Kibworth & Smeeton WI – May 2024

Japanese Sushi Making

Our April speaker, Yuko Dixon, entertained us with an interesting and enjoyable evening of Japanese food. She began by telling us a little about her background. She lived in the USA before moving to the UK about 18 years ago. She set up her “own little world”, as she put it, with a background in marketing helping her to establish her business. As well as giving talks and demonstrations to groups such as ours, Yuko goes to people’s homes to cater for parties and special occasions. She also teaches the art of preparing Japanese food to small groups.

During the demonstration, Yuko explained that Japan is a larger country than many people realise and would stretch from Aberdeen to Morocco. There are therefore sizeable differences in temperatures and climate from north to south, with the seasons producing a wide variety of fresh foods. Seasonality and freshness are important in Japan. There are four currents in the oceans surrounding the country, two very cold and two warm – with temperatures ranging from Siberian to tropical – and an astonishing 180 different fish can be found through the year!

Japanese children learn from as early as four years old the properties of food – such as proteins, minerals, vitamins and fats – and are taught about the importance of a balanced diet.

Yuko showed us how she had prepared for the evening, cooking the sushi rice, which was then cooled down. She seasoned it with rice vinegar, salt and a little sugar. The rice needs to be quite dry, not too sticky, so the vinegar is added very carefully. She cooled the rice in a shallow, round, light wooden box, which absorbs excess water.

Sushi making - Kibworth & Smeeton WI

Yuko asked for two members to help her to demonstrate how to make sushi. Gail Holland and Judy Ravenhill gamely volunteered and were soon set to work, using a flat bamboo mat as their surface and a finger bowl of warm water and a cloth, as things can get messy! Onto a seaweed base they carefully spread a good layer of sushi rice right to the edges, without squashing it. They then added from a choice of finely sliced pickled vegetables, cucumber, spring onion and carrot. Tiny fish eggs spread over the rice could provide colour, as could raw fresh salmon, which Yuko cures for an hour. Then came the fun bit!

This meant carefully rolling up the sushi, using the bamboo mat in the same way you would use a clean tea towel to create a Swiss roll. The art is to roll firmly, not too tightly, to avoid the filling oozing out! Finally, the ladies used a very sharp knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut the sushi cylinder into rounds. The concentration on the ladies’ faces was a joy to behold! We were all invited to sample the sushi, with a vegetarian option available. The verdict? It was delicious! We all enjoyed the evening – and Yuko’s gentle humour.

Crafty Ladies

Our crafty ladies are putting the finishing touches to our summer yarn bombing, which, weather permitting, will be installed at the library on 17 June.

We are also working on a new project: a remembrance poppy display for Christ Church, Smeeton Westerby. If any ladies from the village would like to join us in knitting or crocheting poppies, then please get in touch with me on the number below.

We look forward to an evening with Angela Dewes, who will give us a talk called “From Fleece to Finish” on Thursday 13 June at 7.30pm at KCH.

Pat Sharman