TO MAKE SUSHI
How to make sushi and sashimi in seven easy lessons
by Leslie Rampey
originated during correspondence with a friend who was
planning to brave the world of sushi for the first time.
These are not the last word on sushi by any means, but
maybe others in the same situation will find some useful
anyone has more sushi recipes they would like to share
with us, please send in your recipe by clicking
PRONUNCIATION OF SUSHI AND SASHIMI TERMS : Lesson 1
- first lesson. Basic Japanese pronunciation, so that
you can ask
for what you want. And this part of the language is
easy (good thing, because nothing else about it is).
Basically, just remember that in almost every case,
consonants are going to be pronounced just like you
think they should be and the vowels are pronounced exactly
the same as Spanish vowels (which is easy in itself
as Spanish has only the five vowel sounds as opposed
to the 15 or more in French):
broad 'a' sound as in 'father'
long 'a' sound as in 'hay'
'ee' sound as in 'see'
'o' sort of but shortened (you kind of have to
imagine a Spanish speaker pronouncing this one)
'oo' sound as in 'boo'
that's it. Just get those five sounds and you can sound
very passably speak like you know what you are talking
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUSHI AND SASHIMI : Lesson 2
people do not know the difference between sushi and
sashimi and misuse the terms:
rice served with pieces of something else - not necessarily
raw fish, and not necessarily fish at all. The majority
of the times people use the term sushi they are referring
to the rice with raw fish, but not always.
Sushi can come in the individual pieces that may be
called nigiri-sushi or it can come in rolls cut up
in to pieces, probably called maki-sushi. The rolls
make for easier eating, so if someone is self-conscious
about how they are going to look eating it, the maki-sushi
might be the way to go.
means raw fish without the rice.
SUSHI AND SASHIMI THINGS YOU PROBABLY DON'T WANT TO
EAT : Lesson 3
is a bit subjective on my part but I have had about
ywenty-five years of experience.
and tako : squid and octopus
Although these are very popular items, I've just never
seen the point to them. They are very chewy with no
particular taste at all as the payoff.
and uni : eel and sea urchin
much only for the experienced or really adventurous.
I've heard uni described as a definitely acquired
taste - someone said that it tastes like something
that had been sitting in a tidal pool in Puget Sound!
If I've ever eaten it, I don't remember!
FAVOURITES FOR SUSHI AND SASHIMI : Lesson 4
hamachi! My favorite of all! It means yellowtail.
It is possible but probably not likely that you might
see it listed as buri or inada. You can get it straight
as nigiri-sushi - that is the piece over the rice
- or as what might be called negahamachi-maki - that
is, hamachi with scallions (which really is a wonderful
combination) in a roll of rice wrapped in seaweed.
Either way, you cannot go wrong!
than hamachi, you can't go wrong with:
will be listed as maguro or toro, the latter being
a much choicer cut. This will be available on the
single nigiri pieces or in the maki rolls. It's nowhere
near as big a taste as hamachi but many people, especially
beginners, find it very pleasant. I would, however,
stay away from anything called a spicy tuna roll.
As far as I can figure out, they douse it with tabasco-laced
mayonnaise. I don't think that it's exactly authentic,
and it will ruin your palate for the rest of the meal
fresh salmon is sake (not to be confused with the
rice wine sake - the accents are a little different).
This is good - very delicate tasting, probably best
eaten prior to hamachi. Sushi bars very often will
have the smoked variety of salmon also. That will
taste more or less like novalox.
words for the varieties but often grouped under the
generic word saba. Now, this mackerel thing is a true
mystery to me and I would love to solve it. It seems
that there are not only a variety of mackerels, but
it can also come in various stages of preparation.
When it is good, it rivals the hamachi. But often,
I don't care for it at all because it has been pickled
or something and then it loses its rawness and tastes
more like plain old cooked fish. So, I never know
whether to order it or not, because I haven't been
able to figure out the right question if it is of
the right type or the right condition that it's what
I like. As I said, very mysterious.
- if you like caviar, you really must try this! Large
red roe that are fun to pop between your teeth. It
usually comes in a short, squat tube of seaweed -
packed into it with rice on the bottom. It is a bit
tricky to eat, as there is no way to make two bites
out of it. Easier to eat if you can find it in the
maki (roll) format but that does not seem to be very
to summarize, the Big Five for me are:
SOME OTHER GOOD SUSHI AND SASHIMI STUFF : Lesson 5
are some suggestions if one wants to join in the fun
but finds oneself unable to handle the raw stuff:
is the smoked salmon that I mentioned.
- the shrimp is boiled first. (Not ama ebi which is
raw. I think that raw shellfish is a good thing to
avoid. There is also a still-living variety, on which
I will not comment.)
- it is just that salad crab meat that is really pressed,
rolled Pollack (cooked).
or kappa-maki in a roll.
- comes in little sushi pieces, often wrapped with
a strip of seaweed.
likely not authentic and perhaps a bit declasse to
order, it is still very tasty (and good to make at
home). Strips of avocado and faux crab are sprinkled
with sesame seeds and wrapped in rice and seaweed.
Often it will be rolled up inside out with the rice
on the outside and then rolled again in a coating
of smelt roe, which makes it very nice to look at,
and I like the crunchiness of the smelt roe.
A lot of new-fangled sushi rolls, such as the above,
have appeared in recent years . . . often mind-boggling
concoctions of individual chefs. Some have become generic,
such as the California Roll, but others are idiosyncratic
and often named for cities.
MANAGEMENT OF SUSHI AND SASHIMI CONDIMENTS : Lesson
basic Sushi and Sashimi condiments are important because
being able to handle them, well, shows that you know
how to handle them. Also, they really add greatly to
the enjoyment of the meal. The basics are just three:
2) Wasabi paste
3) Pickled ginger slices
your place will be your own small saucer-like dish
(might be round or square or rectangular). The sauce
itself will be either in the original commercial bottles
or in a very small ceramic pitcher which you will
share with one or more other persons. (If the commercial
bottles are there, and you have a choice between the
regular and low-sodium, choose the low-sodium. Of
course, it is healthier but it really does bring out
the flavor of the fish better and doesn't drown it
in so much salt that you'll be spending the rest of
the afternoon at the water cooler). Anyway, pour a
small amount in your little dish - enough to soak
but not so much that it will slosh. You can always
add more later.
actual dipping of the sushi pieces is a matter of
many opinions. Some people hold that the only way
is to allow only the fish part of the piece to touch
the soy sauce. For myself, I like to let the rice
soak up some of the soy . . . just be careful not
to let it do that for too long because then the packed
rice will fall apart, and it's kind of icky to have
a whole lot of rice grains floating in your soy dish.
You might want to watch what some others are doing.
will appear as a clump or mound of green stuff on
the dish with the sushi. It is horseradish and usually
very hot (although the strength can vary depending
on who makes it), so try it only in a very small amount
first. We have been told that it is authentic to put
some of the wasabi paste into your soy dish and mix
it around. Keep in mind, however, that the chef usually
will add a bit of the wasabi himself between the rice
and the fish, so you might not need any at all. Probably
taste the sushi piece first. If it's already hot enough,
forget the wasabi.
will appear on the plate with the sushi as a mound
of golden or pinkish slices. It is very spicy although
not hot in the same way the wasabi is. It generally
is NOT to be eaten with the fish, but between sampling
the different varieties. The idea is that it clears
your palate. It is also wonderful for your stomach!
Just use a slice or two whenever you change to a new
might find a few other odds and ends on the plate as
garnish - some edible, some not. Obviously, don't eat
the little piece of green paper grass! There might be
something that looks like a clump of white grass. I
think that is just shredded cabbage - probably OK to
eat, but not required. Citrus slices also might appear.
that is the condiment basics. I think that all we have
left to cover is some odds and ends!
SUSHI AND SASHIMI ODDS AND ENDS : Lesson 7
a few comments left:
Chopsticks to eat Sushi and Sashimi:
are kind of on your own here, as I am not an expert.
Perhaps you have had some prior experience in Chinese
restaurants which will come in handy. If not, go to:
have got diagrams there that show the basics much
better than I can explain them. The thing is that
even if you've got the basics of it down, sushi still
presents some problems. If you get the maki (the rolls)
that are cut up in bite-size pieces, that shouldn't
be any trouble. The problem comes with the nigiri
pieces. These usually are larger than one bite but
it's impossible (for me) to get that first bite while
holding the remainder of the piece between the chopsticks.
And it ain't easy to dip the whole thing in the soy
sauce either while holding it in chopsticks. Usually
the result is a very large and embarrassing soy sauce
splatter! So, I usually give in with nigiri pieces
and just pick them up with my fingers.
Sushi and Sashimi:
pretty much is going to depend on your company and
whatever the plan is. If feasible, try to order a
la carte . . . that way, you can control what
the agenda is such that it is not possible to order
a la carte then you will have to settle for
ordering a sushi or sashimi sampler plate which usually
come in two sizes. If that is what you must do, try
to request no squid or octopus (ika or tako). It has
been my experience that they always put that on the
assorted plates and they are just not worth it. If
you do get a sampler plate, ask the wait-person what
is what. That way you will know what you like for
think that is about it . . .
article was written by Leslie Campbell Rampey, Ph.D.,
M.L.I.S. who was Assistant Librarian for Public Services
at Roberts Memorial Library in Middle Georgia College,
Cochran, GA. Leslie
used to have her own web site but unfortuanetly with
the demise of Geocities it has now gone forever.
page remains as a tribute to Leslie Campbell Rampey
who was killed with her husband Bryan in a head-on
car crash in March 2003.