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Monday 16 May 2011

London’s Best Cookery Schools – Feng Sushi

Sushi Masterclass with Silla Bjerrum
Recipe for Salmon in White Miso & Sweet Potatoes
WIN Silla’s Simple Japanese Cookbook!

Silla Bjerrum is Danish by birth but has lived in the UK since the early 90s. During her university years in London, when she planned to be an academic, Silla took up a job as a kitchen helper at a friend's Japanese cafe to make ends meet, and fell completely in love with the cuisine.

Five years later and by then a fully trained sushi chef, Silla opened her first Feng Sushi restaurant in Borough Market with co-founder Jeremy Rose in 1999. She travelled to Japan to hone her sushi-making skills, and was the first woman in the UK to be invited to the prestigious 7 Samurai Sushi Competition in 2008. In addition to running her own Feng Sushi School and running her 6 Feng Sushi branches across London, she regularly teaches at Leith's, Divertimenti and Billingsgate's The Seafood Training School.

I have been a great fan of Silla's cooking for years now having used her "Simple Japanese Cookbook" on many occasions, and so I was thrilled to be invited to one of the sushi classes taught by Silla Bjerrum herself.
Over a few hours, Silla taught us how to prepare and roll a variety of different sushi - it was fascinating to see how she made it look so completely effortless to feed a group 6 hungry students while teaching/entertaining us all at the same time. Under Silla's instruction we learnt and rolled some utterly scrumptious sushi including:

Cucumber maki, and avocado maki with pickled ginger;

Crab and avocado inside-out (iso) maki;

Hand-dived scallop iso maki;

Prawn tempura temaki (hand-rolled) and;

Salmon nigiri.

We were also given a demonstration on how to fillet, marinate and cut mackerel sashimi . Silla used a mixture of sea salt, sushi seasoning (rice wine vinegar and mirin) and soya sauce to marinate the mackerel which gave it a firmer texture and agreeably tart flavour.

We also learnt how to cut salmon sashimi from a salmon block or steaks. The salmon had a buttery texture, yet was ultra-light and very delicious.  Silla's secret is to marinate the salmon in sake to tenderise it and slightly cure it.

I was very impressed by Silla's commitment to sustainable fishing and by the quality of the ingredients used - no crabsticks in sight as Feng Sushi bans them in its kitchens opting for real crab meat, line-caught mackerel, sustainable salmon, and hand-dived scallops. Feng Sushi does not sell blue fin tuna and sources its fish and other produce locally whenever possible from green and ethical suppliers.

A sushi-making course at Feng Sushi costs £150 and takes place on a single day for about 4 and a half hours. You will learn about the Japanese ingredients used in the making of sushi and where to source them, how to prepare sushi rice, and roll a variety of maki and nigiri sushi. The course fee includes a sushi making kit, a copy of the Feng Sushi Cookbook, and enough sushi to take home to feed you and a friend. To learn more about Feng Sushi classes click here.

At the end of the class, Silla gave me a copy of her book "Simple Japanese" - this a book I already have and thoroughly enjoy. One of the recipes which I really like and have cooked on a number of occasions is the grilled miso salmon with sweet potato. I have reproduced Silla's recipe below for you to try at home.

Miso and Poppy Seed Salmon with Rustic Sweet Potatoes
(Serves 4)


200g white miso paste
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
400g salmon fillets
2 large sweet potatoes
2 lemons
100ml olive oil
2 tbsp poppy seeds
salt and pepper
100g baby spinach leaves (or your preferred green leaves - rocket, watercress)
extra virgin olive oil for drizzing


1. Place the miso paste, caster sugar, mirin and sake in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir constantly until the ingredients have all melted. Set aside to cool.

2. Cut the salmon into 2cm cubes and place in a plastic or glass container. Pour the cooled miso mixture and marinate in the fridge for 2-3 days.

3. On the day of serving, preheat the oven to 250°C/Gas 9. Cut the sweet potatoes into 2cm cubes and place on a baking tray. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and combine with the olive oil, poppy seeds and some salt and pepper. Pour this dressing over the sweet potatoes then, for extra flavour, add the lemon skins to the baking tray. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.

4. Take the salmon from the fridge and rinse off the marinade (I remove the excess marinade with my hands and then kitchen paper but do not rinse the fish). Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and place the fish on it. When the sweet potatoes have been cooking for 20 minutes, place the tray of fish in the oven, turn it down to 220°C/Gas 7 and continue cooking.

5. Divide the baby spinach or other green leaves among serving bowls. When the potatoes and salmon are cooked, remove from the oven and discard the lemon skins. Gently mix the fish and sweet potatoes together and place on top of the spinach. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve as a main course.

I would like to give this new copy to a reader of The London Foodie so that you can try this recipe for yourself! I would also be interested to hear your feedback on this Japanese cookery book.

For a chance to win a copy of Simple Japanese by Silla Bjerrum, all you need to do is leave a comment with your NAME and E-MAIL address in this post (luizharaAThotmailDOTcom). The winner will be randomly selected  on the 20th May at 7:00pm and his/her name will be published here.

The winner of this competition who was randomly selected by random.org is entrant number 1! Congratulations Kay! I will be in touch to arrange delivery of Silla's cookbook to you.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Wow! So far I have only used Harumi's cookbooks and loved them. Am really intrigued and excited about this cookbook by Silla Bjerrum.

    Name: Kay
    Email: chopstix2steaknives@gmail.com

  3. Oh My! I love Japanese cuisine and all the featured dishes look superb. Thank you for sharing Silla's secret to marinate the salmon in sake. I'll have to try that next time.

    Name: Michael
    Email: michael_toa@yahoo.co.uk

  4. I know what your cook book collection looks like so your recommendation on this one is high praise indeed! missgourmetchick[AT]gmail[DOT]com

  5. I have cooked this and it tastes outstanding!!

  6. Very interesting. When I started making sushi, there were no short courses... so I self taught myself! But might think of doing Feng Sushi class. It's sustainable so thats great federilli[AT]hotmail[DOT]com

  7. This looks fantastic! Love Japanese food. In fact, just made salmon sashimi for dinner today.


  8. I really like the sound of the cookery class, I tried making sushi once and it was a very sad affair (it tasted ok, but it looked rather wonky).
    The cookery book would be a good start!

  9. Luiz can we ever have enough cookbooks?... No!!

    Love the salmon recipe, where can you get white miso paste? So want to try this at the weekend!

    Nuala x


  10. This is definitely fuelling my new-found sushi ambitions. I feel another trip to the Japan Centre coming on already.


  11. Oh I might give this a try! I've been making sushi over a year, just following a few good internet recipes, this course would be great!

    I wouldn't say no to the book either!

    Name: Isabel Nazare
    Email: isabelqn(at)gmail(dot)com

  12. You got me hungry for sashimi, looks amazing! How do you think this class compared to Reiko's Hashi Cooking? swedishmeatballeatslondon@gmail.com

  13. I will now be adding Feng Sushi to my list of restaurants to try this month.

    Name: Jo Lamming
    Email: jo_lamming@talk21.com

  14. We'll definitely be giving Feng Sushi a try on one of our #FoodieTuesday outings - it's the countless pictures that swung it for us!

    Name: Dana
    Email: danah@johnsonking.co.uk

  15. That recipe you shared looks amazing. Am going to try it. Would love to increase my sushi repertoire too as so far I have only managed to make some simple maki rolls at home. Her combinations look really interesting.

  16. Feng sushi is just around the corner from my place, I think I should give it a try after reading your post! Love Japanese food! Do you have any good recommendations for japanese places in London?


  17. Ooh. Your photos look wnderful. heligirlk at yahoo dot com.

  18. This recipe looks absolutely delicious! I love fish so will have to have a go at making this, thanks to posting.

  19. My children love Miso and Poppy Seed Salmon with Rustic Sweet Potatoes. Thanks for recipe.

    Best love,xxx


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