Toyko/ A dichotomy

 

Arriving in Japan I was ready for a glimpse of the future. Of bullet trains and tall glimmering towers, of technical advancement, robots and super slick efficiency. It certainly was all that and more. Filled with quirks and contradictions, it took me a while to get my head around both the city and the culture. 

The first thing to observe entering the airport was how clean everything was. Four bins lined up to separate out rubbish for recycling. No litter, sparkling floors. For the first time in months I wasn’t in mud, dirt and flies! Instead I had traded by bucket of water and hole in the ground, for a toilet that not only provided you with a warm seat and music, but would spray warm water and dry you too! 

The next thing I would start to notice, was how ordered everything was.  People stood patiently in lines to board the metro. They generally kept themselves to themselves, quiet, reserved. Later I would experience how much so, when getting stares for crossing the road- not a car insight, but people would wait until the light was green to cross. They respected the system. They were well dressed and presented, smiling, friendly. It would seem they didn’t often show much outward displays of emotions, no holding hands. Just small notions to recognise each other. Soft uttered words. Modest people. Though here lay a city screaming with adventure, a playground of lights and oddities, anything but reserved and modest. High fashion luxuries, harajuku girls, the skater goth crowd with purple streaks in their hair. Cat cafes, maids cafes, love hotels, 7 storey sex shops covered in sexualised anime characters, manga, gaming centres, rows upon rows of bars, magic bars, massage parlours, puppies parlours, naked Onsens, geishas, robot kabore, robot run hotels, sleeping capsules, comic stores with sleeping capsules, kareoke booths, vending machines serving meals….the list goes on. 

Here lies a city that could keep you entertained for years. Incredible art exhibitions, beautiful parks, even better food. Behind all of its tall glimmering buildings, something to please your every desire! 

Japan/ Sushi

‘Oshii’ or as we would say delicious…four styles of sushi that I learnt from the lovely Reira

To serve 4 or about 40 pieces:

  • 3 Cups of sushi rice
  • 120ml of sushi vinegar
  • 3 cups of water, plus an extra bowl for keeping the knife and your fingers wet
  • 300-400g of fresh raw fish (we used salmon, fatty tune and seabream
  • Wasabi
  • Seaweed paper (Nori)
  • Veg as you wish- cucumber/ nettle leaves/ avacado
  • Dark Soy Sauce
  • Pickled ginger
  • Sesame seeds (for Californian rolls)

 

Norimaki style-

Wash the rice in cold water, place in saucepan and add 3 cups of water. Reira’s trick – The rice should come up half way up your finger, then the water would come up to you knuckle.

Add saucepan lid and on full heat bring to the boil. Once bubbling, reduce to a low heat. Leave for 10-15mins, until the water has absorbed. Take off the heat and leave to cool. ideally if you have a flat lid you canDSCF0244 - コピー turn the pan upside down, resting in the lid to cook further very, very slowly whilst cooling.

In a wide wooden bowl add a heaped serving spoon size of the rice. You could yous a salad bowl. You want something that is wide to cool the rice down and want conduct the heat, added benefit of the wood is the vinegar when DSCF0235 - コピーyou add it wont sit at the bottom as it would in glass. Add a large drizzle of the vinegar and fold in. Continue to keep adding more rice, then vinegar to evenly mix together. Ideally if you had another person they could fan the rice for it to cool as you mix. When nearly there taste- the rice should be a bit softer than al dente, slightly sticky and gluttonous with a subtle hint of the vinegar.

Now theDSCF0297 - コピー rice is ready time to get rolling! Put the sushi bamboo rolling matt on a chopping board. The rolling matt should have a varnished side, have this facing up. Now lay down the Nori, then put a few dollops of rice on the paper, leaving around 1.5cm gap at the top. Then  wet your fingers and use your knuckles to press it out. It DSCF0269 - コピーshould be only a few mm high.

Then take a pea size amount of wasabi and line down the middle evenly. Now, time to cut the fish. Slice with a sharp blade, each slice should be around 0.5mm thick. Don’t squeeze or press to hard- slice gently. Now the fish is prepared, you can add a layer of fish to the roll. DSCF0305 - コピー

Once the fish, has been added, and any veg you may like you can roll.  With your thumb and forefinger hold the corners, then with your other fingers press in the middle where the fish is and fold over.DSCF0306 - コピー Roll, once rolled press firmly, squeezing the roll. some rice may come out the edges, so using wet fingers push it back in and tidy it up. then unroll the may to leave you with the sushi roll.

When it comes to cutting, always cut in the middle, cutting each piece in half then half again and so on.  Fold some kitchen roll and wet, then wipe the knife so it too is wet. Then put the back of the blade on the middle, knife point tilting up, slice through in a semi circle motion. Once you have cut all the pieces, tidy them up and serve with dark soya sauce and picked ginger.

 

California roll style – (essentially inside out!)

Put cling film over the rolling matt. Scatter seseame seeds, then add the rice as you did before. Add veg and fish, then the nori ontop. Once you have done this a little more rice, you could get fancy and add a thin layer of cooked egg! add wasabi, then role as you did before. Before cutting remove cling film, Slicing sushi will be harder so ensure knife is always wet.

So if you have lots of people and can’t be assed to spend the time rolling then this style is for you.

Temaki  (Basically you make your own cone)

Put the Nagi in your hand, add a dollop of rice, then add wasabi and the fish and bend into a cone shape.

DSCF0349

Finally one for the picnics.

Temari

Get a square of cling film, lay the fish down in a cross pattern, add thin layers of veg if you like then add a dollop of rice. fold the cling film around the dollop to form a ball, tighten the edges and twist. you can leave them in the cling film until you are ready to eat, remove layer and all the tasty balls await you!