Saturday, December 27, 2008

Making Sushi - From Rice to Rolls!

Here's the way that I have made sushi in the past, and is something I thought I'd share here. :) Here first is the recipe for making proper sushi rice, and then the instructions for picking ingredients and rolling rolls.

~ Making Sushi Rice ~

2 cups rice: You will need Japanese short-grained white rice, also called japonica rice or sushi rice. Do not use American-style long grained rice as it will not turn out well. Japanese rice has the right amount of starch needed to make the rice glossy and sticky but not mushy or dry.

o You can find this style of rice at most well-stocked grocery stores or Asian markets.
o You can also buy it online from a store like
o It is best to use the freshest rice possible.

* 3-4 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar: Only use rice vinegar to make sushi rice. Rice vinegar is a mild vinegar made from fermented rice or rice wine.
* 2-3 tablespoons sugar: Use plain white sugar to taste.
* 2 teaspoons salt: You may use table salt, kosher salt or sea salt depending on your preference.

Making Sushi Rice
Preparing the Vinegar

* Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan on the stove over medium heat until the sugar and salt are dissolved into the vinegar. Do not boil the mixture. Leave sitting off heat until needed. You can make this portion before or while the rice is cooking.

Preparing the Rice - Optional Step

* Rinse the rice in cold water. This will take several minutes and several changes of water. Rinse the rice until the final change of water runs almost clear (this is an optional step. I myself usually do not wash my rice before cooking).

* You can leave the rice to soak in the water for 15 minutes, or let it it sit drained in the strainer for up to an hour.

Cooking the Rice

* Steam the rinsed rice in an equal amount of water (i.e.: 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water) in a rice cooker or on the stove top following the package's directions or by bringing to a boil, then cooking over very low heat until the water is evaporated and you are left with lovely sticky rice.
* As always when cooking rice on the stovetop, use very low heat after the initial boil and keep the lid on at all times. The trapped steam is what enables the rice to cook.

* An optional step is to add a piece of kombu, or dried kelp, to the rice as it cooks to add more flavor. If using the stove-top method, discard the kelp after the initial boil. (Optional, I usually don't so this either)

* Once the rice has finished cooking, it can be left off heat in the pot with the lid on for up to 15 minutes.

Seasoning the Rice

* When the rice has finished cooking, add the vinegar seasoning to the rice. Turn the rice out of the pot and into a non-reactive shallow bowl.
* The traditional method uses a wooden container, such as a hangiri, but plastic mixing bowls work just fine, and are usually what I use to mix.
* You want to cool down the rice and add the seasoning at the same time.
* Use a tool like a shamoji (rice paddle) in a gentle chopping motion to spread out the grains of rice and ensure the seasoning covers every grain.
* Some people use a hand-held fan to help in the cooling process. (silly Japanese traditionalists)

1. Use a non-reactive metal or wooden container for the final step of seasoning the rice, as some metals will react with the vinegar and mar the flavor of the rice.
2. Be careful not to squish the grains of rice together when adding the vinegar mixture. You want to maintain the integrity of the rice grains.
3. Spreading out the rice makes it cool down faster. This stops the rice cooking in its own heat. To make sushi, the rice should be at about room temperature.
4. If you are not going to make the sushi right away, cover the seasoned rice with a damp cloth to ensure that it doesn't dry out.
5. Never refrigerate sushi rice, as it will get too hard to work with or eat.

~ Rolling Sushi Maki ~

Once you have your rice prepared, it's time to take out your ingredients for the rolls you want to make. So good safe choices for beginners are using cucumber, fake crab sticks, canned tuna, and daikon (pickled radish), these ingredients are usually non offensive taste wise to people who don't normally like eating raw fish or don't know what to expect.

What you need:

Sushi Nori - seaweed

Sushi Ingredients -(examples) Salmon, Cucumber, Fake Crab, Daikon, Tuna, Avacado, Asparagus

Sushi Roller - see picture: you can get sushi making kits usually at your local supermarket. The sushi roller is an essential part of the process, you cannot properly roll sushi without one of these.

When cutting your cucumber, a traditional way is to cut in in half length wise and then sliver off sections from the middle (kind of like making cucumber pie slices that are really really long).

After you've assembled your ingredients and have your nori, it is time to put your sushi rice to use. Have one sheet of nori laid out on your sushi roller. Make sure that the nori is facing the right way up; you want the the rough side of the nori facing up, and not the shiny side. Feel both sides with your finger and you'll know which one you should have facing upwards. The smooth side facing down, rouch side up.

Using the rice paddle, gather a medium amount of rice onto the paddle and start to spread it evenly over the nori. You want the nori to be thoroughly covered, but you do not want to use too rice rice. Cover it so you cannot see the nori underneath, but do not anymore beyond thoroughly covering the nori. The sushi rice may be quite sticky and a little hard to navigate over the nori, it's sometimes a good idea to get out a spoon to scrap it off.

Once you have the nori covered pick a few ingredients and lay them at the end of one side of the roll lengthwise (make sure you're laying it close to the end of the sushi roller and that you can immediately roll the ingredients up, if this is not the case, orient the sushi roller and the nori so that the ingredients and everything will be facing the right direction. Lay them all as close together as possible.

Now it's time to roll! This is a subtle art and sometimes not the easiest thing to get right the first time. carefully roll your sushi nori forward into a circle with the sushi roller. See the reference pictures to the right.

Carefully roll the nori up, keeping light pressure evenly across the top as you roll. Roll it carefully and consistantly to prevent the nori from tearing.

Once you have the whole thing rolled up, take away the sushi roller and check to see if the whole thing is deciding to stick together. Hopefully the answer is yes! If the answer is no, try rolling once again, and take out one or two ingredients to start with something easier and smaller.

Once the roll is rolled, pick a thin long knife (I usually use a steak knife) and carefully cut off the end of the roll. Saw the knife back and forth gently and stabilize the roll with your other hand. carefully cut off each end of the roll and eat them, because they're delicious!

Now repeat this gentle slow sawing motion to cut the roll into a bunch of different little pieces of sushi! Repeat the process as much as possible and enjoy your delicious sushi!

1 comment:

Kathleen said...