Cookery school review: Rick Stein’s Cookery School
The course: Japanese Seafood (one day), £198 including food and wine, with leftovers to take home
Where: Rick Stein’s Cookery School, Padstow
What it’s like
Mark Puckey, our teacher for the day, poked his head around the door 10 minutes after the class was scheduled to start with a look of relief on his face. The delivery of seafood, straight off the boat, had arrived and we could get started. Fully caffeinated and having admired the views across the River Camel, my six fellow students and I were raring to go.
The classroom is modern with state-ofthe-art equipment, spacious workstations and cameras over the demo area. The quality of the fish and shellfish we used during the course was outstanding – the ingredients were literally fresh off the boat.
What I learned
The focus was on cooking Japanese-style fish and shellfish dishes: sushi, sashimi, tempura and fishcakes. We started the day by learning how to fillet mackerel (for fishcakes) before perfecting the prep of squid and prawns for the tempura. Mark’s demonstrations were thorough and relatively speedy but there was ample time for students to ask questions, which were welcomed and answered expertly.
Mark also shared his tips for picking and buying the best seafood. When we were back at our workstations, concentrating hard on replicating the gutting and filleting that Mark made look so effortless, the team assisting Mark were on hand to help us.
Most ingredients were ready-weighed but I appreciated being able to choose which fish I wanted to use to make my nigiri sushi (fingers of rice with pieces of fish on top) and sashimi (elegant slices of raw fish). We were able to take home any fish that wasn’t eaten on the day, and we were given bulging recipe folders.
The day was full-on and we packed in a lot of cooking (and eating). Prior experience isn’t necessary although I felt comfortable with the pace of the course, having had some experience with preparing seafood. It’s not a comprehensive course in Japanese seafood cookery but I left feeling confident about replicating the techniques and flavours at home.
The course is an excellent way to get lots of practical, guided experience with a wide variety of seafood, and there’s nothing quite like sitting by Padstow Harbour afterwards, taking in the salty sea air and snacking on leftover sushi. Bliss.
All images David Griffen