Top Japanese chefs put as much importance on the beautiful presentation of food as they do on excellent flavours and textures.
Beautifully displayed maki, nigiri and sashimi are carefully prepared to look mouth watering and often presented on ornate serving dishes in the shape of boats, bridges or even on people.
But, of course, the Japanese have taken their dedication a step further creating sushi rolls that are carefully constructed to be nothing short of works of art when they are sliced up. Pandas, animals, dragonflies and flowers are among some of the stunning designs you can create in the middle of your sushi.
It’s not just the sushi either. I have been to restaurants where the wasabi has been crafted into an ornate green dragon, designed down to the last scale. You almost feel guilty disturbing and eating something so beautiful that has been crafted with such love.
The undisputed master of sushi art is Japanese chef Ken Kawasumi who has written several books on how to transform a simple maki roll into a jaw dropping visual masterpiece. Kawusami has more then 30 years experience of making sushi and is the head of the prestigious Tokyo Sushi Academy. He divides his time between training students at the Academy and travelling the world to demonstrate his artistic sushi skills, known as kazari maki-zushi.
Among his masterpieces are a recreation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with sushi and a platter of sushi rolls based on US President Barack Obama. The Platter featured a sushi replica of Obama’s face - his skin was made from amis (small shrimp), his hair made from black sesame and fish paste made the teeth for a dazzling smile. The platter also featured an American flag made with red tuna and raw squid for the famous stripes.
Making artistic sushi does require a bit of patience and skill but there are lots of books and online videos to talk you through step by step and it is the ultimate way to impress dinner guests with your culinary skills.
If you don’t feel up to making it yourself I can recommend having a look online at some of the amazing designs that people have managed to create with rice, seaweed and fish. You never know, it might inspire you to have a go yourself.