It’s very easy to like Reiko Hashimoto, her classes are fun, hands on and I’ve never had so many sushi in my life. I don’t go for cooking classes on weekends, after a long week of work, the mere thought of attending a 4 hour class is torture, but Reiko’s classes are different. 8 of us made sushi like kids at a playground. My wonky shaped sushi rolls looked like a 5-year-old’s snowman, ready to crash but so delicious I’ll never buy ready made sushi again. 4 hours flew by, Reiko arranged her finest Japanese dining set, poured each of us hot sake and we dined together like friends, impressed by each other’s work.
Reiko teaches a variety of Japanese cooking classes from her home. Sushi and sashimi classes run every weekend but tend to be fully booked. Using the four hour slot, we were introduced to Japanese ingredients, how to cook tamago yaki (Japanese omelette), sushi rice, maki (thin rolls), inside out rolls and nigiri (a small ball of rice topped with a piece of fish).
Japanese ingredients are expensive so watch out before you buy a whole basket. Reiko introduced the essential ingredients for sushi and where to buy them.
Once you try homemade tamago yaki, you’ll never eat the rubbery, bright yellow and super sweet ones in most shops and restaurants. It’s not the easiest thing to make and a rectangular shaped pan is required.
It was so delicious I made another one next morning!
We made a few styles of sushi, the crucial part was the sushi rice. All oriental families have rice cookers at home which does everything for you. Once cooked, just add the right amount of sushi vinegar. Reiko also talked through how to make rice in a normal pot.
Nigiri is the most difficult sushi to make, Japanese housewives would go to a restaurant than attempt to make home. It’s rumoured to require 10 years to master which gives sushi chefs their prestigious title.
A few pictures of our creations!
The most important tip I learnt from Reiko was that fridge kills sushi, eat them on the day and do not put them in the fridge. Temperature below 2 degrees dries the sticky sushi rice and makes them tough. Wasabi and Itsu have their fridge adjusted to 8 degrees to maintain sushi rice compared to Tesco’s brick hard sushi left in the same fridge as sandwiches.
A decent platter of sushi in a restaurant will set you back £20 because good quality fish is very expensive. Reiko named a few Japanese fishmongers in London, Atari-ya was mentioned, who supplies to many sushi restaurants. A good sushi knife is also important, else you’ll get a zigzagged edge.
Many of us lack the knowledge to judge fish quality, but the easiest one to remember is fresh fish shouldn’t smell fishy.
I highly recommend Reiko’s classes, it’s well illustrated, very hands on and a lot of fun. However, her classes are expensive, £120 per person includes the four hour class, all ingredients, lunch with green tea ice cream and sake, and a sushi starter kit to start making at home.
Classes are hosted at Reiko’s home, all information can be found on her website.
Check out her book if you want to make her dishes at home.