Gorgeous sushi at the Global Sushi Challenge – London
Sushi, one of my favourite things to eat, has an ancient and facinating history. It has evolved with time but sushi was originally fermented meat or fish, prepared for the puspose of preservation. Records goes back to the 2nd century. It wasn’t until between 1827 and 1829 that sushi and raw fish was combined and this is what today is known as Edo or Edomae style sushi, originally created as an inexpensive fast food for the busy citizens of Edo.
I went to see the London heat of the Global Sushi Challenge, the largest international competition for sushi chefs. The London heat was held at Nobu and each competing chef had been asked to prepare an Edomae and one original sushi. I couldn’t wait to watch this. I love to make sushi but I am fully aware that I have a lot to learn and even if I dedicated the rest of my life to sushi it might still not be enough. Saying that I still enjoy making and eating it but I have to admit I was hoping I would pick up some inspiration as well.
The competition featured two elements
- Edomae sushi creating 2 pieces Norwegian salmon, 1 piece of pelagic fish (i.e mackerel), 1 piece of white fish (halibut/cod), 1 piece of shellfish, 1 piece of boiled prawn, 1 egg and 1 kappa maki, a cucumber roll cut in 6. This was to be done in ten minutes and presented to the judges.
- Original sushi competition. Here the contestants could use all of their creativity and they had to make two identical plates with twenty pieces each. Within this challenge was an a la minute, a five minute challenge where the conpetitors choose a Chef’s recommendation piece for tasting and had five minutes to create five identical pieces for the judges to taste.
Sushi is about top quality ingredients and an amazing amount of skill. The salmon used was from Norway, supplied by the Norwegian Seafood Council. The salmon is sustainably farmed in the cold Norwegian waters and it looked amazing. Having grown up in Sweden we of course know that the best salmon comes from Norway and I am only happy that the word is spreading. There were plenty of other amazing ingredients and I could not stop taking pictures.
It takes at least ten years to become a sushi master but having just read an interview with Jiro Ono, a living legend, the owner and sushi master of the three Michelin starred restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro where he says he never stops learning.
They made cutting the fish up look so easy.
I saw soy paper for the first time, this can be used instead of nori.
Salmon nigiri getting a very light touch of smoke
There was some absolutely stunning sushi being made and I can only describe it as sushi porn. I could not stop taking pictures! I hope you will enjoy them, I can only say I wish that one day, I can make sushi that will come close to looking this tempting.
It was a great day, nerves, tension, artistry and some fantastic sushi.
I was happy to see contestants from many of my favourite restaurants!
Diana Pinto Basto de Carvalho/Maze Grill Park Walk
Sam Jonathan Butler/House of the Rising Sun
Tai-Po Wong/Sushi Samba
Xia Jian Tian/Kouzu
YouLong Zheng/Sake no Hana
Francisco Del Rosario Papica IV/Ciscoes Pan Asia and Sushi
A big congratulations to Mr Xia Jia Tian, Restaurant Kouzu who won and will go to Tokyo, Japan and compete in the final in November!
The day was finished off with a celebratory sake toast from a barell, served in wooden boxes – that’s the way to do it!
Making sushi is a skill for life and I have so much to learn. Saying that, even if I made sushi every day for the next ten years I still not sure it would look as beautiful as this but would give it a go and as long as it tastes ok.