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Think opposite (What you can learn from sushi class)

Many things are not what you think they are.

I realized some things from teaching over 1,000 sushi classes in the past decade.

I can share these learnings because I came to understand them through my sushi making and practices.

You, too can experience some of them when attending our classes.

Many things are not what they seem. We tend to think the opposite of what they really are. I knew some of these things when I started teaching sushi classes ten years ago. Now I understand some of them. There is a difference between knowing and understanding.

Let me describe that they are here.

Cooking rice is not just about how much water you need

One of the main reasons how to cook perfect rice recipes do not work (for you) is that almost none of them mention this critical aspect of cooking rice: how much water you will lose when cooking rice. It will be a long explanation, so if you like to read more, here is a full blog article. Anyway, in short, it’s about both how much water you lose, then figuring out how much water you need.

I eat less sushi than you think I do

This is the title of my next book (it will be my fifth book!) It is also my answer to one of the most frequently asked questions:” Which sushi restaurant in San Francisco do you recommend?”

These days after being a sushi chef for some twenty years, I hardly go out to eat sushi. That is because I have learned many techniques and feel less need to learn what other chefs’ sushi tastes like.

Also, I am more focused on running my business.

Another thing is when I have access to sushi every day, I don’t necessarily want to eat sushi that much.

After working for a pizza restaurant for ten years, do you think you still want to eat pizza for dinner tonight? You would likely eat less pizza in this scenario, don’t you think?

Use less force when experiencing difficulty cutting with a knife

I don’t know if this is a “counterintuitive” situation. Many class attendees have difficulty cutting a sushi roll or slicing fish.

Most of the time, those having difficulty are forcing the knife to go down, which results in fracturing the roll or fish. Rolls will be broken, fish will be in pieces. Not good.

When having difficulty cutting, use less force. Instead of using force to move the knife down, let the knife do the work. Let your knife slide on top of the ingredients. Use the sharpness of the knife. Let the knife “run,” as Japanese chefs say.

Choosing a knife is not about the quality of the steel, or how expensive it is. It is about how you sharpen it

I first learned this from a sushi chef Jin-san, whom I met when I started my sushi training some twenty years ago. He was the most skilled chef I’ve ever worked with. Jin-san fillet fish more gracefully and quickly than anyone I have seen. What kind of knife did he use? A fifteen dollar chef knife he about at a restaurant supply store. “I can tell what kind of chef he is by looking at his knife,” Jin-san said to me. “Yes, I have an expensive $2,000 sashimi knife, but it is unnecessary here. It’s about how you sharpen the knife.”

After some twenty years, I find myself using a $15 chef knife to fillet fish just like Jin-san. That knife, it turns out, is one of my favorites now.

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