Our friend Nikos is moving to Tokyo and we wanted to give him a proper send off with an amazing bon voyage party. The best farewell parties center around a theme that celebrates the guest of honor. We suggested a Japanese themed party so that Nikos could say sayonara to his New York friends. He LOVED the idea. The party was even more fabulous because our friend Ashley, a professional chef, taught us how to roll sushi.
The Japanese flag inspired our red and white color palette. Inga of International Garden created our beautiful arrangements with red ginger flowers, white spider mums and green leaves. We incorporated red and white plates and chevron napkins. We scattered bamboo chopsticks with white fortune cookie shaped rests on our tables. We also used burlap tablecloth on the buffet table and a red and white checkered tablecloth on the bar.
Sushi and sashimi are integral parts of Japanese cuisine. The word sushi refers to the vinegared rice on which raw seafood and other ingredients are served. Sashimi consists of thinly sliced raw fish and other seafood, but it does not include rice. Nigiri is a cross between the two and consists of sashimi that is served on a molded rectangle of rice. Our sushi looked like beautiful artwork on our buffet table.
We recommend the following tools to make sushi:
- Rice Cooker: cooks rice consistently each time and doesn’t require you to constant watch or stir – if you don’t have a rice cooker, check out this guide from Mess Makes Food for help selecting one
- Sushi-Grade Knives: you should have a sharp knife to slice the fish, vegetables and sushi rolls Consider using the following knives:
- Chef’s Knife: sharp, curved blade
- Fish Knife: sharp, long slim blade to slice fish and cut sushi rolls
- Vegetable Knife: fine blade for quick peeling, cutting and chopping
- Bamboo Rolling Mat: aids in rolling the sushi into cylinders. We recommend placing plastic wrap on the mat to prevent the rice from sticking to it
- Fryer: use to make tempura and fried ice cream
Ashley and Archana prepared a delicious menu. Making sushi can be time consuming so we rounded out the menu with some prepared Japanese appetizers.
You can purchase most ingredients to make sushi at your local grocery store. For specialty items, such as eel, yellowtail, we recommend swinging by a Japanese grocery store. While you’re there, you can also pick up some Japanese appetizers.
- Rice: Sushi Rice (Jasmine, Basmati or other long-grained varieties are too dry and hard for sushi)
- Nori Seaweed Wrap (We recommend a mix of long and short wraps so you can make rolls with more or less fillings)
- Toasted Sesame Seeds
- Seafood: Tuna, Salmon, Scallops, Soft Shell Crab, Shrimp, Yellowtail
- Vegetables: Cucumber, Avocado
- Condiments: Sriracha, Sriracha Mayonnaise, Pickled Ginger, Wasabi Powder, Unagi Sauce, Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Vinegars: Japanese Rice Vinegar and Japanese Sushi Vinegar
With just a few items, we transformed Archana’s kitchen counter into a sushi bar. We made a large batch of sushi rice earlier in the afternoon and sliced seafood and vegetables before the guests arrived. We set up two sushi rolling stations with bamboo rolling mats, nori, vegetables, seafood and sharp knifes. Guests had a blast rolling sushi, under the supervision of Ashley.
SUSHI TIPS FROM ASHELY AND ARCHANA
- Sushi-grade fish is best (but you can also get wild, fresh fish from FreshDirect or Whole Foods)
- Fill a dipping bowl of water when assembling sushi to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands
- Slice sushi ingredients thinly
- Cover bamboo matt with plastic wrap to prevent rice from sticking to the mat
- Don’t overfill nori sheets
We decided to have a little bit of fun with our desserts rather than sticking to traditional Japanese desserts and flavors. We created a Japanese fruit flag with yogurt covered cranberries, almonds and raisins, macadamia nuts and raspberries. We also served rice krispy sushi with Swedish fish and fruit sushi with coconut sushi rice and raspberries, strawberries and mangoes.
Sake, like sushi, is an important part of the Japanese dining experience. Sake is a delicate yet complex rice wine liquor. The word sake literally translates into alcoholic beverage in Japanese. The clean flavors of most sakes also pair well with nearly any fish preparation. Sake tastes noticeably different when served hot or cold, so ask about the best temperature to serve that particular sake. We believe every party should have a signature cocktail. Our signature drink was the Nikos-tini, which consisted of vodka, sake, lychee juice and a lychee, and served in a martini glass. Guests also sipped on red and white wine.
Karaoke is one of the most popular Japanese pastimes. The word karaoke combines two Japanese words: “Karappo” means empty while “Okesutura” means orchestra. After copious amounts of sake, we finished our evening with Singstar karaoke. SingStar is a competitive music video game for Sony PlayStation. Notable performances included:
- Backstreet Boys: “I Want It That Way”
- Wheatus: “Teenage Dirtbag”
- Billy Joel: “Uptown Girl”
- Fountains of Wayne: “Stacey’s Mom”
Sayonara Nikos and good luck in Tokyo! Special thanks to Ashley for preparing an AMAZING menu and teaching us how to roll sushi. Ashley is a Co-Founder and the Executive Chef at Stateside Hospitality. Her culinary background includes the Rainbow Room and Morimoto. Her new Southern American focused restaurant will be opening in London in the fall.
“If you take action, it will become.” ––Japanese Proverb
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We eat a lot of rice. I wouldn’t mind owning a rice cooker.