The se­cret of sushi? It’s a sticky busi­ness

Kate Wein­berg en­joys ex­pert help as she rolls and slices her way to per­fec­tion in a dish that has been turned into an art form

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Food & Drink -

In a tiny bar in a Tokyo sub­way, an 85-year-old has taken sushi­mak­ing to a sub­lime level. In the doc­u­men­tary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Jiro Ono ex­plains that de­spite a life­time hon­ing his craft and three Miche­lin stars to his name, he has not yet reached per­fec­tion. “I’ll con­tinue to climb to reach the top,” he says, “but no one knows where the top is.” Here in the Sozai cooking school in east Lon­don, my am­bi­tions are more mod­est. Namely, to avoid slic­ing the fin­ger­tips off Lucinda, who has ac­com­pa­nied me to a two-hour evening class in “Din­ner Party Sushi”, taught by chef Akemi Yokoyama. Akemi is spot­less in a white chef’s coat and large black-rimmed glasses. Her open kitchen is also pris­tine. On a scrubbed mar­ble floor, stain­less steel sur­faces are ar­ranged in a squared-off horse­shoe around the demon­stra­tion ta­ble. The bright spot­lights and gleam­ing sur­faces give it the air of an op­er­at­ing theatre, and our teacher, wield­ing a sharp knife, looks like she could teach a brain sur­geon a thing or two. Akemi be­gins by show­ing us how to make sushi rice. “You need to wash it up to five times un­til the wa­ter is clear,” she tells us be­fore mea­sur­ing out the wa­ter and rice pre­cisely and set­ting a timer. While the rice is boil­ing she shows us how to make pa­per-thin egg omelettes, us­ing chop­sticks to care­fully lift and turn them from the bot­tom of the pan. “Egg has ir­reg­u­lar el­e­ments,” says Akemi sternly, beat­ing the egg to dis­trac­tion be­fore strain­ing it. “I’ve never seen any­one sieve an egg be­fore,” whis­pers Lucinda, next to me, in awe. Back in front of our work sur­faces, we slice and stuff our tofu patches with sticky rice, wet­ting our hands in bowls of wa­ter and pat­ting them dry on gauze tow­els so that the rice doesn’t stick to them. “Some hands will at­tract more rice than other hands,” Akemi says. She shows us how to place the tofu within steel rings to make the pouches cir­cu­lar be­fore top­ping them with prawns, shred­ded egg and toasted sesame seeds for gar­nish. Akemi’s timer goes off and we gather around as she stirs the steam­ing rice care­fully in a gi­ant

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