Jonathan Scott professed his love for sushi in a recent interview. “if there’s a cookbook called ‘Sushi for Dummies’ I would use it,” he says. “Whatever gets sushi in my belly.”
Could you prepare are intimate sushi feast for two? What if Jonathan Scott asks you out on a romantic sushi date in Japan? You can’t order tempura; you need to order the sushi boat for two (so much more opportunity for connection this way).
Just like we did in “What to Do When Jonathan Scott Asks You to Go Wakeboarding,” here is a break-down of this Japanese delicacy. This is sushi 101, class is in session.
Our teacher, Sang Kim, is a fun-loving master but he’s tough too. He’s bluntly honest and he’ll tell you if your sushi roll is ugly. It’s a type of tough-love that is needed when you have a table lined with nori-wrapped triangular prisms instead of cylinders. “Rolls” that don’t actually roll and that have rice bursting from its seams.
All of this criticism is constructive though and is done in good fun. Kim runs a program called Sushi Making for the Soul, a Toronto-based sushi making class.
Originally founded as a food literacy program for children, Sushi Making for the Soul has expanded its horizons and now teaches the art of sushi-making to the brave and willing in the Toronto area.
“Sushi is what I call a deceptively simple cuisine,” Kim says to a class of about 20. The vast array of men and women of all ages later find out why this is true the hard way.
When you go to a sushi restaurant, the final product seems simple. There’s not a lot of fancy garnish and no mint foam to offset the palette. Rather it’s a simple roll that is quickly assembled with a few ingredients.
But the misconception is that it’s easy to make and that “cooking” is not involved. The reality is that there are numerous processes that eventually allow your California roll to land on your plate.
“Sushi is what I call a deceptively simple cuisine." Sang Kim, Sushi Making for the Soul.
What is Sushi?
Sushi originates from an area where Vietnam and Cambodia is now, Kim tells his class. Thousands of years ago, fishermen would catch fish like carp in preparation for monsoon season. They would harvest the fish, clean it, gut it and finally cut the fish into pieces. Women would then place the fish in a liquid solution to brine. The now preserved fish would be wrapped with rice, placed in a box and left to ferment for time frames of up to a month, he explains.
The cooking directions of sushi have since been amended, but in essence, the flavor and concept behind this century-old cooking style is evident in the sushi we eat today.
For example, the rotting taste of the original fermented fish is translated into sushi rice. The rice is normally mixed in with sweet vinegar and sometimes cooked in a broth flavored with dashi (dried kelp) and bonito flakes (dried and fermented tuna).
Types of Sushi
Sushi is not just the California roll that you get in a mall’s food court; there are actually many different types for you to choose from. Here is a quick break down of the different sushi rolls as described by Sang Kim:
Hosomaki: A simple roll with nori (seaweed) wrapped around the outside, with a maximum of two ingredients wrapped within layers of seaweed and rice.
Kappa Maki: A type of Hosomaki that is filled with cucumbers.
Uramaki: A roll with rice on the outside. This leaves more room for filling. The experience of eating Uramaki is different than eating Hosomaki: The flavors in Uramaki are undistinguishable creating different tastes and sensations.
Temaki: A hand roll that has a cone shape.
Futomaki: A larger cylindrical roll that is typically filled with vegetables.
Sashimi: Sashimi is a thing of its own. It’s not sushi exactly since sushi is coined by its flavored rice. Sashimi is actually thinly sliced raw fish or meat that is served on its own.
Nigiri sushi: Instead of being formed into a roll, nigiri is a small clump of rice with a piece of fish draped over it.
What to Order
Now that you know all about sushi, what do you order? You, of course, want to impress Jonathan with your knowledge. Kim says that if he could recommend anything it would be nigiri. Fluke, flounder, snapper and sea breams are his personal favorites.
How to Eat Sushi
Jonathan will be looking at you during this sushi date in Japan and you don’t want to look like a fool. Sushi normally comes with a few condiments along with it—wasabi, soy sauce, pickled ginger and that plastic grass thing. First things first, don’t eat the plastic thing. Secondly, some connoisseurs say that soy sauce and wasabi shouldn’t be combined into a mucky paste. The same goes for the ginger. All should be added onto individual sushi pieces separately.
All of this may sound daunting, but it actually isn’t. In fact, Kim says sushi making and eating is naturally fun.
“I love that sushi allows people of all ages to feel like children again. And that’s the real beautiful synergy,” Kim says. “My passion is to do things with children, but when I see adults engaging in sushi, they are very childlike and it’s the nature of making sushi, it’s almost as if you are playing with Lego or play dough and I love seeing that.”
So keep that in mind while on that date with Jonathan, the objective is to have fun.