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.
At The Grocery
54-46 Kingsland Road