There is one particular food that I’ve noticed tends to be far more scarce up north than down south and that is sushi. The taste of raw fish can be a bit of an acquired taste but in my London days, lunchtime forays to Itsu were the highlight of my day. I do often miss the clean but filling taste of sushi up north where the pasty firmly rules over the uramaki roll.
I’m not laying any claims to being a sushi master, one of my best friends being Japanese I know all too well how long it takes to achieve that title. But I do love trying my hand at it and there’s a huge sense of achievement from creating your own beautiful pieces of perfectly fresh sushi. So if you fancy trying it out I’d definitely recommend it, especially as the ingredients are now so easy to find.
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
Nori (seaweed) sheets
Sushi rice seasoning (or make it yourself from rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt)
Sushi rolling mats
Soy sauce and wasabi (for dipping only)
Fillings – my favourites are fresh raw salmon and avocado or surimi sticks and cucumber
Sesame seeds (for inside out rolls)
A very sharp knife (a santoku knife if possible)
Chop sticks (if desired)
Small dish for the soy to dip
Cling film (if you want to make inside out rolls)
Here’s the method, it does take a while to do so it’s a great thing to do on a quiet, rainy Sunday.
1. Prepare the rice by soaking it in cold water for about 15 mins or until it’s white and lost its translucency.
2. Drain it and cook in rice cooker (if you don’t have one follow instructions on how to cook it from your favourite website this one is good: http://www.japancentre.com/recipes/how-to-make-japanese-rice-and-sushi-rice).
3. Whilst the rice is cooking start prepping your station – lay out the knife, chopping board, sushi mat, dipping bowl, chopsticks, soy, wasabi etc and lay out a bowl of cold water (we’ll come to what that’s for).
4. Once your rice is cooked place in a large bowl and leave to cool for at least 15-20 mins.
5. Whilst the rice is cooling you can prep your fillings by slicing into long strips and lay out on a board so you can get to them easily.
6. When the rice is cool, drizzle with seasoning and mix in (about one tbsp per 100g or to taste).
7. Here’s where it gets tricky! Lay out your sushi mat (sticky horizontal) and place a nori sheet a rough side up on top – note this is for a standard maki rolls.
8. Wet your hands slightly in the bowl of cold water, take a handful of rice, place on the nori and start compressing it down onto the nori til it’s no more than half a cm thick, cover the whole sheet to the edges leaving a strip at the top about 2-3 inches empty.
9. Place strips of your fillings in the middle of your rice covered nori, try to use fillings no more than 1.5 cm thick.
10. This bit is fiddly, make sure the bottom of your rice covered sheet is in line with the bottom of your mat. Put your thumbs under the mat and with the tips of your fingers hold the fillings carefully so they don’t fall out of place, then with your hands quickly roll the mat with the rice so that it covers the filling entirely then grip the mat securely from end to end of the roll to make sure it stays in shape.
11. Then wet the empty top of the nori with a tiny bit of water to secure it, then pick up the top of the mat and keep rolling until you have a complete roll.
12. Carefully place the sushi roll onto your chopping board then take your sharp knife and wet the blade with a little water and carefully slice into the roll to make pieces of sushi (about 1.5 cm thick) make sure you cut off the ends first.
13. Enjoy with a swipe of wasabi and a dip in soy.
If you fancy making inside out rolls the method is slightly different, follow the guide on this video: http://youtu.be/Nz9EAqTBrNw
A long method but definitely worth it and also real fun to do with a group of friends. Happy sushi Sunday!