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THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO MAKING SUSHI COOKING INFORMATION

 

Sushi ~ cold boiled rice moistened with rice vinegar, usually shaped into bite-size pieces and topped with raw seafood (nigiri-zushi) or formed into a long seaweed-wrapped roll, often around strips of vegetable or raw fish, and sliced into bite-size pieces (maki-zushi).
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A FEW THINGS YOU NEED TO MAKE 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 specializing 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
  • Medium grain rice
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sugar
  • 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

Some of these items are optional, depending upon what kind of sushi you would like to make.For instance, you would not need nori seaweed or a rolling mat if you are making nigiri, which is a hand sculptured ball of sushi rice topped with a small slice of fish or other toppings.

THE BASIC CALIFORNIA ROLL

If you are going to introduce someone to sushi, this is the way to do it. A California roll contains crab meat, avocado, and cucumber.

Spread about a cup of rice on the sheet of nori, leaving about an inch of uncovered nori at one side. Do not pack the rice, rolling will take care of that. The rice should be less than a 1/4 inch thick -- you should be able to see nori through the rice. The biggest mistake is using too much rice.

Put avocado slices on top of the rice first, one slice thick, near the edge of the rice, the edge opposite the uncovered nori. Unwrap and split a piece of imitation crab meat lengthwise into two pieces. Place the two pieces end to end on top of the avocado. Then add several strips of cucumber next to the crab and on top of the avocado. (If you put the avocado on last, it is a lot messier to roll.)

California roll

I prefer to place the nori on a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the bamboo mat, to keep the avocado and rice out of the mat. Slowly fold the mat over, tucking the end of the nori to start a roll. (Keep lifting up the mat and plastic wrap as you go.) Lessen the pressure slightly to straighten out the roll, if needed. Then continue rolling with medium pressure.

Remove roll from mat and cut into 6 or 8 even pieces. Important Tip: Keep the knife very moist to prevent sticking, remoistening before each cut. First cut the roll in half, then fold the two halves together and cut into thirds (6 pieces) or quarters (8 pieces). Sushi bars usually serve the roll sliced into 6 pieces, but 8 is easier. Turn the pieces on end and arrange on platter.

Tip:
Sometimes, if the end pieces are quite uneven, the ends are cut off at the one-third point and stood on end. Then, the other section is cut in half at a slight angle. All pieces will then look more alike when stood on end.

Some sushi bars make an "inside out" California roll. The rice is spread over all of the roll, there is no uncovered edge as above. Then the nori is turned over onto the plastic wrap so it is rice side down. The ingredients are placed on one edge and the roll is rolled as before. After rolling, the roll is rolled in toasted sesame seeds prior to cutting, or sesame seeds can be sprinkled on top after cutting. Optionally, flying fish roe can be used in place of the sesame seeds (it actually tastes better, but sesame seeds are easier to find).

PREPARING SUSHI RICE ~ Shari or Sushi Meshi

Rice cooked for sushi should be slightly harder in texture than for other dishes. You will need approximately one cup of cooked rice for each roll. It is easier and better to make too much rice than too little. Every recipe for sushi rice is different, but they all work. You might find a recipe on the bottle of rice vinegar, on the bag of rice, or on the package of nori.

Most recipes call for rinsing the raw rice until the water runs clear, but I often neglect this. The reason it is rinsed first is to remove talc from the rice. Most rice seems to be coated now with some sort of cereal starch, rather than talc, so rinsing could be omitted. They also suggest letting the rinsed rice drain in a colander, or zaru, for 30 - 60 minutes. It's up to you. Just promise me one thing - that you will not use instant rice, converted rice, or brown rice. The rice you use should be short-grained rice, preferably Cal-Rose.

A fairly consistent recipe is to use equal amounts of rice and water, which will make the same number of cups of rice as the total of the rice and water. Another book mentions adding water until it is one inch above the rice, but I would go with the one-to-one ratio. The rice and water are brought to a quick boil, boiled for 1 minute, covered, simmered for 20 minutes, and let stand for 10 minutes after removing from the heat. It is optional to add a piece of kombu to the water and rice while it is brought to a boil, then removed. Another option is to add a few drops of sake or mirin to the water, but it will make little difference when the vinegar is added afterward.

Put the hot rice in a large bowl and pour sushi vinegar evenly over the surface of the rice, mixing it into the rice with quick cutting strokes. You should use one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of rice. Fan the rice at the same time to cool the rice quickly. What I often do is pour the vinegar into the pan and stir it in, then spread the rice out on aluminum foil on a cookie sheet to cool. If you are keeping track of the terminology, a hangiri, handai, or sushi oke is a rice cooling tub and a uchiwa is a rice cooling fan.

If you cannot find sushi vinegar, you can make your own. To make sushi vinegar, combine 1/3 cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and a dash of MSG (optional) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve everything and remove from heat.

PREPARING SUSHI OMELET ~ Tamago

Thin egg sheets
Yield: 4 - 6 sheets.

With chopsticks, beat 4 large eggs with 1 Tablespoon sugar (or more to taste) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour through fine-holed strainer into glass measuring cup to remove any membrane. Heat skillet and oil well. pour a small amount of the egg mixture (1/6 to 1/4 of the total) into the skillet and tilt pan to spread. When the bottom has set, remove from heat and carefully lift up egg sheet taking care not to tear the sheet. Turn over and return to heat and cook lightly for a few seconds until the second side is golden. Carefully remove and drain. Repeat.

Thick egg sheets
Yield: 1 sheet.

Use same recipe, but cook entire amount at once. Cooking is similar. The preferred pan is a 9-inch square tamago pan.

Americanized medium thick egg sheet. Yield: 1 sheet. Beat two large eggs with 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour into well-greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake in preheated 300 F oven for 15 minutes. Carefully flip egg sheet onto paper towel and drain. (I would be tempted to cook all of these in a similar manner, possibly using a square baking pan.)

Tamago yaki
Yield: 1 roll or sheet.

Beat four large eggs, 4 Tablespoons dashi (stock, see below), 1 Tablespoon sugar (or more to taste), 1 teaspoon mirin (sweet rice wine), 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, and salt to taste. Strain as before. In a well-oiled tamago pan, pour in about a quarter of the mixture and spread as if making a crepe. As the mixture cooks, and as it bubbles and sets, roll it and move to the back of the pan. Reoil the pan and add more mixture, being sure to get some under the roll. Again, as it cooks, roll the roll to the front of the pan, then move to the back. Repeat until all the mixture is cooked. Remove the roll from the pan and roll as if for a sushi roll and squeeze out excess liquid. It can be rolled into a round or rectangular shape, then is sliced when cooled.

DASHI

A basic stock, usually made from dried bonito flakes and dried kelp. You can use instant dashi, called dashi-no-moto, which is like a bouillon cube. You can also substitute any other stock if you don't like the fishy taste.

SOME SUSHI RECIPES

 

 

 

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