I realize the combination of words sounds frightening and out of this world. Extraterrestrial. Heck I barely go out for a tortilla española in Lasarte. But if you mention sushi in the Martín Berasatégui kitchen, ears perk, heads turn and stomachs grumble. Conversation follows and eventually, if you’re a sushi aficionado like someone I know very well, who has gone without sushi for two months because good sushi is difficult to come by in País Vasco and anything below the high bar you’ve set is inedible waste, you find yourself setting aside all other responsibilities [that should take priority over sushi-making] and instead, cutting salmon, rolling maki and torching ika (squid) for a group of hungry Spanish sushivores.
So the real attraction for me was to cook with my korean Unni (sister) Hyun. This is her last week before she goes back to Mallorca. Rarely do you find someone that shares such similar tastes in food, culture and humor. Since my first day in pescado to the week we spent in Pastelería together to the sushi we made here, Hyun has been a teacher, a mentor and a best friend. Intelligent, humble, hard-working and incredibly perceptive, Hyun is easily the top stage in the kitchen, if there was such a title.
Always putting others before herself, Hyun wanted to return a favor and make sushi for our FOH (front of the house) manager, Felipe and his flatmates. One of them happened to be our former tío en pescado, Paco. We recruited the curious, young Paquito to help with sushi preparations. Cooking with Paco reminded me of how pleasant it is to work with someone inquisitive, willing to learn, and ready to listen. Too often does machísmo in the kitchen shroud these twinkling young stars.
Paco y Hyun
Meanwhile, Felipe took care of his pets, a Squirrel Glider, who he cooed at and coddled, and [not pictured] a serpiente [aptly named ‘Serpiente’] :
And the talented José provided the entertainment.
Montón de Sushi
Next time we will procure fish [and sake] from our restaurant suppliers beforehand. But for an impromptu night of nigiri and maki-making, I think we made out just fine, sí o no? It was good enough to be the subject of their bragging the next day at work. I’m happy we could provide our tíos, who rarely get the opportunity to eat sushi, with sushi that was ‘out of this [Basque] world!’