Sushi is the new black

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With the first signs of spring weaving through our beautiful South African landscape, the COVID-19 booze ban lifted and family visits officially on the cards again, it is time to get back into fabulously lit outdoor entertainment again.

We all love entertaining gusts at home but nothing says classy like sushi and French champagne around the pool. Classy, exotic, healthy and versatile, sushi is the new black of trendy.

Legendary recording artist, DJ, producer, businessman and popular youth culture icon. Oskido loves sushi so much that he owns a sushi restaurant – Daruma Tappan and Japanese Restaurant by Oskido.

Whether you choose to live your tropical dream with a daytime pool party or go glamorous with a fancy cocktail-style party on the deck; sushi, champagne and selfies are a sure way of establishing you as an A-list party host – especially amongst the ladies.

With an endless array of varieties and shapes on offer to try, sushi is never boring and its immaculate presentation is pure art.

If you’re planning to host a sushi party, the first and most important piece of equipment you’ll need is an extraordinarily sharp knife to create perfectly straight slices of raw fish.

Remember, people eat with their eyes first which is why we recommend one or all of these:

Three sushi knives from the exclusive Miyabi Knives range:

An extraordinarily sharp Miyabi knife is a must for good sushi that will impress your guests.

Yanagiba

Yanagiba means “yellow leaf blade” and is Japanese sushi chefs’ choice for slicing raw fish fillets into thin slices to create sashimi. If value is your game then the Yanagiba is your knife as it is also legendary for trimming fillets of meat.

Kiritsuke

Kiritsuke literally means “slit open” and its shape is widely regarded in Japanese cuisine as an all-rounder that can be used to prepare sashimi or create fine slices of vegetables like cucumber, carrots and avo that add to the aesthetic appeal of sushi.

Sakimaru Takobiki

Sakimaru Takobiki is your go-to for both sushi and sashimi. Sporting a fine blade, it is your number one choice for creating wafer-thin slices of raw fish. No sushi platter is complete without salmon and tuna roses and the fundamental ingredient of this delicate sushi variety is wafer-thin slices of raw fish, wrapped around a ball of rice.

It’s the Benni McCarthy of sushi; guaranteed to score points. The Sakimaru Takobiki is therefore a must-have, like Benni’s golden boot, if you intend to put this classic sushi variation in the back of the net.

An extraordinaliry sharp knife is the foundation of a flawless sushi platter.

We spoke to Sandbar Restaurant and Cocktail Bar’s Zandile Ndlovu, one of Durban’s top sushi chefs to get the low down on how to make epic sushi.

Sushi is best served fresh off the chopping board and the only ingredients that Zandile prepares before service is the rice and prawns – everything else is cut and assembled to order. This is because most of the vegetables like cucumber, carrots and avo go limp or black if sliced in advance.

It is okay to use fresh frozen fish but it must never be defrosted in water as the water pushes into the fish fibers and forces out the natural oils, causing the fish to be dry.

The fresh fish fillets have to be used within two days of defrosting or otherwise it will taste and smell off.

Good quality ingredients are key to sushi that shines and only premium sushi rice is good enough for Zandile’s sushi. She mixes just the right amounts of specialty rice vinegar, salt and sugar into the mix and then cooks the rice for 45 minutes while at the same time steaming the prawns in the shell.

She says it is best to clean the prawns yourself and then steam them in the shells to prevent them curling up – straight prawns just fit better into a roll.

The fish must be sliced straight and at the right thickness for the sake of presentation and balance of flavours and Zandile stresses the importance of using a top quality, super sharp knife.

To roll the sushi, Zandile says you will need a bamboo mat, covered with cling wrap to prevent the rice from getting lodged in the gaps between bamboo sticks. Rolling sushi takes some practice, especially learning how much pressure to apply.

Roll too tight and the ingredients are squeezed out the sides and the soy sauce won’t absorb into the rice; roll too loosely and the sushi falls apart.

Zandile says sushi mayonnaise can be store bought but recommends you make the wasabi from scratch with wasabi powder and water to secure the right consistency.

To make sure you get the most authentic sushi ingredients, she advises a trip to the Chinese shops as opposed to mainstream supermarkets.

Celebrate spring with a fabuous poolside sushi party. pexels-sebastian-coman-photography-MED
Celebrate spring with a fabuous poolside sushi party. pexels-sebastian-coman-photography-MED

Norwegian Threesome

A slam dunk sushi dish to get the party started in style is the Norwegian Threesome – invented once upon a time on a Phuza Thursday by Sandbar owner, Leonard Staples.

It consists of three items presented in three double shot glasses placed in a straight line on a rectangular plate: diced salmon with chilly, soy sauce and a double shot of Grey Goose Vodka.

Clutch a cube or two of salmon between your chopsticks, dip in the soy sauce, eat, and wash down with a small sip of vodka, repeat.

Ice-cold French champagne is a sushi party's BFF
Ice-cold French champagne is a sushi party’s BFF

Sushi’s BFFs

Champagne and Japanese beer are sushi’s BFFs as they keep the palate cleansed to keep the quality of the sushi in focus.

Because of sushi’s delicate taste and texture, it is best paired with mineral driven, high acid white wines and dry champagnes to enhance and accentuate the sushi’s flavours without overpowering it – sushi also gets along well with Saki shots.

Veuve Cliquot, Moët, GH Mumm, Nicolas Feuilatte…these are some of Sushi’s most seductive French BFFs. She also likes to paint the town red with a few of the flyest South African models like Pongracz, Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, Pierre Jordaan Brut and Krone Borealis Brut.

If you really want to knock the socks of the baes, embrace the tradition of sabrage, the opening of a champagne bottle with the blunt edge of a sabre.

Don’t have a sabre?

No problem; simply use the blunt side of your Miyabi knife!

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