Community members master ‘Art of Sushi’ in class

Anyone can make sushi.

Just ask Kelley Sarles, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Arts and Crafts director and sushi class instructor. She taught herself to make the Japanese –style rice rolls by reading a book.

“I’ve never been to Japan. I’ve been to California once,” Sarles said.

Nevertheless, the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Arts and Crafts’ class on “The Art of Sushi” Feb. 23 filled the Patch Library conference room to the max — 21 people, besides helpers — with a waiting list the size of another class.  

“People are just crazy for it,” Sarles said. “It’s kind of expensive to eat it on the economy, so it makes sense.”

The $25 fee provided students with all the necessary tools and ingredients: bamboo mats for rolling the sushi; rice; seaweed wrap; and fillings, such as vegetables, smoked salmon and shrimp. No raw fish was used.

 “There’s a misconception about sushi,” Sarles said. “Sushi doesn’t mean ‘raw fish;’ it means ‘vinegar rice.’”

Sarles and her co-instructor, Miyoung Taut, who formerly worked in a Hawaiian sushi restaurant, showed students how to make their own sushi rice. They also demonstrated making several types of sushi rolls, including “inside-out” sushi, which wraps the seaweed and ingredients in rice, and “battleship” sushi, featuring pockets of caviar.

After rolling the ingredients in a seaweed wrap, students cut it into bite-size slices.

Taut also showed students how to pair vegetables and meats of different colors as a filling. “Foods complement each other when they’re different colors,” she said.

For Carol Colwell, a retiree, putting ingredients together wasn’t the challenge; getting the sushi to hold a round shape was.

“This is harder than it looks,” she said, holding up a flattened sushi roll. However, she was soon aided by one of the five class helpers, who showed her how to reshape her sushi using the bamboo mat.

While practicing, Colwell said she looked forward to making more at home. “Now, I can add this to my repertoire,” she said.

Capt. Gracie Hall, another first-timer, was also thankful for the extra guidance.

“You need someone to explain to you with hands-on experience,” she said.

The class was all Hall needed to plan her own sushi night, she added. “I’m on my way to be a master sushi maker.  I’m going to surprise my husband when he comes home from jump school,” she said.

Learning to make sushi at home not only saves money, but is a good way to ensure quality, Sarles said.

“When you do it, you control how fresh it is, and you get to choose your ingredients,” she said.

Students found their favorite ingredients by tasting the sushi during class — with the help of soy sauce and wasabi.

Marine Master Sgt. Joseph Henry found his favorite ingredient quickly: chili paste.

“Spicy is good,” he said. “I’m all about clearing [sinuses].”

Henry has wanted to take the class for two years, but travel assignments have kept him from enrolling until now.

This class could have been his last chance, until Sarles saw how popular it had become.

“I thought this was going to be the last class, but it looks like we’re going to keep going,” Sarles said.

For more information on this class and others offered through Arts and Crafts, call 430-5270/civ. 0711-680-5270.