Prequel to Sushi

I still have, until this very day, memories of being a chubby little toddler, who would gobble up anything that was food.

Louise Mabulo as a kid among friends, growing up in the UK

Yours truly, as a kid among friends, growing up in the UK

My mum, one day brought me along with her and the family to a Japanese eat-all-you-can restaurant. You could just imagine, for the baby me, how I would look over my mum’s shoulder, my eyes would widen and I would drool, as I passed rows of tables, stacked up with colourful sushi and sashimi, all ready to devour. Of course, my mum was hesitant to feed me raw fish, since I was obviously too young to try such foods, I was just 4.

To her and to everyone’s surprise, I enthusiastically ate sushi and anything I could put my hands on, which was more sushi. Since then, almost every day, first thing in the morning, I would wake up and look forward to eating more sushi. I would vigorously chant sushi like my life depended on it, until I was given a heaping plate of it, and then my mouth would be too full to chant anything at all. The staff of that restaurant loved me, since I was the little girl who would come in every morning like they were a toy-store.

Many, many, many years later, here I was, twelve years old, my love for sushi and sashimi still unwavering. I joined in Junior MasterChef, and I was faced with yet another one of the many challenges ready to be hurled at me. It was the second challenge I had. The judges announced, it was called the ‘pork and fruit’ challenge. As the name proclaims, each of us were to make a dish that involved both pork and some fruits. Of course, in under an hour, I was lost.

One thing though, emerged from my memory, which was my dad, on a summer’s day making an adobo-like barbeque sauce, throwing in a slab of pork and apple slices, and cooking it until it was a delicious sticky mess. So I stuck to that. In under an hour, I knew the recipe would never be finished, and Instead of a giant slab of pork I grabbed bacon slices. I cooked it up into an adobo sauce, and grabbed a bunch of fruits, which would complement the dish, pureed them, juiced them and sliced them and chucked it all into the sauce. So far all was going well.

With plenty of time left on my hands, I knew that there was still room for improvement. With my mind reeling and searching, I realized why not turn it into a Filipino sushi? After all, bacon strips are super thin and wouldn’t look appetizing on the plate. After some taste testing, I was able to come up with my final result, just literally in the nick of time. Right as the countdown started, I was just getting all my components on the plate and as time ran out, I gave the 4 year old me a high five.  One of our judges, was so impressed by the dish, he offered to serve it at one of his restaurants!

Louise Mabulo, 14, on Junior Master Chef

Funny enough, after the show had been aired, I’d seen people use the exact same recipe and others claim it as their own. Although I was incredulous seeing this, I still believe that imitation is the best form of flattery, and it makes me glad to see that something I’d made myself, is now gaining its own popularity all around. I shared this recipe so that everyone could give it a try and have their own Junior MasterChef experience at home. Enjoy!

Please click here for that Pinoy sushi recipe.

Filipino sushi by Chef Louise Mabulo

Filipino sushi by Teen Master Chef Louise Mabulo

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