“Sushi chefs are basically professional rice makers in my humble opinion,” says chef Kate Koo — the chef behind Zilla Sake in Portland, Oregon. “It’s a never-ending quest which is something that I love about sushi; it’s the unattainable perfection, it is the mountain that you never get to the top of.”
Koo is Korean-born, but was adopted by American parents and spent almost all of her life in Oregon; except for the years spent in Hawaiʻi going to school and working for a fish importer. “It was really valuable to see the other end of what I do [now],” Koo remembers about working for a Hawaiian importer.
Still, Koo firmly believes that the fish is not the most important ingredient when it comes to sushi making; that would be the rice. “For me rice is the heart of the sushi,” she says. “It’s something that connects sushi through history.”