Something that Simon and I found we share is a mutual love for cooking and trying new foods (and just eating food in general- I'm pretty sure most of our early dates involved dinner), so with this discovery we thought it would be fun to set ourselves a little challenge and embark on a hypothetical trip around the world, having themed cooking nights at home and turning them in to a blog series.
Both lovers of sushi, we agreed that Japanese cuisine would be a good place to start, and after a week of intensive research Simon had dubbed himself a theoretical sushi master. He also discovered Kazari, a fantastic website which sells the sushi-grade fish (super-frozen throughout at -65 degrees to make it suitable for raw consumption) needed to make safe, legit sushi (none of that smoked stuff from Tesco, although we used that too...). As it can get quite expensive to buy specialty fish (Kazari also charge £5.99 for 24 hour delivery within the UK to ensure that it gets to you as fast as possible), we decided to start off small and cheap for our first attempt at sushi making and opted for a piece of Sake (Atlantic salmon top loin, £8.99) and four steamed and prepared shrimp (£3.29). We also picked up the essentials needed to make sushi, including sushi rice, yakinori seaweed sheets and a bamboo rolling mat, plus a few extras such as wasabi paste, pickled ginger and sushi vinegar, which brought our whole order to around £40.
Following his new-found expertise, I let Simon be in charge of making the norimaki- cylindrical rolls of rice with fillings inside, wrapped in a sheet of nori- plus the "inside out" version with rice on the outside- uramaki. I have attempted to make these types of sushi in the past and mine didn't come out looking so photogenic (probably due to my lack of rolling mat and an extra sharp knife- you need these to make pretty-looking sushi!), so I assigned myself the slightly easier temaki hand rolls and nigiri- a thin sliver of salmon, crabstick or a shrimp placed on top of a mound of hand-pressed rice (I make it sound impressive though, huh?). The ingredients that we bought made enough sushi to feed around four people, and since
it didn't not every piece fell apart upon contact with chopsticks and nobody fell ill afterwards, I'd vouch to say that our first sushi night was a success!
Setting ourselves a three-course challenge, we also decided to try our hand at making our own version of the popular Wagamama classic, Chicken Katsu Curry. Mainly containing ingredients that could be found in the kitchen cupboard we followed this recipe and I don't think we did a bad job, although the sauce could have been a little thicker.
I hate to be the one to judge a book by its cover, but when the Japanese-style cheesecake we made for dessert came out of the oven, photographs of its convex shape and sunken edges were the last thing I wanted to take for this blog post. With beaten egg whites serving as a key ingredient in Japanese cheesecake, it is a very light and delicate cake that is difficult to perfect without getting a cracked top at the very least. Simon was proud of our attempt, however, and I wish I had had a little more faith in our sad-looking little cake, as served with cream and a spoonful of apricot jam as recommended, it actually tasted really good.
So, now that we are practically professional Japanese sushi chefs, we are already planning the theme for our next night in- Anyone for Spanish tapas?
Are you a fan of sushi? Ever tried making your own?