Saturday, 28 March 2009

Discover Japanese Food #1: Atsuko's "Chirashizushi" (THE EAST Campaign in Association with Atsuko’s Kitchen)

There are many types of sushi, but when it comes to having a celebration or party at home, you can’t beat Chirashizushi. Chirashizushi means ‘scattered sushi’, and is based on sushi rice, mixed with a combination of your favourite ingredients. For the perfect Chirashizushi, you will need to start by making the perfect sushi rice:

(for 4 people)
400 ml rice, 5 cm x 5 cm kombu, 1 tbsp sake, 60 ml rice vinegar,
2 tbsp sugar, ¾ tsp salt

To make Tuna flakes
60 g tin of tuna in oil, 1 tbsp sake, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp shoyu( Dark soy sauce )

To make the egg sheet (like a thin pancake)
2 eggs, 1 tsp sake, 1 tsp sugar, A pinch of salt

For the toppings
Salmon fillet, prawns, or sashimi fillets (try any of your favourite seasonal vegetables, such as broccoli, mange tout, baby corn, carrots, or tomatoes)

1. Wash the rice and leave it to drain for 30 mins.
2. Put the rice, kombu, water and sake into a sauce pan (the rice to water ratio is 1:1.2 for making sushi rice).
3. Bring it to the boil with high heat.
4. When it starts boiling, reduce to a low heat and simmer for 12 mins.
5. Remove from the heat and leave it for 10 mins to calm down.

To make sushi rice
1. To make a sushi zu (sushi vinegar), bring the rice vinegar, sugar and salt to the boil until dissolved.
2. When the rice is cooked, turn the rice into a large plate or bowl.
3. Pour the sushi zu over the rice, and cut the rice sideways with a spatula. Be gentle so that the rice grains aren’t mashed. Let it cool down and cover with a wet cloth.

For the tuna flakes
1. Drain the tuna (use 1tbsp of oil from the tin).
2. Fry the tuna with oil, add the sake and sugar, and stir briskly using four chopsticks to make fine flakes.
3. Add shoyu last then stir constantly until the liquid has evaporated. This can take about 15 mins.
4. Set aside to cool.

For thin egg sheets
1. Mix the sake, sugar, and salt, then mix with the eggs.
2. Heat the frying pan to medium heat, add a little oil, then pour in a ¼ of the egg mix, tilting the pan to spread the sheet evenly.
3. When the surface has cooked turn it over to cook the reverse side for a second, then slide onto a plate. Use kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.
4. Repeat the same method to make 3 more sheets.
5. Cut them in half, then roll up to slice finely (that is the best way to cut into strings)

*The Final stage of Chirashi zushi is to sprinkle all ingredients over the Sushi rice - that is what Chirashi zushi means! - it’s great fun in the party. Enjoy!

About Atsuko
Atsuko is from Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands. Kyushu is an island rich in agriculture, with an abundance of fresh local produce, and a reputation for good food. Ceramics are another famous export, with fine porcelains from Arita, Imari, Satsuma, and Karatsu being recognised worldwide.
Atsuko's dishes are inspired by her mother and grandmother, whose love of cooking with traditional techniques has been a great influence.
Although there are many instant stocks and flavourings available to simplify Japanese cooking, Atsuko prefers to make these herself, recreating the delicate and subtle flavours that can only be obtained through traditional methods. Now based in London, Atsuko has been sharing her knowledge of Japanese cooking with a series of courses which introduce some of the family favourites, as well as the use of the five main ingredients - salt, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and miso. These form the basis of almost all Japanese dishes, and learning the correct methods is the key to understanding Japanese cuisine. The classes are informal and hands-on, resembling more a dinner party with friends than a classroom lesson. There's no fancy sushi on the menu, just everyday home style favourites you might find on the table in any Japanese household.

The course is comprised of 5 classes held over a 5 week period. Individual and group lessons are also available. For information on Atsuko’s courses, visit:

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