Learning Exchange
1111 Howe Ave, Suite 115. (916) 929-9200

It's strange how certain memories remain crystal clear in your mind, even decades later. I remember when I was a kid, there was one time that my mom made a bunch of sushi for the ladies at her Buddhist temple. I remember sitting at the table, leaning over on my elbows watching her as she rapidly fanned her rice which was in a large hangiri. I remember inhaling deeply and savoring the wafts of rice vinegar emanating from the sushi rice. I remember it like it was yesterday. So when the Learning Exchange (LEX) contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in taking a cooking class there, I decided that the sushi class might be a fun choice. I wasn't sure what to expect and to be quite honest, even though I'm a pretty outgoing person I was a wee bit nervous.

I got to class a bit early and was surprised to find that the classroom was already almost full.  The instructor, Laura Thorne, greeted me and asked me to check in, wash my hands and fill my water bowl. Right on the dot, she started with her introduction. Laura has been in the sushi business (making and teaching it) for thirteen years and is the proprietor of Way Yum Sushi in Nevada City, a sushi catering company that provides custom sushi boats and sushi bars to a lot of Sacramento's premiere events. She has an easy going manner and peppers her instructions with hilarious anecdotes. I liked the fact that she explained the sushi terminology as she went so that the newbies could follow. Her mission statement was that before we left the class we would:

1. Have fun.
2. Know how to make sushi at home.

Can't ask for more than that, right? Now let me interject here...I'll confess, I figured she'd probably teach us how to make a few rolls and call it a day. Color me wrong, wrong, wrong! We learned SEVEN different types of techniques in two hours. We did learn how to make the "standard" sushi roll of course but she also showed us how to put together the inside-out rolls (the rice is on the outside), temakis (the cone shaped roll), 3 types of nigiri, inari (the ones that look like little footballs), rainbow rolls (inside out with aesthetically arranged toppings) and a cucumber bite (a thickly sliced cucumber piece that's been hollowed out, filled with Kanikama (faux crab) mix and topped with a sweet soy sauce. She provided numerous helpful tips, tricks and being a big proponent of using organic and fresh products she recommended local places to buy items and what brands she found to be the best quality. The tuna and eel she had us use in the nigiri was of very high grade which surprised me. We also learned how to make sushi rice and the various sauces that are trendy in the sushi bars now.

Now if you're like me, you're probably thinking a community cooking class? It's going to be full of blue haired grannies or bored housewives. Wrong again! Our class had a nice mix of young/old, male/female and singles/couples. Everyone was super friendly and eager to learn. I ended up chatting with my table buddy Bruce and opened up the world of Oto's to him, he had never been there and had no idea there was a Japanese grocery store in Sac! I felt like a fairy godmother cluing him in. The class turned out to not only be a great learning experience for me but a fun social activity as well. Several students commented that once they perfected their sushi making skills they had plans to throw a sushi-making party. Having gone to one of those before, I can attest to the fact they they are a blast!

Now, in these budget-conscious times I'm sure you're thinking, "It's a little pricey." It's actually not. If you factor the massive amount of sushi we made (which you can eat as you go along or take home your creations with you in a to-go container), it's a bargain. Even my giant sushi gullet couldn't come close to eating everything we got to make. It's seriously cheaper than going out to eat at a sushi-ya. Plus if you bring a friend or significant other, it's a meal and a fun evening out! The Learning Exchange offers a wide variety of cooking class (located at the LEX, the Steel Magnolia Commercial Kitchen and the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts). Now that I've realized how easy it is to sign up and fun it can be, I'm thinking of taking Mr. S. to the empanadas class or the olive curing class or the knives class...aack, so many choices! So if you're looking for something fun and interesting to do or you're trying to fulfill that New Year's resolution of branching out and learning something new, I highly recommend checking out the Learning Exchange. Maybe I'll see you there!

Here's a few pictures that the instructor snapped with my camera when we first started as my hands were covered with sticky rice. She only took one sushi photo and it was fuzzy so I didn't post it, but at least you can see what the class is like.

 The instructor, Laura Thorne, introducing herself.
 Your table set-up. The instructor comes around with the fish. (You get to take home your rolling mat.)

1 Response
  1. Foodiewife Says:

    I'm sorry that I missed this post, earlier. I've been MIA with a cold. What a great class! If I lived closer, I would love to have come. We need more classes like this. Great photos!

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