It’s weird to think that a couple of years ago, sushi was on my list of things I thought I didn’t like (you can also add pesto, coffee and red wine to this list…yeah, I know…).
After tucking into some really good sushi on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, I actually became a serious sushi convert. I can’t get enough of the stuff – and I mean the proper stuff, not the plastic-packaged boxes on the supermarket shelves.
But as much as I love eating it, I do it less than I’d like. Because it’s pretty pricey – I always thought that to get decent sushi, you kinda need to go out for dinner. And apart from Yo! and K10, ‘budget’ and ‘sushi restaurants’ are words that don’t seem to be seen hanging out together too often.
There IS another option though. Until recently, I never even considered making my own. But with a little bit of professional help from a sushi making class in London, I might just have changed my mind on that one.
The Avenue Cookery School is an independent, family-run cookery school based in Wandsworth, South London. Running since 2004, they’re all about understanding food – moving away from cookery book correctness and using recipes to inspire would-be chefs to get a bit creative with their dishes.
For 2018, the Avenue is branching out, with a new ‘In The City’ location at the Central Street Cookery School, less than ten minutes’ walk from Old Street Station. I was invited along earlier this month to check out their first ‘Sushi In The City’ session – an evening sushi making cookery class.
I was welcomed with a glass of wine (lots of The Avenue’s cookery classes offer bottomless booze!), into the Central Street Cookery School space. Open and colourful, the ingredients and equipment for the class was already laid out for us, with our sushi rice pre-soaking in pans, ready to cook. As I’d headed down solo, I ended up pairing with another solo chef at my station – everyone else seemed to be in pairs already.
The sushi making class was headed up by Richard, son of Head Chef Diana, and his enthusiasm for food and modern cookery shone through from the start. The class began with a lively, informative demonstration – and a taster of what we’d be making ourselves in the next couple of hours.
There were three elements to the class – the first was making the sushi rice itself, and then we’d be using it to make maki rolls – both standard and California roll (rice on the outside) style. On the table, we had a range of ingredients including tuna, salmon, avocado and cucumber to mix into Japanese mayonnaise sauces and use as fillings.
Making the rice fillings was really easy – and Richard and assistant William were both on hand to make sure we were getting any help needed. And top up our wine glasses, obv. Once it was all made, we whipped out our clingfilm covered sushi mats to actually put together our sushi rolls. Aka, the ‘hard part’…
Once I’d loaded up my rice, sauce and fish onto the nori seaweed sheet, it was rollin’ time (and yes, I added that Limp Bizkit reference on my Instagram stories). There’s a bit of a technique to it, but the mat really helps with most of the work. Lifting the mat up, you have to kinda fold it over holding the filling in as you go, then use the mat to roll the sushi into shape.
I hate to brag (no, I don’t), but I think I kinda smashed it. The secret seems to be not over-stuffing the roll with too much rice or filling, otherwise it all oozes out and goes a bit messy.
Once thing that did impress me about the Avenue Cookery School’s sushi making class is how much actual food you got out of it. I was expecting a handful of sushi, but instead, ended up with a total of three whole rolls to tuck into at the end. I couldn’t even finish mine, so some got wrapped up to take home for Conor. I’m nice like that.
And the finished product was pretty delicious, if I say so myself. A fun and enthusiastic teacher, wine glasses that seemed to be magical in that they were never empty, great quality ingredients and the chance to tuck into a HUGE plate of sushi at the end? This is one cookery class I won’t be forgetting in a while. And now I know the ‘how’, it’s something I might just be able to recreate in my own kitchen…
The Sushi in the City class costs £80 for one, or £150 for two. The Avenue Cookery School run a range of other classes in both their Wandsworth and City locations, including evening classes covering Italian, Mediterranean and Thai cuisines – among many others!
*I attended a complimentary class courtesy of The Avenue Cookery School – honest opinions offered, as always!