How to: Sushi Basics

Sunday, December 14, 2014

One of my favorite things to make is sushi.  It started from my love of eating sushi, which lead into my curiosity on how to make my own sushi.  I thought it would be really hard but it's actually quite simple and requires a few main ingredients.  I'm no expert but I've learned a few things and I'd like to share how I make my sushi.


The very first time I made sushi, I cooked the rice over the stove in a stone pot.  I swear, it was the best sushi rice I've ever made (or was it the fact that it was the first time I made sushi rice and it actually tasted like what I eat at restaurants? I'll never know).  But I use a rice cooker now just because it's a lot easier and faster.  I sometimes over or under add water, so I still haven't found the right consistency.  I really should write down my method each time.  But anyways, this previous time I made it, it turned out ok.  I'll update on any future improvements.
  • 3 cups short grain rice (rice measuring cup)
  • 3 1/4 cups water (rice measuring cup)
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
Rinse the rice in a large bowl and wash it with cold water.  Repeat a few times until water becomes almost clear.  Drain the rice and let it sit for 30 minutes.  In the rice cooker, add the water and let it sit for 1 hour.  Follow your cooker instructions.  After rice is cooked, let it sit for 15 minutes before taking it out.

While you wait for the rice to cook, you can heat the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan.  Heat until the mixture is dissolved and let it cool.  When rice is ready, spread it in a large flat container or bowl and let it cool.  Slowly add the vinegar mixture onto the rice. Fold the rice, and repeat until the mixture is done.  Your rice is ready to be used.

When I want raw fish and other sushi ingredients, I got to my nearby Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa.  Also, every year they have a blue fin tuna fish cutting event.  I've went the past two years and it is the best opportunity for me to get the freshest tuna around here.  Customers can immediately buy it after they cut it on stage.  The price per pound depends on what area of the fish your buying.  Chu-toro is medium fatty tuna from the lower belly near the center and end of the fish and Oh-toro, which is more expensive, comes from the lower belly of the fish near the head.  This is the one time I splurge on raw fish.

  • bamboo mat
  • saran wrap
  • sharp knife
  • plastic glove
Common Ingredients
  • sushi seaweed
  • raw fish (I like salmon and tuna)
  • avocado
  • cucumber
  • imitation crabsticks
  • shrimp
  • fish roe
  • japanese tamago egg
  • eel
  • sesame (to sprinkle)
There really isn't much needed to create sushi.  It's mostly working with your hands.  It's optional if you want to use plastic gloves to keep the rice from sticking to your hats.  I like to use it when I make rice balls for nigri sushi.  Or just keep your hands moist with water.  With the bamboo mat in front of you, cut a piece of saran wrap that is about the same size and lay it on top. You lay your piece of seaweed on top and lightly place sushi rice all over.  Leave a small gap at the top row.  Place your ingredients on the end closest to you, horizontally.  When you're ready, roll the saran wrap with the mat and pull out the saran wrap as you roll.  That way the roll stays together and not stick on the mat, and you can apply pressure on the mat to hold it tight.  When you are done with your roll, you can seal the end (top row) by dabbing on some rice vinegar and finish rolling the flap onto your sushi roll.  Take your knife and slice your sushi, about 6 pieces.

You can really just create any kind of sushi you want.  I put what I like into the rolls.  Sometimes I create special ones like following a japanese tamago egg recipe, hand rolls, or nigri sushi (single topping on a small ball of rice).  You can also buy packaged tofu pouches and fill with rice to make inari sushi.  There are unlimited options!

This time I learned how to make spicy mayo!  I was also able to create spicy tuna and spicy salmon rolls with it.

Spicy Mayo
  • 1 tbsp Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise 
  • 1 tsp Siracha hot chili sauce
The most basic way to make it is just to mix these two ingredients together.  It's that simple!  It is great as a dipping sauce and garnish for your sushi pleasure.  To make spicy tuna or salmon just chop up the fish into small cubes and mix in the spicy mayo until your desired amount.  You can add in scallions too.  You can put this inside your rolls or make inside out rolls and place it on top (like the picture above).

Hope you enjoyed this basic lesson on sushi making.  Does it make you want to give it a try?

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