Not everyone from Japan makes sushi and ramen on professional levels

By Junna Miyazaki | Reporter

“Where are you from?” people ask me, and a third of them ask me, “Can you make sushi and ramen?” I was surprised when I first came to Baylor because I had never been asked this question in Japan.

Personally, the word “sushi” reminds me of Nigiri, which is “a small rice ball with fish, shellfish, etc. on the top. Some of the most common ones are tuna, shrimp, eel, squid, octopus and fried egg.” While I’m reminded of it, I haven’t quite mastered making it yet.

When I looked up “How to make sushi,” in English, I found hand-rolled sushi, which I think many people in Waco are more familiar with. I can make hand-rolled sushi, which is a cone made of nori seaweed and filled with sushi rice, seafood and vegetables.

However, in both versions of sushi, the rice is the key element. In Japan, sushi chefs must train for years to learn how to cook the rice properly before handling any other ingredients.

I used to make hand-rolled sushi in Japan during the Japanese holiday “Setsubun.” On this day, there’s a unique tradition where everyone involved must eat an Ehomaki, a thick sushi roll, whole in silence. It’s said that eating the roll will bring good luck in the new year. This holiday is in place for the tradition of driving away demons and welcoming Lunar New Year.

Next time I’m asked, “Can you make sushi,” I could answer, “Which type of sushi do you mean?” If they mean hand-rolled sushi, I can proudly say, “Yes, I can make sushi.”

However, “ramen” is a different situation. “Ramen” means “restaurant-style ramen” or “homemade ramen.” I can make homemade ramen, which is made of instant noodles, broth, meat and vegetables.

Great ramen from restaurants in Japan make ramen noodles from scratch. Many Japanese restaurants have chefs who only focus on ramen and dishes that include it. One chef in particular, Yoshishisa Takashima, has had over 20 years of experience and even went to Yamato Ramen School to build his creativity and skill with the noodle. He believes that it all starts with “freshly made noodles and a homemade broth.”

Making ramen and sushi are elaborate skills. Professionals pay particular attention to them. I believe I shouldn’t say I can make ramen and sushi easily, but at Baylor, I could say “I can make sushi and ramen” with my basic skill level.

In Waco, people can’t access authentic Japanese food, and they are not particular about it. I would like to entertain them with authentic hand-rolled sushi one day.