Sushi by SilentDeath
Mmmm, sushi. Everyone loves sushi, unless they happen to suck. Most people spend the extra cash to get it from a restaurant, but making it yourself is both cheaper and more fun.
So, what exactly is involved in making sushi? Well, to start, you need to make the rice. Sushi rice is short-grained and made very sticky. Exactly how much rice you need is dependant upon how much sushi you're making, so I'll let you judge that for yourself. However, three cups was all the rice that I used to make what's in the pictures later in the thread.
The general recipe for rice is this:
- 2c Short-grain rice, washed.
- 2c Water
- 1/4c Rice Vinegar
- 1tsp Sugar
- 1 Rice Cooker
You will need to wash the rice before cooking it, just to clean all the extra crap off of it. Run the rice in a strainer under cold water, until the water flowing through it runs clear. It doesn't take very long, and it tastes so much better.
You'll want to measure out 1/4c of rice vinegar and dissolve the sugar into it. Add this to the 2c of water and washed rice in your rice cooker. Hit the switch to send it into cooking mode, and go do something else for a bit. When it's done cooking, you will have something that looks like this:
Fresh out of the cooker, the rice will be too hot to handle, much less to form to make sushi. So, let it cool off until you can work with it. I suggest putting it under a fan, to speed the process. Don't let the rice go cold, though, it needs to retain a bit of warmth. Don't ask me why, it just does.
So, you'll need to have something to go on top of the rice. Pictured (clockwise from the top) are eel (unagi), tuna (maguro), an unidentified fish that was marked as salmon (sake), but didn't taste like it, and imitation crab, or fish cake. All, with the exception of the tuna, came from a Japanese market. The tuna was from a Central Market (which is owned by HEB). An important note: do not assume that fish is sushi-grade because it "looks good." Sushi-grade fish is checked for parasites, so make sure you check with whoever is behind the counter. If they don't know, don't buy it.
So, let's start by making some nigiri, which is a small brick of rice with a slice of fish on top. First of all, get a bowl of water to wet your hands. I can't emphasize this enough! If you don't wet your hands between making pieces of sushi, you will never finish! Rice becomes stuck to your hands, and it turns into a huge, frustrating mess.
You'll want to slice the fish up into pieces that are a little larger than 2" x 1/2". Thickness should be to your liking, though when they are thin, it's easier to eat. You also get more servings out of it. Any fish you have left after you've used up your rice can be eaten as sashimi, if you wish.
A good guide for size is a 2" long by 1/2" wide and 1/2" tall brick. You don't really need to get a ruler out or anything, just go with something that seems about the right size to eat. Too big, and you'll have a hard time picking it up. Too small, and you'll have to eat about 30 pieces. If you clump the rice where your fingers meet your palm, and curl your fingers to square off the brick, it will give you approximately the right shape. It's hard to describe exactly how it's done, and I don't have any pictures of that step, so you'll have to experiment with what works for you. Compression of the rice is important, or it will fall apart when you try to eat. Once you have a brick ready, top it with a slice of fish that is just a little bit oversized, so that it drapes slightly over the edges. Squeeze the fish and the rice together, so it won't fall off, and you're done. It may not look like what you see in a restaurant, but they've got more practice in than you. On the imitation crab rolls, I took a small strip of seaweed and wrapped it around the roll, to make it look awesome and to ensure the topping stays on.
So, now that you've got making nigiri down, let's try some rolls, or norimake. These are what you see being served most often. It's a roll of fish or vegetables with a wrapping of seaweed (nori) on the outside. They're relatively easy to prepare, but take a lot of time compared to nigiri.
For a normal-sized roll, you'll need to put a full sheet of seaweed out on a bamboo rolling mat. Protip: turn on a burner on your stove, and drag the seaweed across it a few times, to make it easier to work with and less likely to split. Spread rice thinly across the seaweed with your hands (remember to wet them down often), making sure not to leave gaps in the middle, but do not pack the rice down, rolling it will take care of that for you. You'll want to put a line of whatever is to be in the roll down the bottom side of the seaweed, leaving enough room to start the roll. It will look something like this:
Pictured above is a California roll, minus the fish, with some rolls of fish eggs to the side. I didn't have any tuna left over from the nigiri, so we just used cucumber and avocado. Really, you can add almost anything to these rolls, so long as you slice it up to fit on the seaweed. To begin the roll, grab the edge closest to you, and curl it over the bulk of the ingredients. Once you've got it over, you can start using the mat to roll, like this:
It helps if you wet down the back edge of the seaweed, to make the roll stay shut.
From there, cut the roll in half, and those halves in half again. You should end up with 8 rolls of a good size, though the two end rolls may be a little bit deflated. I usually just eat them before serving. Tasty!
You can see in one of the above pictures that I also have rolls that I made with roe, or fish eggs. It's really very simple to make these, just lay out the seaweed and rice as if you were making a normal roll, spread the eggs across, roll, and top with a bit more. I also made some rolls with what was left of the imitation crab, and they turned out really well.
Wasabi is important to the meal, as most people mix in a little wasabi with their soy sauce. I choose powdered wasabi as my favorite, but it can be purchased in tubes, if you wish. Some people eat ginger between pieces of sushi, but I'm not a fan, so I left that out. All there is to do now is set the table and get to the eatin'. Enjoy your sushi!