Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Benihana. All opinions are my own. SteeleHouseKitchen.com
Have you ever watched sushi being delicately prepared and thought to yourself how amazing it would be to be able to have the ability to do the same? With how much we adore sushi and sake, I’ve always dreamed of being able to invite a houseful of friends for a dinner of beautifully crafted sushi complete with sake pairings. Although I understand the basic terminology of sushi, the preparation of it along with sake pairings is like a foreign language to me, so this dinner party was most likely never going to happen. Then recently, I had the chance to explore these two areas I’ve always wanted to know more about and it all happened at one of America’s beloved restaurants, Benihana.
As I walked into Benihana and was instantly engulfed by the exciting atmosphere, I was greeted with a brightly delicious sake cocktail and my syllabus for the Sushi + Sake 101 class. I sat down and dined on a selection of sushi rolls as I got acquainted with my fellow sushi-loving classmates. Then class began as our sushi instructors taught us basic terminology and touched on a bit of sushi history and etiquette. Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the sake being prepared and the next thing I knew, I was finally understanding all of the terminology and tasting notes that my husband, the sake-obsessed sommelier, always speaks of. We were briefed on the process of how sake made it from grain to fermentation to bottle and the many different classes of sake. I was instantly intrigued by it all and by the time we began to taste and find the flavor profiles of each sake offered, I began to understand how a subtle sake can have the power to accentuate the flavor of the food it is paired with.
Once we had discovered the intricate world of sushi and sake, it was time to put our most important kitchen tools, our hands, to work. With the guidance of our master sushi instructors we began with how to create delicate, flavorful, and perfectly sticky rice. From there we moved on to sushi rolls and nigiri. My hands felt awkward moving in ways they were not used too and I nervously fumbled the jewel-like fish in my hands, but with a few jokes our sushi instructor, Manny, eased my nerves and I was instantly rolling with ease.
In just a few short hours, I learned the enticing art of sushi and the rich quality of sake well enough that I just might have that dinner party soon. To be able to travel down this road and have this bit of education is something I will never forget.
This fun and educational class is certainly a treat and offered a few times a year at Benihana restaurants. With diligent hands, these sushi masters led me through the beautiful art of making sushi and paring sake and I would definitely recommend this experience for anyone interested. Contact your Benihana location to inquire when they are hosting their next Sushi + Sake 101 class and check back with me in a few months when I go behind the scenes of the teppanyaki grill and learn how to Be The Chef!
Read more from Meredith at her blog, Steele House Kitchen