Firstly, I apologize to the… 5 people who read this blog for the half-year hiatus. As usual, I blame life – things have been quite hectic these past few months, forcing me to put the brakes on blogging yet again.
So what has finally inspired me to come out of blogging hibernation?
Food, of course.
As you’ve probably already noticed, I love food. Really, huge fan of the stuff. Now, although my sister is the chef in the family, cooking is something that all the women in my family enjoy doing, and I am certainly no exception.
Always eager to learn new recipes and techniques, I decided that I would try to go about learning how to create Japan’s most famous culinary export – sushi.
To that end, I was quite delighted to learn about Yuka Mazda. Yuka is a Japanese home cook who has been teaching cooking for over 20 years. After a stint living in the UK, she began giving lessons in Western cuisine to Japanese people upon her return to her home country. Eventually, she also started offering Japanese cooking lessons to foreigners out of her home kitchen.
I first meet Yuka at Hiroo Station, where two other students are also waiting. Together, we walk over to Yuka’s apartment – quite spacious, for Tokyo standards – and enter to find a table laid out with various types of fish, vegetables, mirin, komezu (rice vinegar), pickles, and everything else we would need to prepare our Japanese meal.
“I don’t like to spend too much time explaining things, because then you’ll get bored,” she begins, with a slight British inflection. Instead, she would prefer we learn by getting our hands dirty and diving right in.
And dive in, we do. Yuka begins each step of the process by demonstrating what needs to be done, and then we each take turns cutting maguro and salmon, deveining ebi, seasoning rice, preparing several makizushi, nigirizushi, and even the Western-style uramaki. It’s a veritable sushi-making boot camp, albeit an enjoyable one. And after assembling one roll after another, it’s hard not to get the hang of it. Since there are only three of us in the class, we each get a lot of attention from Yuka. She’s quick to correct mistakes, although she doesn’t hover too much — she gives us a chance to try things for ourselves.
Throughout the class, Yuka is clear in pointing out what is traditional and non-traditional, as well as some background information on the ingredients themselves, but also encourages us to take these newly learned techniques and make our own creations, incorporating ingredients from our home countries.
Before the class is concluded, Yuka prepares the table with nihonshu (sake), as well the tofu, miso soup and sushi we prepared during the class.
Even if you’re a klutz in the kitchen, I highly recommend taking a class with Yuka. (In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I ended up returning recently with my mother-in-law who also wanted to learn how to make sushi, although this time, I opted for the daifuku course).
You’ll learn a new skill, and at the very least, gain a greater appreciation for the sushi that you scarf down at your local kaitenzushi.
Website: Cooking School YUKA MAZDA
Price: ¥4,800 – ¥8,000