The art of sushi

Brian WilkinsonMarch 27, 2013 

A taste of Japan came to Yosemite High School March 12 -- Literally -- When Tenaya Lodge's Executive Chef Frederick Clabaugh and Director of Food & Beverage Sean Mangold, visited Dena Boortz' culinary arts class to instruct 22 students in the art of making sushi.

Clabaugh and Mangold did not come empty-handed. They brought a fresh 15-pound salmon, two varieties of tuna (yellow fin and ahi), crab meat, shrimp and a little eel and octopus. They also brought Nori (seaweed), wasabi, soy sauce, avocados, white rice, sushi rice vinegar, cucumbers, toasted sesame seeds, and of course, chop sticks.

"We are always excited to participate at Yosemite High School," Mangold said. "The students are eager to learn, as well as eat the great food that they prepare."

Clabaugh said the fish used for the sushi came from Sierra Seafood in Oakhurst, who has been suppling fresh fish to Tenaya for more than 18 years.

"Joe Sweat at Sierra Seafood has been a great partner in obtaining Monterey Bay Aquarium approved seafood through the seafood watch program," Clabaugh said.

Although there are many varieties of sushi, the ingredient that all sushi have in common is vinigered white rice called sushi-meshi.

The original sushi, created by Hanaya Yohei (1799 - 1858) and known as "Edomae" sushi because it used fish caught from Edo Bay in Tokyo, was first made in Southeast Asia along the MeKong River.

The main sushi ingredients, rice and raw fish, are naturally low in fat, high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits.

After de-boning the salmon and slicing the tuna, the students made a variety of sushi rolls including Kappa Maki Roll (cucumber) and Tekka Maki Roll (tuna), along with individual sushi pieces including Tako Nigiri (octopus) and Ebi Nigiri (shrimp).

The students also made a tempura batter for the fried California roll made with sushi rice, seaweed, crab meat, cucumber sticks and sliced avocado.

Boortz said the Fresno Regional Occupational Program (ROP) is career-technical education that empowers students to make meaningful career choices by providing opportunities to explore their interests, develop career skills and reinforces academics.

The YHS Culinary Arts class is one of eight Regional Occupational Program classes available to juniors and seniors. Other hands-on classes in the program include arc welding, auto systems technology, careers in education, construction technology, multimedia communication design, performing arts and veterinary science. The classes are administered under the Fresno County Office of Education.

"This is the fourth year that our ROP Culinary Arts and Hospitality class has had a partnership with Tenaya Lodge and Sean Mangold has been a significant partner in the success of the program," Boortz said. "It has been extremely beneficial to be able to have chefs from Tenaya visit Yosemite High to demonstrate and allow students to practice knife skills, garnishing techniques, cake decorating, fish preparation and sushi making."

Senior Daphne Norman said she loves suhsi and was excited when she heard the class was going to learn how to make it.

"It was surprisingly easy to make and it was fun to make the sushi look so appealing," Norman said.

Senior Grady Eaton signed-up for the Culinary Arts class because he's always liked to cook and wanted to learn some more of the advanced techniques of cooking.

"I eat sushi all the time and it was a fun experience to learn how to make it," Eaton said.

Tenaya Lodge invites the YHS culinary class to visit the lodge a few times each year to participate in special events such as assisting with the baking and construction of hundreds of gingerbread houses during Christmas. The students get the opportunity to work side-by-side with professional cooks and chefs in learning food production techniques and fine dining service techniques."

Clabaugh and Mangold have employed many of the students coming out of the YHS program.

"The students that we hire come to our kitchen with a passion for the culinary arts and a desire to make the love of food a profession," Clabaugh said. "Mrs. Boortz is an excellent instructor, and allows her students to be very hands on in the class. This really helps prepare the students for the work that they will do in a restaurant."

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