Monday, July 22, 2013

An evening with sushi and the suave foodies in Pune

If there is any cooking class that I would willingly attend it has to be the one which teaches delicate, pretty food, with a complimentary glass of wine. Last weekend, on 18th July, I and my sister, Shilpa attended a Sushi making party at the O Hotel’s Harajuku restaurant. Harajuku is a town in Tokyo and we didn’t hassle ourselves in wondering why it is named after that town.

The moment one steps inside the restaurant, the conspicuous red and black décor puts one in a mood for some Japanese food. We were late and the session had already started just a few minutes ago. We walked in the middle of the amazing discussion on making the Shari (sushi rice) with Japanese vinegar. The chef recommends the Japanese rice as it is highly glutinous and thus becomes sticky. Surprisingly, even if the texture of the rice required to make is sticky, each and every grain of the rice is intact and can be notably tasted. Indian basmati rice cannot be a substitute. However, the chef claims that Japanese rice is easily available in fine food stores in Pune. (List provided at the end of the blog post).

The chef spoke about the basic ingredients required to make sushi such as Shari (rice), Neta (raw fish, either tuna, salmon, prawns, or crab), Nori (seaweed) sheets, and the most important ingredient – Wasabi. Wasabi is a green colored spicy paste resembling horseradish and is extremely pungent. For making a roll of sushi less than a pinch of wasabi can be used. Apart from wasabi, Gari or pickled ginger was added as a garnish, as it serves as a palate cleansing agent between two types of sushi.

Various types of sushi
The chef demonstrated how to make sushi with Nori sheets inside the Maki (sushi roll), with rice on the outside. This proved to be quite difficult to make but was an all time favorite. We made sushi with nori sheets outside, California rolls, Temaki (cone-shaped sushi), and Nigri sushi. The Nigri sushi was the most interesting and simple to make as it was just fish (salmon, prawns, or tuna) compressed on a mound of rice.

It was our turn now. After all, it was a “Roll your own sushi and eat it too” party. It seemed so easy when the chef was doing it, but when we stuck our hands and rolled up our sleeves, rolling sushi was a bit devious. After one or two attempts, we finally started getting it right. The suave food enthusiasts were quite happy with their attempts, and tried almost everything that the chef had showed us. Foodies were making the nigri sushi or the California maki, although I didn't see anyone daring enough to roll a temaki (cone-shaped sushi). A few daring ones made sushi with the ebi (prawns) in the maki (roll).

My sister Shilpa- The only vegetarian in the party
Among the gathering of 20-25 odd gourmets, there was one brave vegetarian – my sister. She had the courage to spend approximately 1400 rupees on learning sushi with avocado, carrots, or cucumber inside the roll. She made a carrot roll, which was interesting and one of its kind. Thanks to her, I came to know that there is a concept of vegetarian sushi.

At the end of the two hour session (which we didn't realize how happily we spent), all foodies were invited to taste their own creations, pick and choose from other’s plate all accompanied with a glass of wine. The only disappointment was that we didn't get to drink the Japanese sake – rice wine.

The chef overlooks while I make the crab sushi roll
If the chef was a smiling one with bright enthusiasm for teaching us how to make sushi, the staff was no less. We had people explaining us the correct way to eat a sushi, with chopsticks. Heck! The chef taught us how to hold the chopsticks and he actually managed to tear pieces of the gari (pickled ginger) with his chopsticks.

We were not so skilled, but managed to pull it off by picking up a sushi piece, dipping it in a small bowl of light soy sauce with wasabi mixed in it and putting it in our mouth in one go, without spilling a bit.

It is considered unkind and rude to leave any rice bits on the plate and we decided not to be rude (The pretty and delicate sushi on our plate ensured that we fall short on only licking the plate clean).


And that’s how we ended a wonderful soiree with sushi.

Places where one can find all the ingredients required to prepare sushi:
  • Godrej Nature's Basket - Aundh, Koregon Park
  • Fine Foods - Karve road
  • Dorabjee's - Camp


All set with my plate