I love gift certificates, especially ones that turn out to be such a wonderful surprise. That’s exactly what happened with a certificate for a sushi preparing class in Central New York.
The class was held at Mohegan Manor, a former Oddfellows building built in 1910 in Baldwinsville, New York. I was intrigued by the fact that Mohegan Manor was created from two historic buildings.
In 1911, main part of the Manor was the Oddfellows Mohegan Lodge. It was renovated into a restaurant, banquet facility, and lounge in 1990. What is now the lounge was the original post office for Baldwinsville. The two buildings have been beautifully blended and restored by Dennis Sick. In addition to the restaurant, bar, and event facilities, Mohegan Manor 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.
Ancient Art, Hands On Sushi
Sushi has been popular in the United States since the 1980s, in part, because it is considered to be very healthy. However, its origins can be traced back the 4th century B.C. in Southeast Asia when it was developed as a way to preserve fish by storing it in fermented rice. In the beginning, the fish was eaten, but not the rice. Over the years, sushi underwent a few changes and it spread to China. Around the 8th century AD, sushi was introduced into Japan where it became a cuisine rather than a way to preserve food.
John and I arrived a bit early, a good thing because it gave us time to watch Peter, the sushi chef, prepare some sushi. Peter made it look so easy, but we quickly found out that making great looking sushi on the first try wasn’t that simple.
Ten of us in gathered around the bar for our “How to Make Sushi” class, which is offered once a month. (Sushi is always available in the restaurant and lounge as well as the Sushi Club. After a 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 sprightly banter throughout the class.
After the wonderful salad, we enjoyed the sushi we’d seen Peter preparing earlier, including Crispy Tuna, Shrimp and Mahi Rolls with wasabi and pickled ginger. This dish made me a sushi lover!
Chef Peter told us it’s important when buying fish for sushi to first check the color. There should be no discolored spots. You should alsosmell it. It should have a clean smell of the ocean with no fishy odor.
“If it smells fishy then something is fishy!” he said.
Then it was our turn to make the sushi. Following Peter’s instructions, I placed the sheet of nori (seaweed) shiny side down, wet my fingers in the bowl provided, and then tried to cover the nori completely with the rice.
Peter calls this part, “Finger painting for adults.”
I sprinkled the rice with sesame seeds that Peter had toasted earlier. Then I flipped the whole thing over and layered slivers of avocado, celery and crabmeat onto the nori. Using a sushi mat, I carefully rolled it up tight, pressing to make all the ingredients stick together.
My first attempt wasn’t that successful and it was obvious that I’ll need more practice. My sushi roll was a bit messy and got messier as I tried to slice it into eight pieces. However, it still tasted wonderful.
Our meal ended with something more traditional: a decadent chocolate brownie with ice cream.
“How to Make Sushi Class” is the perfect gift for the hard-to-buy-for person. They have other gift cards and a variety of classes and other offerings, including “Let’s Get Sauced,” a cooking class with Chef Tim Brown that includes a five-course dinner with wine pairing. A culinary gift is good for any reason and any season. For more information check moheganmanor.com. – Sandra Scott, RFT Contributor