Sushi, especially at its best is not only a delicious treat, but a work of art. Unfortunately, it seems to command as high a price as a painting by a master artist. One way to eat high quality sushi at a fraction of the cost is to make it yourself. The basic techniques are not at all difficult, and this versatile food style will allow you to show off your creativity and impress many people with your talents.
To make sushi, you need only a few ingredients and just one special tool. The tool you will need that is not found in the standard kitchen is a bamboo rolling mat. This mat gives you a solid but flexible surface to help roll the sushi without breaking it. The ingredients you will need are nori (seaweed sheets), sushi rice, and your choice of fillings. Be sure to use sushi and not long grain or brown rice as the amount of starch is very important to good sushi. Similarly, take care in choosing your ingredients. You want to use the freshest, best quality fish you can find, and you never want to consume freshwater fish raw.
To prepare the sushi, follow these easy steps:
- Lay the nori on the bamboo mat with the shiny side down.
- Lightly spread the rice over the nori. You want a loose layer, not packed, about 1/4 inch thick. Leave about 1 inch of nori unexposed at the far end.
- Lay your fillings on the rice. Start about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way away from the near end, depending on the number of ingredients in your roll. You want to place the primary ingredient nearest you and the rest following it.
- Use the bamboo mat to help you lift the near edge of nori and roll the sheet over the ingredients. Use a gentle, even pressure as you roll, being careful not to squeeze the sushi.
- Continue this motion until you have a finished roll. Then slice the roll into pieces about 3/4 inch long. The ends may not be as pretty as the middle pieces, so I often reserve them for “quality control” testing as the chef. Also, it may help to keep your knife both very sharp and slightly moist. This helps prevent tearing the sushi as you cut it.
- Serve with wasabi, soy sauce, or your favorite sushi condiments.
The process is not difficult at all, but your first attempts may not come out looking as nice as you would like. Getting the balance between rice and filling right and mastering the rolling technique can take some work. Remember to keep the rice loose and no more than 1/4 of an inch thick. If you can see some of the nori through the rice, that’s a good thing – more is definitely not better. Also, keep your rolls to one or two ingredients to start. The difficulty of the rolling increases with more fillings.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice to remember is this: Relax! Making sushi is, and should be, fun. And even if the rolls do not look like masterpieces, they more than likely taste fantastic.