Sushi course rolls into Roseville

By: Lauren Weber, The Press-Tribune
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Some see sushi as an art impossible to make at home “ perfectly rolled fish and rice, hard-to-find ingredients and unfamiliar terms “ but thanks to Mikuni Restaurant's Sushiology class, sushi lovers can learn to create the Japanese fare in their own kitchen. Mikuni restaurants in Roseville and Elk Grove currently offer a series of sushi cooking classes that teach the skill of sushi rolling and its history. By taking all five lessons, sushi students graduate as a master of sushi making from Mikuni University. But to make the grade, Sushiology courses must be taken in a particular order starting with level 1A, where students are taught how to make a California roll, spicy tuna hand roll and sushi rice, while sampling Japanese beer and appetizers. The courses have simple prerequisites “ come with an appetite and leave full. Mikuni sushi chef Chris Jackson teaches Sushiology and not only brings his skills to the table, but his sense of humor and his hands-on approach, ensures everyone leaves satisfied and stuffed. Sushi is kind of a neat vehicle, Jackson said. You don't have to be an expert with a knife. It's more of an attitude. It's fun, it's freestyle. Many people who sign up for the class have limited or no experience making sushi, he said. But by the end of the introductory class, students leave knowing utensils such as the bamboo rolling mat called makisu and Japanese terms like uramaki which translates to inside out and refers to the California roll with rice on the outside of the roll. The class levels grow in difficulty and build on skills taught at the previous class, starting with simple rolls and Nigiri-style with a slice of fish on top of vinegared rice, to sushi sauces and deep-fried vegetables and shrimp called tempura. By the end of the last class, students are equipped with the knowledge to make a roll and sushi platter. Lee Morse from Fair Oaks, signed up for the first sushi-making class Monday night and was not only looking forward to assembling the rolls, but eating them too. I love sushi, but I'm scared to death to make it. I know it's an art, Morse said. I'm intrigued by the Japanese culture, the whole history of sushi. The attendees in Roseville got a taste of the traditions, through hands-on rolling and tasting. Step by step, Jackson instructed the students until each student had the two rolls mastered. Pilot Hill resident Danielle Browning, said the real test is if she can bring her skills home to duplicate in her own kitchen. She attended the Sushiology 1A class as a gift from her husband. I get to go home and teach him, she said. More than 50 people signed up for the night and each table was outfitted with Mikuni sushi rice, Kikkoman soy sauce and a plateful of nori, or seaweed. If a student successfully completes all five classes, in addition to being a Mikuni graduate, they are entered to win a trip for two to Japan. John Lewis, a winemaker in Granite Bay, took the courses in 2006 and was the winner of the trip that year. He entered the class with a little bit of sushi-making skills under his belt “ he was familiar with making California rolls “ and now enjoys hosting sushi parties. This was a great class, he said and describes it as inexpensive and entertaining. Although not his first trip to Japan, he said it was one of the best trips. Sushiology is in its sixth year, and part of its success, according to Jackson, is that it's not too technical. There's something for everyone, he said. It's a really fun experience. But Jackson said the key to enjoy any of his classes is to keep an open mind. And an empty stomach.