February 15, 2012
Sushi: A Guide for Beginner Chefs
Heading to Japan for a vacation soon? If you’re not, you probably wish you were. If you can’t get to Japan right away, get inspired and partake in Japanese culture with a sushi party! As intricate as sushi looks, it is not hard to create. This quick Sushi 101 guide will give you the essential steps to making a tasty California Roll and provide helpful etiquette tips for when you dine out!
- A bamboo mat (this looks like a small place mat and can be found in grocery stores. You can also use a clean place mat and cover it with plastic wrap)
- A pot or rice cooker
- Sushi Rice (this is not regular white rice… and nothing can really substitute sushi rice. The grains have a combination of starches that make the rice stick together)
- Rice Vinegar
- Nori Sheets (seaweed paper)
- Crab / Imitation Crab
- Japanese Mayonnaise (regular mayonnaise will also work)
1. Sushi rice is the key ingredient! Sushi rice needs to be soaked and rinsed until the water runs clear (at minimum, not cloudy). While soaking, the rice is absorbing water and preventing the rice from cracking. Don’t skip this step! Follow the cooking instructions on your sushi rice bag – typically 2 cups rice to 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cover. While the rice is cooking, you can prep the other ingredients.
2. Halve your avocado, cut in long slices and then spoon out. Put aside.
3. Tear your crab and mix it in with a dash of salt and 2 tbsp. mayonnaise.
4. When all the water is absorbed in the rice pot, empty into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
5. To make the rice sweet, you have 2 options:
- Take ½ cup rice vinegar and ¼ cup sugar and heat in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Stir into rice.
- OR, stir in ½ cup rice vinegar and ⅛ cup agave to rice
6. Keep rice covered and let cool.
Time to roll the sushi!
Lay a nori sheet on top of your mat (bamboo or place mat with a sheet of plastic wrap). Spread rice on 2/3rds of the nori sheet creating a thin covering, leaving a little bit of room around the ends. Helpful tip: wet your fingers first so the rice doesn’t stick to your hands, making flattening the rice out much easier! Flip the nori sheet so that the rice is now on the bottom (this will create an “inside out” roll).
Take your crab mixture and spread over 1/3 of nori sheet nearer to one end. Top with sliced avocado.
To roll your sushi, take one end of the nori over the crab and avocado and tuck it tightly underneath, using the rolling mat to help tighten the roll. Continue tightly rolling, lifting the mat as you go until the whole nori is rolled. Cut into six pieces and serve with soy sauce and wasabi or pickled ginger.
Remember, you can make many variations such as adding cucumber slices or substituting the mayonnaise with cream cheese. You can sprinkle sesame seeds or tobiko (flying fish eggs) on the rice side of the nori before rolling or you could even put all the ingredients on one side of the nori. The options are endless!
Did you know?
- Sashimi (raw fish) is a typical appetizer and is meant to showcase the quality of fish being served.
- In Japan, it is considered taboo to mix wasabi into soy sauce! Smothering your sushi in soy sauce will mask the taste and quality of the fish, therefore it is recommended to dip lightly and sparingly.
- Dip your sushi in soy sauce seaweed side down so that you do not absorb too much soy sauce and overwhelm the taste of the fish.
- Pickled ginger is meant to cleanse your palate between different types of sushi.
- It is considered rude to put your chopsticks into a bowl of rice as it resembles the incense burned at a funeral. Instead, lay your chopsticks on the holder or on top of your bowl.
What are you waiting for? Get cooking!
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