Shades of pastel layered over the horizon speak of calm, and yet inside me is a fire. Having lived in Japan for a year in 2012, I’ve already been down to Falmouth’s best kept secret restaurant and reviewed their incredible sake and sushi evening.
Being a Cornish food writer and amateur photographer, I jumped at the chance to make California Rolls a few weeks ago. This weekend, however, I went with another Cornwall food blogger Claire Hambly from Aboe Designs and tried my hand at Nigiri making.
The difference between making the California rolls and nigiri was that for nigiri, we had to learn skewering the King prawn to keep it straight. This way, when it’s butterflied to sit atop the ‘log’ of rice, it won’t bend the rice. Fortunately, Paul, a fellow attendee, had previously worked in a Japanese restaurant when he’d lived in Tokyo in the seventies. He explained that in Tokyo his boss would have gone to Tsukiji – the incredible fish market in Tokyo, where trading begins at around 4 in the morning – and bought live king prawns. When he skewered these, they’d use a spine embedded in their fan tail to try and fight back.
Luckily, these were already de-headed, and so skewering them was less a battle and pretty straightforward. Watching their colour become bright pink from grey has always given me joy; growing up in Cornwall and being surrounded by fishermen and amazing chefs. Already Kacho was permeated with the amazing smell of seafood.
Actually making the nigiri shape was much easier than I’d anticipated, but from memory of previous sushi making, getting the rice right is the hardest part. One of my funniest memories of culinary cock-ups happened when I was about 22. I was getting hammered on vodka when I’d invited some friends over for dinner. This resulted in burnt sushi rice and much hilarity. Anyway, thankfully Naoko had pre-cooked the rice expertly, flavouring it with sushi vinegar.
We started off with avocado, which I love, and Claire has a funny phobia of! After the slippery customers finally sat on the rice, I was started to share some of her dislike for it, but to be fair the rest of the sushi seemed pretty easy comparatively. There was delicious thinly sliced radish, cucumber, the king prawn, scallop and teriyaki salmon.
As is customary in Japan, the food was arranged to be visually appealing. Naoko added a variety of delicious toppings for us to decorate and flavour with. One of which was Cornish Sea Salt’s Porcini mushroom mix. The Seaweed Sea Salt would make a lovely addition here too.
Sitting down to eat a lunch of the sushi Naoko made whilst making it ourselves, we were also given a bowl of steaming miso and daikon soup, flavoured with a mushroom dashi. Sven Hannson-Britt created a delicious dashi recipe using The Cornish Seaweed Co’s Kombu. I’m looking forward to interviewing him later in the week for a Tasting Britain profile.
Feeling replete from the wonderful meal, we got to take our makes home, in a traditional cherry blossom print plastic box.
Cornwall has such a thriving food scene, and meeting other foodies at events such as this is testament to the incredible things that happen when people get together. This week I have also been excited to hear from the folks at Bude for Food, who are getting ready to prepare for an even more epic year this year. These guys, and particularly Beth from Widemouth’s Beach House Bay, are the sort of awe inspiring social foodies who are using food to empower communities, and I’m proud to be involved in everything they do.