Monday, 16 December 2013

Meeting sushi master Hisashi Kumagai

Last month I went to Galway to spend time with Hisashi Kumagai (Kuma) who is the head chef of sushi restaurant "Raw Sushi in the Sky". It's located on the 4th floor of the Radisson Hotel in Galway city with amazing views of Galway Bay.

Kuma kindly let me spend the day with him in his kitchen to learn about the art of sushi making from a professional chef's perspective. Kuma has worked in restaurants all over the world in countries including Japan, Austria, Canada, America and Ireland for over 35 years. 
Although I only spent one day with him I learned so much in that short space of time. While we were prepping the food for that night's bookings we chatted about Japanese food and culture and how one can't be separated from the other. We talked about sourcing ingredients in Ireland for Japanese dishes. I had lots of questions for him throughout the day and he was very patient answering them all.

At the end of the day, my family and I sat down to enjoy Kuma's sushi with miso soup and a really cold Japanese beer! If you're looking for a place to eat sushi in the Galway area I would highly recommend it. You'll see Kuma at the sushi counter freshly rolling your sushi as you order it.  

People often ask me about raw fish on my blog and at my cooking classes. So I had to include this as a point to talk about with Kuma. I've listed some important points below to remember when buying, preparing and eating raw fish. Kuma serves salmon, tuna, seabass, seabream, swordfish and halibut as sashimi in the restaurant.

Buying fish suitable to eat raw as sashimi:
- Try to buy from a reputable fish monger and call them in advance so they can pre-order fish that can be eaten raw or tell you in advance if they have any in store
- Be aware that staff in some shops may not be trained to advise what fish can be eaten raw and therefore in some cases can tell you it's ok when they don't really know!
- Find out as much as you can about the fish you're going to eat raw i.e. where the fish came from, when it was caught and how old is it now
- If in doubt, use a few simple checks to make sure the fish is really fresh i.e. the fish should smell pleasant and not foul, the fish skin should be shiny and the fish eyes bright 

Preparing raw fish:
-  If you are concerned about eating fish raw then you should freeze it as this will get rid of any harmful bacteria etc
- Kuma told me that all restaurants are required to freeze fish for at least 24 hours and then defrost before serving to customers to eat raw in order to meet EU regulations
- Use a very sharp knife to cut the fish

Eating raw fish
- Serve with soy sauce and wasabi
- A Japanese vegetable called daikon goes really well with sashimi as it helps to cleanse your palate

Raw Sushi in the Sky also provide a local sushi take-away service.

Raw Sushi in the Sky contact details

Notes: I was not asked by the Radisson Hotel or Raw Sushi in the Sky to write this post. I wrote it because I wanted to share my experience with you.

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