Brian Goes To Sushi School






For Chanukah in December 2001, I received a great gift...Sushi 101. Publix supermarkets, a popular chain here in Florida, has started a new program of cooking classes in their newer stores - called Apron's Cooking School. AFC, who makes fresh pre-packaged sushi for supermarkets around the country, joined forces with Publix to hold a sushi rolling class. So, before I knew it, I was in front of sticky rice, sheets of seaweed, veggies, and sashimi.

After a brief tutorial of rice preparation and sashimi slicing, it was our turn to hit the counter and put together some rolls. Among the sushi I prepared: California Roll, veggie roll, crab roll, cream cheese & crab roll, smoked salmon nigri, tuna nigri, shrimp nigri, and eel nigri...and we all got a sample of spicy tuna roll prepared by the instructor (pictured on the third row left shot - on the left hand side of the photo). In fact, when I mentioned that spicy tuna was one of my favorites, he made me a spicy tuna special...which was fabulous. We also got some sake & instructional material to cook our own sushi, but unfortunately, in my haste to return to prepare my child's dinner, I accidentally walked off without them. I also forgot my sunglasses, which were returned to me in the parking lot...but I did manage to remember to take home the leftover sushi I didn't eat after the tutorial...which wasn't much, I'll tell you. I made "medium rolls", their term for rolls with the rice on the outside...and "small rolls", often with one or two ingredients on the inside, and the nori (seaweed) is on the outside of the roll. I ate alot of sushi, and I was very happy...but they didn't have my yellowtail, or fresh salmon - but I couldn't have everything, right?

I'll have to say that, after learning how to prepare rice, the fish & veggies, and everything else...I'll stick to my original theory, which is, I'd prefer leaving it to the pros! There's a reason these people do what they do...and why they are in such high demand (even for the pre-packaged stuff in supermarkets). From making the shrimp flat for nigri, to the selection of sushi-grade fish in markets, its not worth the trouble. I could see the possibility of making a large amount of California Rolls for a party, but people who know me realize that I have two left hands when it comes to the kitchen...and it would take me a few tries to get it right! I'm sure it takes practice, but it was difficult to make a ball of rice for the right shape for nigri - I almost threw it across the room! I did learn a few tips, though. For example, if you put a bit of avocado on your hands (or gloves in our classroom example), it prevents the rice from sticking to your hands or gloves.

The actual training room was fantastic - it was a huge (atleast by my standards) kitchen with counterspace around the main island for us to prepare our delicacies. The instructior had a mic, and there was even an "eye in the sky" with two cameras, which fed close up and overhead shots to monitors above the island hanging from the ceiling (the cameras were operated by someone on a tiny panel). They had many utensils for sale on the back wall, as well as the AFC sushi supplies...sushi kits, wasabi, rice, vinegar, soy name it, they were selling it.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. The first row left picture is me with Zaw, an AFC employee who used to prepare sushi for the Publix near my house - he was transferred to this newer store months ago. It was good seeing him there.