Thursday, 16 August 2007

how NOT to fillet a fish...

...or why you should pay attention when the cooking instructor is demonstrating.

A selection of sushi and sashimi prepared by Nora-san

The path to learning how to make the platter above was not a smooth one. I mentioned in my last post that Quikong arranged for us to attend a 4-hr Sushi and Sashimi Workshop by Chef Hideo Dekura at the Sydney Seafood School last Saturday. It consisted of 2 hours of demonstration by the chef and then participants get to don aprons for 2 hours of hands-on practise in another room where there is a kitchen space for each participant. Hideo-san had a great sense of humour so the workshop was a lot of fun.

Chef Hideo Dekura

The class kicked-off at 11am and Hideo-san began explaining all the tools that we needed for sashimi and sushi making like the types of knives, ingredients, etc. He also showed us how to cook an omelette Japanese style. Japanese style omelette is a little sweet because sugar is added to the batter (see recipe at the end of post). It is made up of a few layers and its made in a square pan. He even "branded" it with a flower motif. Look at how beautiful it is:

Japanese Omelette with Asparagus (Recipe at the end of post)

He also showed us how to make a few simple makis (sushi rolls):


Assortment of "inside-out" style of maki

By the time Hideo-san demonstrated how to prepare fresh seafood for sashimi, my mind had started to wonder off to what I was going to have for lunch.

Chef Hideo demonstrating how to fillet salmon for sashimi

I am sure all of you can understand that after seeing all these lovely food being prepared (and it was lunch time by now), naturally I was happily dreaming away about all the different types of sushi I was going to make when we move into the kitchen. I was thinking, of course Hideo-san is not going to make us clean cuttlefish or fillet fish, it's too complicated. I was even making fun of Quikong who was writing copious notes and drawing diagrams of how to fillet the fish:

Quikong's notes

Guess what we saw when we made our way to the practise kitchen? WHOLE FISH and CUTTLEFISH that were waiting for us to fillet. I should have paid more attention. Now it was Quikong's turn to tease me as he watched me struggle to gut the fish, fillet the delicate skin off the whiting, remove the cuttle bone of the cuttlefish, etc. It got messy, folks. But I think that I didn't do too badly because I still had a lot of edible fish fillet left after all that de-boning and skinning. Never worked that hard for my lunch before!!

Then comes the fun part of making the sushi and assembling the sashimi on a plate. I really learnt a lot and it's so much fun to play with food.

Cuttlefish Sashimi with Okra and Pickled Turnip

My lunch!

The organisers were very generous with ingredients so I ended up with a lot of food. Enough for lunch & dinner. The freshness of the seafood was amazing. The sashimi (salmon, kingfish, whiting and tuna) just melted in my mouth. It was my second time eating raw cuttlefish and I really liked it - it had an almost creamy texture and not chewy at all. I also love how the salmon row "pops" in my mouth. Quikong and the other three friends who came along to the workshop did not like it though. Knowing that I prepared the meal myself made every morsel even more satisfying!

Hideo-san has written a few books and is in the midst of writing another one. I purchased this book at the end of the workshop. It covers all the basics of Japanese cooking in a clear manner. Hideo-san wrote a lovely message and autographed my book (does this make me a groupie?) ;-)

Each participant was given a few freebies at the end of the workshop (e.g. sushi rice, soy sauce). Quikong & I also went to a Tokyo-mart a few days later and bought other ingredients for sushi making. Our first try will be tomorrow for a friend's birthday party.

Tamago-yaki (Thick Omelette)
Serves 4 as a starter
(Omelettes are tradiotional made in a rectangular/square pan called makiyakinabe)

4 x 70g eggs

1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp mirin
pinch of salt
2 spears of asparagus, blanched
oil for frying or non-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup grated daikon & 1 tbsp soy sauce, to serve

1 - Beat eggs with sugar, mirin and salt.
2 - Heat omelette pan with a little oil (or use non-stick cooking pray) until medium heat.
3 - Gently pour in a third of the mixture to cover the base of the omelette pan.
4 - Place asparagus in the centre of the omelette and roll omelette across to the other side of the pan.
5 - Pour a little oil to the empty section of the pan, and pour another third of misture, making a rectangular double omelette.
6 - Move the omelette to the back of the pan, and repeat with the final third of the misture, making a rectangular triple omelette. Press with wooden paddle or egg-lift to form a neat rectangular shape.
7 - Cut omelette into 2.5cm strips and serve with grated daikon and soy sauce, or use as a nigiri-sushi filling.


Kelly Mahoney said...

What an awesome class! I'd love to take something like that, you're so lucky. I wouldn't know the first thing about filleting my own fish though, I usually just have it done by the fish monger. Thanks for the great ideas for maki, I would have never thought about using okra. I'd love to have a sushi party with my friends sometime.

Anh said...

Oh Nora, what a great time you had! *envious*. ;)

But thanks so much for all the info there. I will have to catch some cooking demonstration classes, too! It's so good to see the techniques executed my real masters, rite? :D

KJ said...

Hi Nora, it sounds like you had a lot of fun.

I've tagged you for a meme. Visit my blog for details.

Patricia Scarpin said...

That is so much fun, Nora!! You've learned some beautiful and delicious food!

I won't way a word about the notes because that looked like my notebooks from the university. :)

katiez said...

What an interesting class! I like sushi and sashimi...but I'm not sure if I could eat the raw fish if I had to gut it first...I'm such a wuss - good for you
(I would've been dreaming about lunch, too)

Valli said...

What a wonderful experience. You are lucky to have such a highly regarded chef in your area. The best thing about the cooking schools, besides learning new skills of course, is sampling!!I have a rolling mat and all the tools to make sushi from years ago when I saw a demonstration at a cookbook store in Calgary. I'm glad you enjoyed your stay in British Columbia. Victoria is one of my favourite Canadian cities after Quebec City. I live in Kelowna, so, you were in my neck of the woods!!!

Lydia said...

What a beautiful lunch you made for yourself! That's the thing about sushi and sashimi -- by the time you've practiced making it, you end up with far too much to eat!

Susan said...

Nora, what a gorgeous array of accomplishments! Looks like you had a blast. That platter is so generously laden with goodies. Thanks for the tamago recipe (a favorite), and for the cookbook recommendation. Hope I can get it here in the U.S.

Nora B. said...

Kelly M. - A sushi party would be so much fun! It was my first time eating raw okra and I think that it was well-paired with raw cuttlefish.

Anh - Yes, it was a lot of fun. It was amazing to see Hideo-san's skills. He makes it looks so easy.

KJ - Hi! Thanks for tagging me. I've been trying to look at your blog each time you've commented but somehow I don't see a link for your blog...?

Patricia - It was fun and I did learn a lot so I really should continue practising before I forget anything. I really shouldn't have made fun of his notes because it will now be a useful reference. :-)

Katie - I actually lost my appetite while I was gutting the fish, etc. But after I platted the sushi and sashimi, my appetite came back. I just had to block out the initial experience :-)

Valli - Yes, it was great to see such a skilled chef in action. i don't think that I will be filleting any tuna anytime soon though ;-) Wow, you're from Kelowa?? I'll have to dig up my photos from my visit. Victoria was my fav. city too during that visit.

Lydia, Quikong had no problem finishing all his food. He must have burnt lots of energy from all the note taking. LOL :-)

Susan - You're welcome. The book was surprisinly only AU$29.95 and it was published in 2005. I like to buy Australian published Japanese cookbooks because the ingredients used would be easier for me to source.

Kevin said...

All of that sushi looks pretty good. I have only ever make cucumber sushi at home. Tamagoyaki is great, I make it all the time.

Wendy said...

Great fun!! Isn't sushi so very pretty?
Well done on tackling those whole fish. :)

Kelly-Jane said...

That sounds like such a fun class, and if there is a book at the end of it so much the better!!

I bought most of the bits to make sushi a little while ago, but I must have forgotten - thank you for reminding me :)

Cynthia said...

Hey Nora-san, I think you did a great job. I would love to go to a class like that. Sounds like you and Quikong had fun.

KJ said...

Hi Nora. Sorry about that. Here is a link It's a fun meme. I hope you can visit.

Nora B. said...

Kevin - Thanks. I realise now that sushi making is easy. It's the prepation of the ingredients that takes a bit of time.

Wendy - yes, it's so pretty and so easy to make (minus the fish filleting part!) :-)

Kelly-Jane - Sushi making is so much fun. Time for you to dust off the bamboo mat and get back into it, perhaps? :-)

Cynthia-san, yes it was heaps of fun. I love cooking classes, esp if the instructor is easygoing and funny.

tigerfish said...

Can share your lunch with me? Sounds like a fun class to attend.

Kirsten said...

WOW!! I am so impresssed and jealous - what a great class.

And for what it's worth, I think your sushi looks wonderful and as professional as the sushi I get in some restaurants!


Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Amazing! I'd love to do a class like this. I would have been the copious note taker too but then I find that I miss some of what's being said so not sure it always helps to make lots of notes.