Americans call almost anything sushi. Locally, “sushi” can refer to rice rolls, raw fish or basically anything at a “sushi restaurant”. While sushi is a broad term for a Japanese dish made with vinegar flavored rice and usually raw fish, each type has specific names that are mostly unknown to the novice American sushi eater. This interesting tidbit and much more were explained at Gourmet Chef’s Sushi Making class hosted by Suong (Sue) Willson.
One may not think that North Dakota is a premier place to acquire freshly made sushi. Completely landlocked and a small farm community, Minot does not have a readily available seawater cuisine location, but one can get the specific sushi and fish ingredients from Marketplace Foods on a good day. It is because of the lack of restaurant opportunities that the sushi making class at Gourmet Chef is so popular. Lovers of Maki Rice Rolls, in turn, line up to take the class so they can prepare the dish at home instead. The most recent class on Thursday, March 9, even contained people who didn’t particularly love raw fish and rice, but wanted to have the experience of learning how to make it just the same.
Willson led the class by preparing all the ingredients and laying them out for students to admire. The ingredients included several vegetables like cucumbers, carrots and avocados. Also amongst the ingredients were soy sauce, cream cheese, vinegar seasoned rice and nori- the seaweed outside cover. Willson then walked students through how to assemble the rolls, which ingredients are best together and -the trickiest part- how to spoon out the very sticky rice onto the nori. After combining all the ingredients, the class was instructed to roll the filled nori into the roll using a sushi mat or “makisu”. Some students had perfect round rolls while others flopped into smashed looking sandwiches. The class proceeded to make six different types of rolls including crab, shrimp tempura and raw salmon. Willson also taught a lesson on how to make the rolls with sesame seeds and rice on the outside of the nori too.
The class was lighthearted but very informative. Willson taught from her experience and the love for the food she prepares. Learning about how to prepare raw saltwater fish safely was a new concept to many in the class and this reporter. As the two hour instructions wrapped up, the class finally got to reap the reward of their hard word by eating all the delicious rolls they had made themselves. While some students couldn’t wait to engulf their creations, and did so promptly, some took the time to work on the presentation of the sushi roll by adding a swirl of sauce or plating to perfection which was also instructed how-to by Willson.
This reporter won’t give away all the secrets from the class, but it is safe to say that the sushi making class will be a fun way to learn something new! And each student got to take home their sushi mat and “shamoji” rice paddle so they could work on perfecting the skill in their own homes.