Last week I had the pleasure of being invited down to The Avenue Cookery School for an evening of cookery and drinks. It was a short walk from Wandsworth Town train station in London so the journey from Waterloo was a breeze and it was great to try one of their many classes, sushi-making.
My goal for the night was to attempt to make sushi for the first time in my life and there were lots of food and drink brands on hand to help with the experience. I have only got into sushi in the last few years after Liv introduced me to it. Now it’s one of my go-to easy snacks and done right, it’s delicious. I was confident from the setup of the cookery school that (despite my lack of skills) this was going to be some of the best I’d eaten.
I got there a bit early and, with any good blogger event, drinks were already flowing – glasses of prosecco provided by Thomson & Scott. It was great to briefly meet a few of the other bloggers and Instagrammers that cover food, drink and a whole host of other niches.
The Avenue Cookery School has a big kitchen with small, individual islands which were great for us all to get around to prep our own sushi. But first, we needed to find out a bit more about what it actually is, and, for people as clueless as me, how it’s made.
You sometimes see it being freshly made in shops but aside from that, some people only ever eat the small plastic packets of pre-made stuff that appear in supermarket fridges.
Sushi, which actually means, “it’s sour” not raw fish, may be really famous in Japan but it actually originated from China. This class was going to be centred around Vegan sushi with all the food and drink being cruelty-free. I’m not fully vegan but have cut down on meat and dairy since doing Veganuary.
We had a great demo from Rich (the son of Diana, one of the owners of the cookery school) at the front of the room and we were all able to watch him work his magic. There was also a mirrored screen above his head so you could really see into the pots and pans on the hob and what his hands were doing wrapping the sushi. He was super patient particularly with the many pictures, videos and questions that we all had.
Rich was even more helpful when most of us fell at the first hurdle trying to bring our special Yutaka sushi rice to the boil, walking around and saving our portions which had already been pre-rinsed and measured out for us. Sushi rice is later covered with a sauce called Sushi Su which is a mixture of vinegar, sugar and salt.
We were also treated to little cans of Thomson & Scott’s Sparkler Rosé, which isn’t something I’d usually grab to drink but after tasting it and finding out it’s vegan and organic wine I’d definitely say it’s worth a go.
We cut the ingredients to go inside the sushi including peppers, avocados and cucumbers – all sent over by the Organic Delivery Company. People that really know me and my eccentric tastes will know about my hatred for cucumber. Scraping the seeds out of one to put in a bowl for the group was like my idea of living hell on earth. “How can you not like cucumber? It’s just like water” is something I’ve heard a lot through my life but here we are. I got there in the end and luckily didn’t have to put any in my sushi 😎
We were rolling the sushi in Nori which is the rollable sheets of seaweed used to wrap it all together. There was the option of making traditional Maki sushi rolls with one layer of rice inside the Nori, California Rolls with the rice on the outside, and also Temaki with the ingredients rolled into a cone. Adding a bit of flavour to the rolls was the classic Kikkoman Soy Sauce and delicious Follow Your Heart Veganaise which I’ve been using at home since the class.
As well as the food ingredients we had all the bits we needed to make some Yuzu Vodka cocktails. These were super easy and made up of Yuzu Citrus Seasoning, Big Dogs Vodka, Fentiman’s Tonic and fresh lemon. I’d never shaken my own cocktail but it was time for me to get creative and try my hand at being a barman by giving it all a good shake in the Drikstuff cocktail shakers.
The drink wasn’t my usual preference being more of a rum fan – too many vodka nights at uni and in Tiger Tiger Croydon back in the day! I was #CheatingOnRum to paraphrase the great hashtag from gin blogger What’s Katie Doing. The cocktails certainly tasted good though (even if a little bitter) and helped me cope later on when I realised how bad my creations looked.
Top tips I took away from the class were:
- Make sushi with rice that has cooled
- Wet your fingers make it easier to move the rice to the corners
- Be delicate with the rice and don’t press too hard when rolling
- Roll with your Nori shiny side down so the outside of sushi is shiny
- You can re-roll your sushi if the shape isn’t quite right
- Try and avoid putting your sushi in the fridge as it’s better fresh
My sushi might not have flown off the shelves in a shop but they tasted good and I was able to try something new. I can’t wait to head back to The Avenue Cookery School for more classes. They offer over 60 different cooking lessons and I’d be keen to try making more new dishes, particularly desserts for my extreme sweet tooth or how to make the fresh bread they served us! It was also a nice surprise to find a sweet treat of a vegan NDCake Atelier chocolate sat in the bottom of the goodie bag too.
Have you ever made sushi or done a cooking class? Let me know in the comments.
~ J ~