Making sushi at home is loads of fun, although it's slow going at first. This is one cuisine that takes a lot of practice, but it's well worth the effort. Insofar as ingredients go, it's easy to make sushi in your own home, plus you really have the opportunity to experiment. Before you get started, or at least before you become a pro, there are certain techniques you need to perfect. Don't wait to get started, though! Just check out the following tips and then get ready to start making sushi at home!
1. Study the Different Rolls
If you're interested in making sushi at home, you have to familiarize yourself with all the different rolls first, because the techniques you use depend on what you make. If you eat a lot of sushi, you're at least passingly familiar, but ordering your favorites aren't quite the same as making them. There's Maki-zushi, which is simply rolled; Futomaki-zushi, which is thicker and contains any number of fillings; Hosomaki-zushi, which is thinner and only contains one filling; and with these three rolls, the Nori is wrapped around the ingredients. With inside-out sushi rolls, the rice is outside but the ingredients are inside, and there's generally flakes of tempura, roe, or sesame seeds on the outside as well. Nagiri is sushi where the rice is formed by hand and topped with seafood or fish. Temaki are rolls or cones of hand formed sushi wherein Nori wraps up the ingredients. Sashimi doesn't use rice, only raw seafood or fish. Chirashi-zushi is a scattered form of sushi with the ingredients – usually raw fished, sliced up, accompanied by vegetables – placed over the rice. Other types of wrapped up sushi use tofu pouches or similar wraps in place of Nori and molded sushi is, of course, molded into different shapes.
2. You Need Good Knives
Much of your technique depends on the knives. You need several, but they all have one thing in common: they have to be sharp. You'll need a good chef's knife, a very sharp fish knife, and a vegetable knife that makes it easy for you to peel, slice, and chop your vegetables. It wouldn't hurt to simply buy a good set of sushi knives.
3. Get the Right Equipment
Your equipment matters as well. While any kind of bowls or plates will do, remember that, with sushi, presentation is everything, so choose something aesthetically pleasing. You'll also need a cutting board and a colander. Specific to sushi, you'll definitely want a good rice cooker because, as you'll see, consistency is crucial. You'll also want a rolling mat for your rice and a handy supply of plastic wrap. You can either use a wooden spoon or an actual rice paddle, but the wood is the important bit. In fact, try to use a wooden bowl for all of your rice.
4. Managing Your Food
Sushi tastes best when you use fresh ingredients. You no doubt know how to look for the freshest vegetables, whether you like avocado or cucumber. When you're buying fish or seafood for your sushi, however, you have to pick the freshest pieces. Stick with fillets, not steaks, because they're easier to slice and shape. Make sure your fish and seafood are vibrant; don't buy anything that looks dull. Don't choose anything slimy or smelly either – that means your fish isn't its freshest. When you're slicing your vegetables and other ingredients, make sure all the slivers are manageable – and stick to slivers, not big chunks.
5. Making Marvelous Maki
Learning how to roll your sushi takes a lot of practice, but most people find that maki is the most difficult. You'll have to practice, but there are some techniques to follow before you get started. For instance, don't use too much rice or too many ingredients; your rolls will likely fall apart. With your rice, especially, don't spread more than a quarter of an inch over your Nori. If you're still having trouble keeping your maki closed, try moistening the edges of the Nori with water.
6. Sticky Rice is Vital
Your rice is so important. Cooking it is an art, which is why a rice cooker is such a huge necessity. Remember that there are professional sushi chefs who have to train for years just to perfect their rice. Go with a short-grain rice when you're purchasing your sushi rice. You always need to rinse your rice before you cook it; this gets rid of any powders. After the initial rinse, place your rice in a sieve with a very fine mesh, then rinse again, using cold water. You need to do this until the water that drains off the rice is mostly clear. Only then are you ready to cook it.
7. The Secret to Seasonings
Don't forget to season your sushi rice either. Shari-zu is the absolute best blend. All you need is rice vinegar, salt, and sugar, but make sure the vinegar itself is unseasoned. You drizzle the mixture over the rice after it's fully cooked and all the clumps are gone. You have to be careful as you mix it in, however, because you don't want to crush the grains. By the bye, if you're making two cups of raw rice, then you'll need 4 tablespoons of vinegar, 8 teaspoons of the sugar, and just 1 teaspoon of salt.
8. Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'
As briefly mentioned, most people run into trouble when they're rolling their sushi. Again, it definitely takes practice and you never want to use too much rice or fillings. You should start with just half a sheet of your Nori and very gently spread rice over it – but remember, no more than a quarter of an inch, and less is fine! Make sure it's even. If you keep to a minimal aesthetic and your rice is appropriately sticky, you'll have a much easier time.
I love making sushi at home! It's less expensive than going out to a sushi house, although that's a singularly delicious treat. I also don't have to worry about the ingredients I don't like; I can tailor everything to my own preferences, which is awesome. Besides, even when your rolls look messy, they still taste amazing! Do you ever make sushi at home? If you've got your own tips, I'd love to hear them!