To constantly learn is to constantly evolve into something higher, stronger and better. In my own quest of learning new, wondrous things about food, I have resorted to the online world most of the times. But sometimes, you need that hand holding especially when it comes to learning a new cuisine. Japanese has been and will be my most favourite cuisine outside of Indian cuisine ( ofcourse!). Few weeks back, I was invited to a ‘Maki ‘ assembling demo at Meisei which I gladly accepted because I wasn’t going to pass up such a wonderful opportunity to learn how to make Maki from an experienced Chef such as Chef Micheal Sang -Kyu Lee.
Meisei in Adliya, opened in early 2013 and offers its diners a combination of gourmet Asian flavours and an elegant surrounding to enjoy them. The diverse Japanese-Korean-Chinese fusion menu is prepared by top chefs to create an exceptional dining experience, with dishes that offer an interpretation of modern Asian cuisine that can be enjoyed across cultures. When I reached Meisei on a boiling Wednesday afternoon, I was too exhausted from the heat. But the cool interiors and the smiling staff put me in a good mood instantly. They were just about to begin the demo and I realized I had the company of 5 other ladies who looked very eager to learn.
Chef Micheal has a sense of humour that put us all in great mood. I wasn’t overly intimidated to learn how to roll the Maki but his easy -going manner definitely helped enjoy the task more. I observed that we had a table with prepared ingredients in front of us and all we had to do is to assemble the Maki. That was so simple!
Japanese is a cuisine of refined, subtle and balanced flavours. Other than the Wasabi’s pungent, powerful attack on the senses, nothing else really screams for attention. It is almost like sitting in meditation and enjoying ‘being in the moment‘.
The demo began with Chef Micheal explaining to us about the important elements of Maki – making:
1. The balance of flavours is key
2. Prepare in advance – chop the vegetables/ fruits/ fish/ into julienne and ready to use
3. It is the rice that lends all the real flavour to the Maki ( The cooking of the rice wasn’t included in the demo. It was provided to us, ready to use)
4. Finally, the most important element is to be gentle and subtle with your fingers. (Chef Micheal had an funny trivia to share about his own Maki making experience where he said it makes his wife very jealous when she watches her Chef husband handling the Maki with such tender care and love). So that is how nimble -fingered one has to be while attempting to learning this art of great finesse.
We tried creating two types of Maki –
1. The hand roll – which is the regular Maki has the Nori( seaweed paper) on the outside and the rice and the filling vegetables/fish inside
2. Uramaki – (the inside out roll) – This is the type of Maki with the rice on the outside and Nori ( seaweed paper) and the filling of avocados/cucumber/ cooked white fish on the inside
I followed Chef Micheal’s instructions very carefully and tried to emulate his actions but obviously as a first timer, my Maki was not the best. But I enjoyed working with my hands.
Making Maki is like craft.
But like all craft, Maki demands its share of practice and intuition.
Chef Micheal has collected in his culinary repertoire, a world of experience ( literally). His Maki flavours are reminiscent of the different cultures and of different nations that he has worked in. All the flavours play together so well that, not only does the Maki look like ‘work of art’ but also indulges the tastes buds, making it quite addictive. My own amateurish attempt tasted wonderful with all the flavour notes in place to enjoy after an hour of rolling and assembling.
From the picture above it is quite evident that even while you roll your Maki well, cutting on it into pieces is actually quite tough. However careful you are, the knife slips and the Maki roll gets squeezed. That is when I take home a lesson; it is the simple looking things in life that demand so much attention and care. And if we give that love and tenderness, it cannot help but blossom.
All in all, it was great experience learning how to assemble the Maki under the tutelage of Chef Micheal and also interacting with the other ladies at the demo. Since I am the only Maki lover in the family, I doubt I am going to practice this at home. If you are interested in learning how to make beautiful Maki, you ought to immediately enroll after Ramadan at Meisei.
Meisei Address: Building 951, Road 3830, Block 338, Adliya
Phone number: 1700 7770
Social Media: @MeiseiBahrain