Cooking collaboration with private sushi chef Nick Rush Butler and photographer Marika Andrews
Like dancing, cooking has specific techniques that enable each style of cuisine to shine in its own way. In the dance world, we call that process the “characterization of a dance”... i.e, “what sets it apart from other dances."
When we think of the Tango many of us think of, "intensity", "seduction", “cat and mouse”, etc... These specific characteristics and expectations help the dancer fulfill the required movement-based techniques needed to execute the dance at a high level. But, these techniques also allow the audience to have their expectations met with a level of high satisfaction.
When we think of sushi, many of us think of fish. For plant-based diners, this option feels limiting. Is there a place for the plant-based diet in a sushi restaurant?
What if there was a way to keep the characterization of the food the same while making adjustments for all eaters? Is there a way to satisfy the expectations of the cook and the "audience", while still appropriately characterizing the cuisine? We said yes.
In the second half of my cooking collaboration with private sushi chef Nick Butler, he taught me the techniques required to create Nigiri.
Nigiri, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a small "loaf-shaped“ mound of typically vinegar seasoned rice, covered most often with raw fish, and held together with a strip or band of seaweed.
It is simple in presentation, but incredibly complex in flavor.
Nick suggested that I grill some Japanese eggplant and he would teach me to create eggplant nigiri from it.
I have to say, I felt a flicker of intimidation and something like "nerves", when we first started to create the little mounds of rice. Could I learn the specific hand techniques (flipping, patting, turning, smoothing), required to show the character of this food? Would I be able to fulfilled the expectations we all had for this single delicious bite?
It seemed so...
Technique is important. You can have raw talent and ability, but technique will always push the product (whether it's a dance routine or a recipe), to the next level. Technique is also limitless. As each new generation of dancers and chefs learn the techniques required to execute their desired craft at a superior level... So to, the dance or the food is elevated again by challenging what is, and asking it to become more.
I learned a lot from this collaboration... About myself, about cooking, about connection through food and its similarity to dance. But, mostly I was reminded to pay close attention to stories that live inside of each recipe, and to learn the techniques required to bring that story to life.
Link for Marika: