Uh oh, have you been behaving like an oafish gaijin?
It seems that sushi isn’t just delicious anymore — creative types online have transformed this classic staple of Japanese cuisine into Instagram-ready art!
We recently had the opportunity to attend the delightful reception “Celebrating Worldwide Recognition of Washoku and Rice” aimed to present the appeal of rice and its importance in Japanese cuisine (washoku). In our first article covering the event, we gave you a round-up on the talks and demonstrations made by three guest speakers during the first part of the evening’s program, including the serving of a traditional Japanese meal prepared by a master chef. Now, it was time for us to get active and try our hand at a bit of sushi rolling!
In this, the second and final article in this two-part series, we’ll attempt to create a special futomaki sushi roll known as Futomaki Matsurizushi (“thick roll festival sushi”) like the one made by Ms. Eiko Ryuzaki, president of the Chiba Traditional Local Cooking Study Group, in one of the presentations earlier that evening.
Okay, so we weren’t going to be able to create an entire plate of colorful festive futomaki rolls like the display in the picture above, but we were excited about the chance to make even just one pretty little roll! So, were we ready to get our hands sticky with rice? You can bet we were!
All of Japan was thrilled when traditional Japanese cuisine, or washoku in Japanese, became a registered UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in December last year. And one thing that is for certain when it comes to Japanese food is that we Japanese love our rice with a passion. We have various brands and classes of rice, with differing flavors and prices depending on where it’s grown, much like what you might expect with fine wine, and we all have our favorites. It’s simply an irrefutable fact that rice holds a very central place in Japanese cuisine and in the hearts of the Japanese as well.
Yes, there’s nothing quite like the sensation of inhaling the scent of steaming hot freshly cooked rice when you open the rice cooker, and as fond as we are of rice, we were delighted to have the opportunity this week to attend a reception for foreign media titled “Celebrating Worldwide Recognition of Washoku and Rice“. And when we heard that it included being served a traditional Japanese meal by a master chef from a renowned Japanese restaurant and also a chance to try making some unique sushi rolls ourselves, we knew this was definitely a reception we couldn’t miss!
There’s been a lot of research into the mystery of umami, the mild, pleasing savoury flavour that’s said to exist at the heart of Japanese cuisine. Often referred to as “the fifth taste”, alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter, umami was first discovered by a Japanese professor and only officially recognised as a proper scientific term in 1985. Now, almost thirty years later, the delicate flavour is finally set to meet its perfect partner in a beer called Wazen (lit. Japanese meal). Due for release on April 8, the beer is being billed as “the beer for Japanese food”.
Japanese food has been gaining in popularity all over the world, and with the induction of traditional Japanese cooking, or washoku, as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, locals are expecting interest to rise further.
If you’d like to branch out a bit from your usual sushi rolls and try your hand at some washoku recipes, not only taste but also presentation is key. We’ve collected a handful of simple tips from the pros on how to make your Japanese cooking look as good as it tastes.