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Sushi classes with wine
Parallax in Tremont offers the classes for a second year
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
The students will learn to make a Philly roll and a cucumber roll.
Courtesy of Zach Duvall
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Most fans of sushi, the Japanese raw fish delicacy,  prefer to patronize a talented chef than to try making it themselves.

 

But at one Cleveland restaurant a chef and maitre d’ are pairing sushi with wine, and adding a dash of culinary education.

 

For today’s Quick Bite, we visit Parallax in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood.

make your own sushi

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Maitre d’ Damir Terzic  started sushi classes at Parallax last year.   

 “There were a lot of people who wanted really to find out how it’s done and all that. So we thought, why we don’t have a sushi class but to make it a little more interesting? We’ll just pair it with wine as opposed to classic beer and sake.” 

 

It doesn’t have to be sake

 

 “Yes, sake would be an excellent choice, but you know wine does go really well.  The wines that typically go well with this style of food are wines that have a little higher acidity like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, like Champagne, Gruner-Weltpilner from Austria or a really excellent Riesling. Any good Riesling would work well with it

 

Terzic works well with his colleague. 

 

 “My name is Carmen Papinetti. I’m a sushi chef here at the restaurant. I’m going to demo how to make a Philly role which is on our menu here.”

 

‘Philly’, for Philadelphia cream cheese. It works well with raw salmon. 

 

And a sparkling wine goes well with something that could be rich like a cream cheese.” 

 

Like the sparkling Pinot Noir tonight’s students will enjoy with their meal.  But first they have to learn how to make the sushi.

 

Step one: prepare the work area.  

 

Yes. It’s a little obsessive, I know.” 

 

The technique

 

Now Chef Papinetti’s ready to roll. He lays out a 10-inch square bamboo mat, and coats it with seaweed.  

 

 “Which is roasted, dried and fermented seaweed. Just to make it sound really good.” 

 

Next he spreads vinegared rice over the seaweed. 

 

“The thinner you spread the rice, the better the perceived quality of the sushi. So spread it out. Go over the edge at the top.” 

 

 “Then you add the ingredients which in this case because we’re making a Philly roll, is smoked salmon and cream cheese.”  

 

 “The technique would be the same if it was a spicy tuna roll or a California roll. You just fill the ingredients and then you roll the sushi. And the key is to make a nice tight roll without smashing the rice. You want the grains to look like individual grains of rice as opposed to a wall of paste around the seaweed. Sprinkle sesame seeds over. It’s a nice flavor enhancer. Then from there we cut a sushi roll. And it’s important to cut sushi roll with a wet knife so the rice doesn’t stick to the knife.” 

 

He uses a carbon steel knife and keeps a fingerbowl of water nearby. 

 

 “Keeping our fingers wet because sushi rice is sticky.” 

 

This bamboo tool that you use to roll it what’s that called?

 

“Usually they’re just called sushi mats. This here is the flat side which is where you want to roll the sushi and this is definitely like the back or the bottom of it. If you made your sushi backward and tried to roll it this way, the rounded pieces of bamboo would press up against the roll and you would not have a nice-looking sushi roll . You would have a roll with a bunch of indents around the circumference.” 

 

And that would never do.  

 

 “I learned from an older Japanese man. We worked together for a couple years and I made what I thought were beautiful plates of sushi. I would hand it to him for inspection and he would look over at me and say, ‘Something like that.’ “

 

So it really is a perfectionist’s art.

 

“Absolutely.”

 

 So much a matter of presentation. Well, all cuisine is, but it seems even more-so here.

 

“Absolutely. As a sushi chef your job is not really to manipulate the food but to present it. The better you present it the more acclaim will come your way.”  

 

Fear of sushi

 

 “There are some who fear sushi.

 

“You know I tell people it’s not a food that most of us grew up eating and I don’t try to force someone into it.

 

Why shouldn’t we worry about the raw nature of the fish? “

 

You smell the fish and if it smells like the water it came from, it can be safe to eat. Should sushi then never have a fishy taste? It should never taste fishy. Fishy smell means that the fish has gone bad, and that is universally true. That’s not just a sushi thing.”   

 

 “Something I’ve always wondered. Can Walleye be sushi? It’s a great question because parasites cannot  survive in salt water like they can in fresh water. So if a fish lives all of its life or part of its life in fresh water, it’s probably not a good candidate to eat raw.”   

 

What would be your key piece of advice to someone trying to make sushi at home?

 

“I would say to buy a rice cooker. The quality of the rice is going to go a long way in determining the quality of what you can make. “

 

What kind of rice do you use?

 

“I recommend Nishiki. It’s just Japanese brand rice. It’s a really fine brand.”

 

 “And this roll, which I am happy with, has even rice around the outside. Not too fat with the rice and the fillings look good and uniform throughout. You don’t want to have really thick rice around it because if you do then it’s considered to be a grocery-store quality rather than fine-dining restaurant quality. The idea is that the rice would be warm and the fish inside would be cold. It comes together and ideally you would have body-temperature sushi.” 

 

 

The class concludes and the students relax with their plates of Philly and cucumber roll and goblets of sparkling wine.  

 

 “I am Kathleen Katines. I am from Highland Heights, Ohio. I love seafood. I love sushi. I wanted to learn how to do it myself. I’ve had it here several times. It’s fabulous. So I thought come here and learn from the best.

 

Did you learn? Do you feel confident now that you could do it?

 

“Well, we only did two rolls, and I know that there’s so much you can do but we got a good sense of the feel and how to roll it, and how to handle it. I knew nothing before, so this was really helpful.”

 

You brought your son, Jimmy. Are you a sushi fan also?

 

“Yes I am.”

Is this something you and your Mom like to do together?

“ Absolutely.”

 

 

So are you going to buy the fish and go ahead and do this thing?

 

“Absolutely I’m going to try it at home. I’d love to do it for parties and things. This is just fun. People like this. It’s fun!”    

 

The three-class series at Parallax on consecutive Monday nights costs $135 per person.

 

And that’s this week’s Quick Bite.  Next Friday, it’s an Ethiopian feast that you eat with your hands. 


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Parallax

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