the class, my friend messaged me and told me that I needed to bring with me an apron, a bandana, a dish towel and a container for the finished product. I didn't have an apon or a bandana, and I initially panicked and wondered where I was going to get them, BUT then I realized my favorite place in the world, The Daiso would probably have exactly what I needed. I already had a container and dish towel, but come on, stuff is ONLY 100 yen at The Daiso (plus, it was Hello Kitty AND I also wanted my stuff to be color coordinated in pink, since pink is the color of sakura).

The class was held at a community center in Yokohama in a room that was obviously meant for cooking classes.  We got there a little early and the class before us was just finishing up so we got to see the fruits of their labor - our class was making rolls but their class had made nigiri.  Everyone was really friendly and helped us get the supplies and ingredients we were going to need for our class (bamboo roller, plastic measuring mat, knife, plastic wrap, plastic gloves).  The sushi rice was already made so all we had to do was weigh out exactly how much rice we would need for our individual rolls.

The class started out with everyone going up to the front of the class and watching the teacher do (and simultaneously explain) a few steps.  I thought that having the mirror above the teacher's area was particularly helpful because there would often be people in front of me (and since I'm short, I couldn't exactly see what was going on). As soon as she was done with her explanation, everyone would run back to their stations and do the steps we had just learned.

The instructions given by the teacher were entirely in Japanese, but luckily someone in our group was fluent in Japanese and was able to translate the directions.  Plus, the teachers (and the aides) would go around the room monitoring the progress and assisting those who needed help.  It seemed like one of them was always kind of hovering around our table which I didn't mind at all because I'll be honest, I kind of needed the help (plus a lot of the women in the class seemed like they had already taken these classes before and knew what they were doing).

It was a very cool process though.  To get the rice pink, we used some sort of food coloring that was also cherry blossom flavored (go figure) and the wrap around the roll was tamago (egg) instead of nori.  There was such a feeling of suspense (and for me, anxiety) when you roll the sushi and then cut it in half at which point you find out whether you have the shape/image you were going for, or you just have a blob of rice and vegetables. Mine was somewhere in the middle.  From far away you can kind of tell that it's a cherry blossom tree but I sort of messed up on one part so the trunk didn't turn out as "trunky" as it should've been.  Oh well, at least it wasn't as much of a disaster as I thought it was going to be, and I totally had fun in the process. Next class on my list, making sushi pandas!

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