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As easy as Ichi ni san

When I was growing up in 1970’s Lancashire the most exotic thing I ever ate was a freeze dried Vesta curry. But far from scarring my taste buds forever it has given me a lifelong taste for all things guaranteed to freak out the less adventurous. A sort of self awarded badge of honour if you will. But just as my sister wrinkled up her nose at the sight of me wolfing down a plate of beige watery curry  I’ve seen people have the same kind of reaction to sushi and sashimi. It may well have been this that first spurred me on to try Japan’s most famous foodie export but since then I haven’t looked back. I love it all, the taste of the sea from the vermillion tuna, the clean delicate flavour of spankingly fresh sea scallops and the umami tang of the nori seaweed . I have my favourites and I have my dislikes but as a point of principle I have tried as many different kinds as I can over the years.
yellowtailI’ve dabbled with making sushi many times and it didn’t take long to master the simple art of maki rolls – the thin seaweed covered rolls that you see on all sushi menus filled with a single strip of tuna, salmon or cucumber. But the other day I learnt some of the more complex techniques involved in high end sushi from someone who really knows his stuff. Ex Nobu and Sushi Samba (NYC & Miami) chef Dan Shahar came to teach me some of his signature dishes. What a day! We sliced, we chopped , we grated. Hell, we even pan fried!

img_9646After a shopping trip that involved criss crossing central London in search of the very best fish, Kobe beef and a myriad of sauces, marinades and pickles we set about creating a rolling buffet of dishes to rival anything I have ever seen in a restaurant.

img_9686I watched agog as his experienced fingers stuffed and rolled the perfectly cooked rice around fillings that included tempura prawns, yellowtail tuna and pickled daikon radish.


Under his watchful gaze I cut and arranged the rolls on platters trying to keep up with his lightening hands. The result was a thing of true beauty and something I can only take a very small part of the credit for. I am hoping, though, that some of Dan’s sushi superpowers have rubbed off onto me so watch this space.


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    As easy as Ichi ni san – Michael Harwood

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