Local chef Shota Nakajima took part in an initiative by the Japanese government to make its native cuisine a household staple in Seattle on January 24, 2016. • Photo by Samuel J. Williams
Katsutoshi Honma helps out at an event by the Japanese government to make its native cuisine a household staple in Seattle on January 24, 2016. • Photo by Samuel J. Williams

The following is an announcement by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan for the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle:

Armed with seaweed, fresh fish, and an adventurous spirit, 65 Seattleites learned to make hand-rolled sushi with local chef Shota Nakajima Sunday, January 24 as part of an initiative by the Japanese government to make its native cuisine a household staple here.

“We want to change the perception of Japanese cuisine, expanding it beyond a special dining-out experience and bringing it into the home as an option for weekday dinners,” said Naoki Hayasaka of the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan hosted the event with the consulate.

“Here in Seattle, you have a well-developed palate and access to some of the best seafood in the world—we’re just helping with the skills and the confidence,” Hayasaka said.

Based on interest in the event, Seattle residents are ready for both. An at-capacity crowd gathered at Pike Place Market and watched as Nakajima, owner and chef of Capitol Hill’s NAKA restaurant, demonstrated how to prepare hand-rolled sushi and discussed the culinary philosophy of ‘Washoku,’ which involves preparing food to provide both nutritional balance and aesthetic harmony. The chef, who grew up in Seattle but traveled to Japan to train for five years, said the event’s appeal rested in making sushi accessible.

“For many people who love sushi, its history and preparation still remains a mystery. I love the idea of showing people how easy it can be to adopt authentic Japanese food as their own,” said Nakajima. “Folks don’t realize how simple hand-rolled sushi can be. All you need is a couple of key ingredients like sushi rice, sheets of roasted seaweed, and whatever else your heart and stomach desires.”

While tricky for some at first, participants got the hang of forming the cone-shaped hand-rolled sushi enveloped in seaweed, not to be confused with what many consider standard California roll-type sushi with rice around the outside.

“We eat a decent amount of Japanese food and go out for sushi a lot. I saw this event advertised and figured why not come and learn how to make sushi ourselves,” said Sara Loeffler, one of the event attendees. “It was a great event and delicious! It all makes me want to buy the ingredients and supplies and make it all at home.”

After the event, some stopped by Pike Place Market’s fresh seafood stalls to stock up on sushi ingredients and bring their skills as well as some fresh flavors home with them.

While this event is the first of its kind in Seattle, it is part of an international series hosted by the Japanese ministry. This year, residents of Canada, Denmark, Malaysia and Spain also learned to make hand-rolled sushi. Organizers plan to hold another interactive tutorial in Seattle this fall.

To learn more about the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan or the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle and learn about future events, visit http://www.maff.go.jp/e/ or http://www.seattle.us.emb-japan.go.jp.

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