Project Food Blog

Simple Sushi

Sushi - cold boiled rice moistened with rice vinegar, usually shaped into bite-size pieces and topped with raw seafood (nigiri-sushi) or formed into a long seaweed-wrapped roll, often around strips of vegetable or raw fish, and sliced into bite-size pieces (maki-sushi).

In order to make sushi at home, you will need a few items for the preparation. If you live in a large enough city, you may be lucky enough to find some of these items at the local grocery store. For the more difficult to find items, you may need to go to a store specialising in Asian foods. A basic list is as follows:
A bamboo rolling mat (Makisu)
Cutting board
A sharp knife
A wooden spoon or spatula
A large wooden or glass bowl
Sushi rice, we use the "Blue Dragon" Sushi Rice, available in 500g packs in the UK from supermarkets such as Waitrose.  
Rice vinegar
Nori Seaweed or soybean paper (for rolls)
Wasabi (Japanese horseradish mustard)
Gari (pickled, thinly sliced ginger)
Fish, seafood, and /or vegetables as desired, depending upon what type of sushi you plan to make
Soy sauce

Preparing the Sushi Rice

First, put the rice in a sieve, and keep rinsing it under cold water until it runs clear.
Cook the rice is in a heavy bottom pan with a well fitting lid on the stove top.
My rule of thumb is to use one and a half cups of water to one cup of dry rice, so measure your rice before you rinse it!
Put the rice and water into the pan,  bring to the boil, stirring gently then turn the heat right down to the lowest possible simmer, put the lid on and leave it, don't be tempted to lift the lid as the trapped steam is what is doing a lot of the work of cooking the rice. Simmer for exactly 10 minutes.
Then, keeping the lid firmly in place, turn-off the heat and leave to stand for a further 10 minutes.
Once you've done this, mix the rice with some sushi-su to the point that it tastes to your liking, then very gently lay the rice out on a flat clean surface (maybe on a sheet of tin foil).
Using chopsticks or a fork fluff the rice so it has an "open" texture so air can flow trough the grains, then fan the rice with a board or sheet of card to give a glossy finish to the rice. Fan for about 5 minutes.
If you do all this you will have the perfect sushi rice!
Next thinly slice your fish (salmon, eel  (unagi), tuna, yellowtail, red snapper etc.) into slices of about 17mm x 45mm x 2mm thick.
Once you have all your fish and rice ready, you can start making the Nigiris. First have a bowl of water with a liberal amount of rice vinegar in it so you can dampen your hands when you need to.  If you want to, you can add a small piece of wasabi to each nigiri...
Then lay the fish over the top of the rice, gently shaping it over the top of the rice.
Serve at room temperature. NEVER SERVE SUSHI STRAIGHT FROM THE REFRIGERATOR as it destroys the texture and flavour.

Et voila.. Nigiri Sushi!!... Enjoy!!

For Maki Sushi, place a bamboo sushi mat on a clean work surface, rough-side up. Place the nori on the mat horizontally, rough-side up.

Spread the sushi rice over the nori sheet to cover evenly, leaving a 1½ cm margin on the side furthest from you. Spread the rice to smooth the surface, but do not press it down too hard. Spread a little wasabi paste, to taste, across the rice.

Prepare  the fillings in separate bowls and spread/ arrange horizontally in a row along the centre – eg make one section with salmon and red pepper and the other with tuna mayonnaise and shiso leaves - and allow them to poke out of the sheet slightly. Hold the sushi mat with both hands and carefully roll up, neatly wrapping the different fillings in the middle while rolling away from the side closest to you. When rolled, hold the sushi mat with both hands and squeeze gently to firm up the roll.

Leave the roll on the work surface for at least 5 minutes with the nori joining side touching the work surface – this should enable the nori to stick naturally (you shouldn’t need to add water to help it stick).

Using a sharp knife, slice the sushi into pieces and serve.

Futomaki differs only slightly, it is fatter and therefore bigger in diameter once sliced than Makisushi. 

What’s most important is that as long as the fish is fresh, and the ingredients authentic, you can have fun experimenting! Sainsbury’s sell a wide selection now of Japanese ingredients, including Nori, and for that added  oomph in your cooking, try out the 5th ingredient UMAMI (5th to sweet, sour, bitter and salty..) which you can buy from Selfridges in a tube! Don’t just use it in Japanese dishes, add it to soups, stocks etc for that added WOW factor.

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