FOOD - "The Delicious" - Guest Blogger - SUMMAR - Japanese

Sushi class with Iron Chef Morimoto: How do YOU roll?

October 20, 2009

I walked into Morimoto at this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival overconfident that I could not only “roll” well above par, but that I’d also make one spicy yellowtail scallion roll I’d never forget.

When you’re a sushi addict, you tend to think you’ll have the knack for the making as well as you do the eating. Not so. Not only is it a lot harder than it looks, but the process is a perfected craft.

Me and Chef Morimoto! Did I mention he signed my sushi mat for me??

Me and Chef Morimoto! Did I mention he signed my sushi mat for me??

The Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto, himself joined his staff for the all-important lesson (although a bum arm meant he wouldn’t be doing the cutting or rolling himself), and we were able to find out more about the restaurant’s own sushi-making in the process.

THE INGREDIENTS:

Morimoto ships two types of short grain rice from California, which is first run through a huller machine before cooked and doused with vinegar to enhance its flavor. The rice is served warm to room temperature, never cold.

Sushi grade A fish shipped directly from Japan is cut into pieces. We weren’t allowed to do this part, with good reason. I wouldn’t give myself a knife and extremely raw meat either.

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The spicy mayo is made with korean chili paste, lemon, mayo and sesame oil.

Unlike other restaurants that add mustard, cornstarch and dye to horseradish to make faux wasabi, Morimoto gets real wasabi (a cousin called Wasabia japonica) sent straight from Japan.

THE PROCESS:

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1. A piece of seaweed is placed onto a sushi mat, rough side up. This is where the rice will go.

2. Once the rice is cooked and splashed with vinegar, the chefs moisten their hands with plenty of water. You need the water to keep the rice from sticking to your hands. I didn’t take this too seriously and let’s just say my surroundings were a lot less clean from this point onward. And I’m pretty sure I still have rice in my hair.

3. Three ounces of sushi rice are rolled into a ball the size of a lemon. The rice is then placed onto the seaweed and flattened evenly until it covers the entire sheet.

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4. Sesame seeds are sprinkled on top before it is flipped over to reveal the smooth side of the seaweed, which is ready for the remaining ingredients.

5. The chefs add their special spicy mayo, along with a generous sprinkling of scallions.

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6. Then, the piece de resistance, long pieces of your choice of yellowtail, tuna and salmon. Four pieces in one roll make for a medium-sized cut piece, a perfect amount in my opinion.

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7. The chefs then take the sushi mat, roll it over once, pressing down to form a slight square-ish shape, and then do it twice more for added measure. I started to do this on my own when one of the chefs ran over to help, because yes, I looked that clueless.

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8. They then cut the newly formed roll into six pieces, and Voila! Sushi!

End result.

End result.

AND in case you’re curious on just how fast the pros do it, I took a video JUST for you guys:

OTHER NOTEWORTHY DETAILS:

  • With sashimi, the chefs sandwich wasabi between the piece of fish and rice. The amount of wasabi is adjusted depending on the cut and fattiness of the fish, altered to accentuate and enhance the flavor of the meat.
  • With rolls, the chefs suggest that you put your wasabi directly onto the fish, not into your soy sauce as most Americans do.
  • They also say to go easy on the soy sauce to avoid overpowering the fish’s flavor, another all too common faux pas.
  • All in all, the meat was fresh, the spicy mayo had just the right kick, and the wasabi even better. My spicy yellowtail scallion roll was up to my sushi addict expectations, with no credit to myself whatsoever.

    It was great fun, but I think I’ll stick to the eating from now on.

    Restaurant Info:
    Morimoto
    88 10 Ave
    btw 15th and 16 St.
    New York, NY 10011
    212-989-8883
    Chelsea

    -Summar Ghias
    BATF’s NYC Guest Blogger

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