Saturday, 8 August 2015

Review: Cooks Academy Sushi Workshop, Dublin

There’s no doubt it, people are far more educated about food in general these days. Foreign travel, television programmes and cookery books have resulted in our being exposed to different cultures and cuisines and we are keen to learn more about how to cook these  foods for ourselves in our own kitchens. Although historically the Irish are inextricably linked to the potato, the truth is that increasingly, rice and pasta are our main staples and we are drawn to recipes that include them.

Although I love the food of Italy, China and India, it is Japanese food that has long held a certain allure for me, so when I saw that Cooks Academy, located in South William Street was running an evening Sushi Workshop, I jumped at the chance of attending.
 
Cooks Academy offer a range of courses, including month-long certificate courses, one-week Essential Cookery courses and a host of day and evening workshops. The courses cover a range of topics from knife skills, to macaron making and cake decorating plus many others so there is definitely something to suit everyone.
 
I love eating sushi, have long wanted to make my own and recently even bought all the equipment that is required to do so. My one attempt at making it was an unmitigated disaster, so to be honest, despite signing up to the Sushi Workshop, I didn’t hold out much hope that my woeful skills could be improved.
 
As you enter the kitchens, you are immediately struck by how spacious and how well- equipped they are. There are a large number of workstations with plenty of room to work without crowding. Even though there were approximately 24 of us attending the course we never felt cramped or that we were getting in each other’s way. The demonstration area consists of a slightly elevated kitchen with a seating zone where students can easily observe what is going on. The cooking demonstration is projected onto large angled screens so that you can see the finer details involved.
 
Our tutor was the very affable, enthusiastic and knowledgeable Vinnie. He kicked off proceedings by giving us a detailed demonstration of how to cook sushi rice correctly, which is actually far more technical than you might think. Under Vinnie’s reassuring tutelage we all felt that it was something we could achieve and we were all eager to get stuck in. Before being let loose in the kitchen, Vinnie showed us how to make Nigiri (hand-formed sushi), and Nori and Sushi Rolls using a bamboo mat. We also learnt how to make Sushi Crepes and California Rolls. The demonstration took about an hour and then we donned our Cooks Academy Aprons and entered the kitchens to start re-creating the different types of sushi that we had been shown how to make.
 
The great thing about the Cooks Academy Sushi Workshop is that all you have to bring with you is yourself! All the ingredients and equipment are provided and you are also given a detailed booklet containing all the recipes. During the Workshop, we were also given loads of hints and tips from Vinnie on where to source the best and freshest fish and other ingredients we might need when making sushi at home. The great thing that I discovered is that most of them are readily available so there is no excuse not to give it a go!
 
In total we spent about an hour and a half making our own sushi and we had tremendous fun doing so. From my perspective, I found that quite unbelievably, it was far easier than I had thought and really the key thing to get right was the initial cooking of the rice. I was utterly thrilled with the sushi that I produced and it was with a deep sense of pride that I arrived home with package filled with the fruits of my evening’s labours. And yes, they did look (and taste) delicious!
 
The Sushi Workshop costs €70 which I think represents great value for money especially when you take into account the fact that everything is provided and the quality tuition you receive.
 
This is a course that I would highly recommend. It was fun, informative and I left with a renewed enthusiasm for making one of my favourite foods. Like many people, I work full-time, so trying to attend day- or week-long courses can be a little tricky to arrange. These evening workshops fit the bill perfectly and I’m now deciding which one I’ll do next.
 
Cooks Academy
19 South William Street
Dublin 2
 
Telephone: 016111666
 
This review first appeared in TheTaste.ie