************DISCLAIMER – I do not consider myself any sort of expert in the art of making sushi, I just enjoy it and have done it loads of times. If I’ve said something in this post that is contrary to traditional and well respected ways of making sushi in Japan, than please don’t crucify me. I make no claims that the way I do it isn’t a bit of a Westernised, bastardised version. K? If you feel you may be offended by my sushi making ways, then feel free to wander elsewhere on the internet rather than read this post. Okay, upward and onward! ************
Okay, so here I am again – sorry it’s been so long!
People who know me well know that I love making my own sushi/ maki. If you’ve been lucky enough to experience one of my sushi nights, then you’ll know I love to make heaps and heaps of maki rolls and eat until I am so full I can hardly move. There is something so comforting about being full on sushi – it’s not a disgusting kind of full like say Christmas dinner, or too much spaghetti, it’s just… satisfying!
Explaining how to make sushi is a bit like making it – rather labourious. Firstly what I will say is that it does take some trial and error to finally get the knack of making it yourself, and in my experience having a rice cooker is the way forward. As well, don’t even bother trying to handle the rice without a pair of powder free vinyl gloves that have been lubed up with some olive oil – otherwise you’re going to make a huge mess, get frustrated, and never want to attempt making sushi ever again. As well, do your research. Watch some youtube videos on proper rice spreading and rolling technique and get yourself all the necessary kit you need. Starting up your collection of these items may be a bit pricey, but they will last a while.
You need the following non-food items to properly make maki rolls:
a bamboo rolling mat
powder free vinyl gloves
a rice cooker
You will need the following specialty food items (which can be found in some grocery stores but you may have more luck finding these at an Asian supermarket)
Nori (the seaweed rolling paper)
Sushi Vinegar (or make your own with Rice Vinegar with sugar and salt dissolved into it)
Wasabi (paste or powder – I prefer powder which you then mix with a bit of water to make your own paste)
Kikkoman soy sauce (you can use other kinds, but Kikkoman is the best for sushi)
And of course, you’ll need ingredients to roll into your maki. You can pick a wide variety of things, but these are what I tend to go for:
Yellow or Orange Pepper
Sweet Potato (which I make tempura out of, and roll it once it’s cooled)
Crispy Tempura batter flakes (which I prepare before hand, deep fry, set aside on kitchen roll, and let cool)
***I have used raw fish before for making maki and nigiri, but you have to be careful doing this! There is a scarily high mercury content in raw fish, and if the quality isn’t “sushi grade” it can make you really ill. I’ve never had a problem before, but it worries me! So be cautious and always ask who you’re buying it from if it is acceptable to eat it raw! ***
OKAY PREAMBLE OVER NOW, LET’S GET DOWN TO IT, SHALL WE!
To start: soak your sushi rice for about 20 minutes in cold water in a sieve. Like-a so:
A good rule to live by is 1 cup of rice per person is PLENTY. Once the rice has bathed for a while, it expands a bit so you end up with lots and lots. For example, I measured 2 cups of dry rice, and after it soaked, I ended up with about 3 and 1/3 cup of rice to put in the rice cooker!
The ratio: 1 cup of rice to 1 and 1/3 cup of water. (I always measure the rice again once it’s soaked so I can amend the amount of water I cook it in… Like I said I had 3 and 1/3 cups of rice so I used about 4 cups of water) So, pop that in your rice cooker, and salt the water, and let it steam away until the cooker knows its done. Don’t open the top to peek. No good can come of it. Leave it alone and your trust issues will in time, heal.
While your rice cooks, you can prepare your sushi vinegar (unless you get the bottled stuff that doesn’t need preparing)
Sushi Vinegar is Rice Vinegar heated gently with sugar and salt until the solids dissolve in the liquid. If I make 2 cups of rice (this is the dry measure, not the soaked rice measure… I know, it’s confusing) I usually heat up about 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 2-3 teaspoons of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. This time I had pre-prepared “Sushi Vinegar” and used about 5 tablespoons for my rice.
If you have time while the rice is cooking, chop up your ingredients for the filling, like-a so:
When your rice cooker switches off (ours has two settings “cook” and “warm” and it clicks to “warm” when its done cooking) let the rice sit with the lid still on for a further ten minutes.
Now, getting perfect rice takes practice. This is where that research I talked about comes in handy! It is suggested that you put your cooked rice into a wooden bowl, and use a wooden paddle to fold the rice to cool it down and absorb some of the moisture. I don’t have a big fancy wooden bowl, so I use a metal one and I just use my plastic paddle that came with my rice cooker. I am always satisfied with my sushi rice when I make it with these tools, so bob’s your uncle, but if you’re super traditional and a total stickler, then get yourself some wooden stuff. When you first transfer your rice to your bowl, add maybe half of the Sushi Vinegar to it, and gently fold it into the rice.
Fold slowly, trying not to break up the rice into tiny rice-y pieces, but rather just making sure that the rice cools and the vinegar coats the rice. I also blow on my rice slightly, or fold it in the bowl near an open window. Taste the rice and see if you need more vinegar added. If it tastes bland as hell, you need more vinegar. If you can taste the subtle sweetness/ vinegariness then you’re good! Let the rice sit until it’s cool enough to handle.
While it sits, set yourself up like-a so:
Now, there are a wealth of sources you can find to explain exactly how to roll, and perhaps one day I’ll film a video of my doing it, but it is a messy job and I didn’t want to ruin my camera so I’ll just explain (as best I can) what I do without any more photos as guidance! 🙂
Cover the square of nori with a thin layer of your rice. In the middle of the square (by which I mean, the horizontal middle) place your fillings. Use your mat to bring up the side closest to you and press/tuck the very end up into the fillings/middle of the roll. Then roll the rest of the sheet like a cigar and boom! You’ve somehow done this magical thing we call making maki! You can make a whole bunch of different varieties of rolls. I made some California Roll type things, some crispy spicy tempura rolls, some tempura crabs rolls, and a mixture there of.
This is what I ended up with (before cutting) I like how at the end I only had enough rice left for a half roll. I just cut the Nori in half and made a mini guy. He was delicious.
Each of these honeys cut into about 8. I divided the beautiful bounty into two equal servings, poured out some soy sauce, made up some wasabi (from powder and water) and bingo bango: SUSHI NIGHT WAS UPROARIOUS AND DELICIOUS AND I’M SO FULL AND HAPPY NOW I COULD CRY.
Happy creating! Let me know if you try it, and how it goes for you! I’d love some comments and/or pictures here.