Atsuko's sushi

Another November, another spot of learning shojin ryori at Atsuko's Kitchen. (you can tell I wrote this post a while back, right?!)

Shojin ryori is the temple cuisine of Japanese Buddhist monks, and it's all totally vegan. Hurrah!

Every year, Atsuko's Kitchen (a one-woman cooking school that holds classes in Shoreditch, London) hosts a cooking lesson with Mari Fuji, who's so good at this shiz, she's quite literally written the book. I've been a couple of years before, and when Mari was in town a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make a return visit.

On the menu this year was mock sushi - turns out in shojin ryori, you might not eat meat, but you can make sushi that looks like it. Check it out - the red pepper nigri (bottom right corner) is meant to be like salmon, and the pumpkin sushi (top right corner) is meant to be sea anemone. Who knew?

The sea anemone sushi topping was a mixture of pumpkin, dashi stock, and spice, turned into a creamy paste, and then piped on top. It was my first time piping anything, and I didn't even mess it up (alas, I didn't get a shot of my handiwork, but I was chuffed it looked like it was supposed to!)

The other sushi up there is beetroot, eringi mushroom, aubergine, and asparagus. They were all lovely, but the winner was the asparagus by a country mile. I kept sneaking an extra one while no one was looking.

The three-hour ish class saw us around 12 people making a dish each. Aside from those beauties up there, there was a fake eel sushi made with potato and nori, the ever-reliable agedashi tofu, and a delicious - and deliciously simple - mushroom soup.

There was also a bit of experimenting with agar to make a savoury jelly with dashi stock, kumquats and avocados. Sounds like it would be a bit grim, right? Not even close - it was a gem. A squidgy, sharp gem.

The best bit? You get to eat everything that you, and everyone else, made. Actually, that's not the best bit. The best bit is that you get to eat everything that you, and everyone else, made - and it's all delicious.

Atsuko's Kitchen
At The Grocery 
54-46 Kingsland Road
E2 8DP


  1. Now that's a class I'd love to take. How do people think of these things? My sushi is all so ordinary looking; I'm chuffed when it's round and neat! The in your photo sushi looks so beautiful, and I can just imagine how delicious it was. Do you think you'll make it again at home?

  2. Wow! Such creativity and artistry! Too pretty to eat.

  3. Very cool! I've never taken a cooking class but this sounds like a lot of fun. Plus they're all beautiful. I especially love the pumpkin one and the radish! What inventive flavors. I feel like I should go eat veggie sushi now.

  4. That looks like an amazing class to take. What absolutely beautiful looking food.

  5. That is the most beautiful sushi I've ever seen. No lie. What a fun learning experience! This makes me even more excited to go to Austin next month, food school is the best. :)

  6. How fun! I want to do something like that! And, I love that the mock meats weren't just soy meats but cleverly disguised veggies. :-)

  7. Ooooh, what a gorgeous spread of sushi! That would have been a very inspiring class to be involved in. I'm a bit intimidated by Japanese cooking, I know I'll get around to it one day but keep putting it off.

  8. Making vegan sushi sounds like a great idea for a class because it would be hard to make that kind of variety on your own. That's a really beautiful spread of food. The red pepper nigri looks so much like salmon it's a little scary, but I'm glad it's not. I really like the one with the red and white "pinwheel." I guess that's a slice of beet - ?


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