Dec 17, 2012

Learning how to make sushi

I love gift certificates especially ones that turn out to be such a wonderful surprise. Imagine sushi preparing class in Central New York. John and I were impressed with many facets of Mohegan Manor. I loved the fact that Mohegan Manor was created from two historic buildings. In 1911 the main part of the Manor was the Oddfellows Mohegan Lodge. The lounge was the original post office for Baldwinsville. They have been beautifully blended and restored by Dennis Sick. It has been the home of Mohegan Manor since 1989. Mohegan Manor not only has a restaurant, bar, and event facilities it has a Sushi Club with a dedicated sushi chef.  The Club is located downstairs in a large, attractively decorated room with a bar and where our sushi making class took place. 

Sushi has been popular in the United States since the 1980s because it is considered to be very healthy but its origins can be traced back to the 4th century BC when it was developed as a way to preserve fish by storing it in cooked rice.  In the beginning the fish was eaten but not the rice. Over the years sushi underwent a few changes and round the 8th century AD it was introduced into Japan where it became a cuisine rather than a way to preserve food.

John and I arrived a bit early which was a good thing because it gave us time to watch Peter, the sushi chef, preparing some sushi. It looked so easy but found out that making great looking sushi on the first try wasn’t that simple. Ten of us gathered around the bar for our “How to Make Sushi” class, which is offered once a month. However, sushi is always available in the restaurant and lounge as well as the Sushi Club.  After our get acquainted glass of wine we were served a delicious salad with tempura calamari topped with slivers of mango.   “Can’t feed you on an empty stomach,” quipped Peter who offered a sprightly banter throughout the class.

After the wonderful salad we enjoyed the sushi we had seen Peter preparing - Crispy Tuna, Shrimp and Mahi Rolls with wasabi and pickled ginger. It made a sushi lover out of me.  He said when buying fish for sushi first check the color. There should be no discolored spots and then smell it. “If it smells fishy then something is fishy!”

Then it was our turn to make the sushi.  Following Peter’s instructions I placed the nori (seaweed) shiny side down, wet my fingers in the bowl provided, and then tried to cover the nori completely with the rice. Peter called it, “Finger painting for adults.” I sprinkled it with sesame seeds Peter had toasted, flipped it over and layered slivers of avocado, celery and crabmeat on the nori. Using a sushi mat I rolled it up tight.  I need more practice as mine was a bit messy and got messier as I tried to slice it into eight pieces.  However, it still tasted wonderful. The meal ended with something more traditional: a decadent chocolate brownie with ice cream.

“How to Make Sushi Class” is the prefect gift for the hard-to-get-for person. They have other gift cards and a variety of activities including "Let's Get Sauced," a cooking class with Chef Tim Brown that includes a five-course dinner with wine pairing.