Introduction: How to Make Sushi

Picture of How to Make Sushi

You can enjoy nigiri sushi at home with these simply tips to make your own sushi!  Of course, there is something extraordinary about sushi made by a professional sushi chef.  However, there is a very simple method for anyone to make delicious sushi at home.  
It all depends on your quality of fish (or veg) and one easy technique for forming the rice (that I'm going to show you). 
Other than that, you can customize your nigiri to your heart's content.  It certainly doesn't need to be limited to raw fish - steamed fish, tofu, vegetables, and even other meats make for great sushi.  I've even seen BBQ chicken nigiri on a menu.  So don't let your fear of making sushi stop you any longer.


Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients
Use whatever sashimi-grade fish you can get your hands on that suits your taste.

It's not easy to find sashimi-grade fish unless you live near a Japanese market. 
Most supermarkets and fishmongers will not carry this grade of fish.
Some grocers will care "sushi grade" fish, which has undergone deep freezing, intended to kill bacteria.

If you aren't fortunate enough to live somewhere that sashimi grade fish is available, either cook your fish or research more on the freezing process to remove parasites.

You can also purchase sashimi grade fish online.  Here's just one highly reputable vendor for example: Catalina Offshore. They even carry some harder-to-find items, like abalone, uni, and monkfish liver!


I used:
  • Maguro (tuna)
  • Hirame (fluke or halibut)
  • Hamachi (yellowtail or amberjack)
  • Tamago (sweet omelet)
You'll also need to prepare sushi rice:
  • Short grain rice - white or brown
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Sugar
Additional ingredients include:
  • Wasabi
  • Soy Sauce
Optional ingredients include:
  • Nori (seaweed sheets)  (typically used, but I don't like it, so I didn't use it)
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Tobiko or Masago (fish eggs)
  • Sesame Seeds

Step 2: Make Rice

Picture of Make Rice
Preparing rice is something that everyone has their own take on. 

Do you rinse your rice in three changes of clean water? 
Let it soak for half an hour before cooking? 
Do you use a pot or a rice cooker? 
Do you add salt and butter?  Konbu?
Or do you add hot water to dry rice and let it absorb on its own, adding no additional heat source?

These are all acceptable techniques.  I would recommend skipping the butter and salt when making sushi rice.  What you want is a nice big pot of short grained rice*.  Either brown or white is fine.

The important part is what you add to your rice. 

For 3 cups of cooked rice:

Add
  • 2 Tbsps sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
to
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
Stir together and let cool.  Spreading the rice out and placing in front of a fan will supposedly give it a nice shiny look.  I don't have a fan, so I don't know. I always stick it in the fridge.


*Japanese rice is short grain rice and gets sticky when it is cooked. Long grain rice isn't proper for sushi because it is drier and doesn't stick together well.


Step 3: Tamago

Picture of Tamago
Tamago has to be my favorite sushi.  I always save it for last, because its sweetness fills in as my "dessert sushi."  It's definitely not for everybody.

This is by no means meant to be a professional guide to making tamago (else it would be it's own Instructable, like this one!), since I don't have a proper pan or tools, and had never even attempted it before this time.  But this will show you how to make a reasonable sweet omelet to slice and use for sushi.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 spoons of mirin
  • 2 spoons of soy sauce
  • 2 spoons of sugar
Typically, a square pan is used, but my regular fry pan worked just fine for me.

Combine the ingredients for form the tamago batter.


Technique:


Oil your pan and cover it with a thin layer of tamago batter.

After 2-3 min, when the bottom of the omelet gets brownish, use a kitchen spoon to fold the omelet twice. First from the closer end towards the middle, and second towards the far end of the pan.

There's no need to flip the omelet, just fold it. Even if the upper side of the omelet seems uncooked before folding, the "inner layers" of the omelet will get done by the end of the process.

Lightly oil the pan again and add another round of tamago batter. The batter you have just added should touch the omelet you folded in the last step.  Mine totally did, but it still tasted good.

Repeat steps 2-3, until you run out of tamago batter.

Cut into strips.  (sorry I missed that picture!)


Step 4: Prepare Fish

Picture of Prepare Fish

If you wish to cook your fish or other toppings, now is the time.
Cook fish, veg, or other meat to suit your tastes.
Steamed asparagus makes surprisingly good nigiri!

Next step: sharpen your knife!!!

And finally, slice toppings into even strips.

Step 5: Shape Rice

Picture of Shape Rice
The secret to perfectly shaped rice is the air pocket in the middle. 

Professionally made sushi had a subtle fluffy quality to the rice that can be quickly destroyed by too heavy a hand when making it at home.  This simple technique is your guide to perfectly formed sushi rice every time. 
  • Wet your hands in vinegar-water and place a small amount (~20g) of sushi rice into the palm of your hand.
  • Pinch the rice together using your thumb and forefinger.
  • Using your other thumb, hold in place and lightly apply pressure to form the shape.

That's it!  It may take a couple tries to perfect, but once you do, your guests will swear you trained in Ginza. 

Top your rice with wasabi to suit your tastes and hold your neta (toppings) in place.

Step 6: Marry Fish to Rice

Picture of Marry Fish to Rice

To make a perfectly formed piece of nigiri, cover the rice with the topping of your choice.

Use the same trick you learned in Step 5 to add a bit of pressure so the topping fits neatly onto the rice.

Turn 180 degrees and repeat one last time to adjust its shape.

Finally, if adding a wrap of nori (dried seaweed), consider using a grain of rice at the edge to hold it together like glue.

Enjoy!


Step 7: A Final Note

Picture of A Final Note

For everyone who has concerns about the safety of eating raw fish:

There's good stuff and bad stuff about it.  If you're pregnant or nursing, don't do it.  Don't feed it to your baby, young children or the elderly.  People with compromised immune systems or liver disease - stay away.  It probably contains mercury* (esp. tuna and swordfish), so don't overdo it.  No, cooking will not remove the mercury.  There is a very tiny chance that parasites can be passed on via raw fish.  If you're concerned, cook the fish or else freeze it at least three days, though neither of these methods are guaranteed to prevent parasites. If you suffer pains within 12 hours of eating raw fish, go to the hospital.

The good stuff is that sushi is a relatively low-calorie, low-fat, nutrient-dense meal, which can provide you with extra vitamins, complex carbs from the rice (bonus fiber and whole grains for brown rice!), a great source of protein, and healthful omega-3 fats.  Many countries have strict guidelines on what can be defined as "sushi grade" fish which may entail special deep freezing, intended to kill any bacteria present.

And remember, you can still enjoy sushi without the raw fish.  Be creative!


* According to the Food and Drug Administration, one week's consumption (<12oz)  doesn’t change the level of methylmercury in the body much at all.





Comments

TheBlackSharpie (author)2010-01-04

Is there is a certain way i should prepare shrimp for this recapie? In most sushi bars the shrimp is wider than usual.

Great question! I don't like shrimp, so  I skipped right over it, but I bet a lot of people will be wondering the same.

This is what you do to get the shrimp you see in sushi bars:
  • Wash shrimp, remove head and de-vein. 
  • Boil in salted water for a couple minutes.
  • Remove the vein on belly side of shrimp and score along this line to flatten it.  That's what makes it so wide!
Good luck and happy eating :)
Daniel Zf (author)2013-07-11

Oi, thanks for showing ho to make the "egg tortilla" i've been wondering how to make them and they seem easier than i've seen somehere else.

SushiNut (author)2012-02-19

You can always checkout http://www.sushinut.com to find sushi grade fish to be shipped to your house.  They offer lower shipping charges than Catalina, and have a lot of the same products.  If you order over $119, you get free overnight shipping.

brumblebug (author)SushiNut2012-03-05

I concur, you guys are awesome, best crab I've ever had and your salmon is good enough to rub all over my body. (disclaimer: I don't work for them, I'm a customer who thinks sushinut is tha shizzle).

geek373 (author)2010-03-06

 that is actually called sushimi...

schumi23 (author)geek3732012-02-03

No, that is sushi. You are probably thiking about Maki, which are the rolls. (Sashimi is just plain raw fish)

vlad flame (author)geek3732010-08-13

do you mean sashimi? which refers to raw fish...

deqwer (author)2011-08-10

slicing sushi has it unique cutting technique basically there are three cutting technique.
The most common one is place the knife on the left side of the fish fillet and slice down to the right side in one cut,when you are slicing it drag the knife a little.

masynmachien (author)2010-01-13
Tamago (as it is commonly refered to in Japanese restaurants) is also my daughters favourite. After some trying I got it to a level which my daughter claims is just as good as in the better restaurants and even better than some others ;-)
 
on 4 eggs:
-1 eating spoon (soup spoon) rice vinegar
-2,5 teaspoons Cassonade sugar (a very smooth type of light brown sugar, but please try your own)
-2,5 teaspoons mirin
-1 teaspoon light soy sauce
 
 You can indeed make it any good frying pan, I have been doing it for a couple of years. But I recently got a real Japanese tamago square pan for my 42,5 birthday. And I must say it does make difference. I even managed to make a 10 egg tamago roll without it breaking up or losing its regular shape. If it is your favourite type of sushi, spread around it is on your wish list!
masynmachien (author)2010-01-13
Great Instructable,
 
I love sushi and love to make it myself. I have even been given a couple of workshops to teach friends how to make it. It is great fun.
 
I like the fact that you keep it simple. Cooking books on Japanese cuisine tend to overcomplicate things and while it might be tricky to duplicate a real sushi chef it is not hard to make very tasty stuff that comes quite close to the original.
 
What I do want to share on making it easier is the following: use sushi rice! It really makes a difference. With that I mean rice that is sold to be used in sushi. You can find it in Delhaize and some other general supermarkets. Follow the instructions on the package for the amount of water and cooking time. Really simple
 
I have tried other sticky rice, but that did not give the the right stickiness and taste. And although I generaly prefer brown:whole rice, I wouldn’t know how to get it sticky enough.
 
masynmachien aka sushimonster
Jane Huang (author)2010-01-12

Looks remarkably delicious..haha

Freak_09 (author)2010-01-09

Don't you mean "Tamagoyaki"?. "Tamago" alone means "egg", "Tamagoyaki" is the proper name for this dish and stands for "fried egg".

Mr. Brownie (author)2010-01-09

I love monk fish liver! Any way, try cutting along the muscle sometime of the salmon. It tastes good in my opinion

pyrocreep (author)2010-01-08

Pretty good guide for a beginer to follow. I've been working at a sushi resturaunt (Not an amazing one I'll admit, but your not going to get sick there) for the last 4 months now. There are some other things, like cutting you could probably do an entire turorial on, but I like it none the less.

RavingMadStudios (author)2010-01-08

Hooray!!!! Every time I've made sushi at home, the rice never came out quite right. Now I know what I've been doing wrong. Thank you for the great Instructable!

Stephen D. Alverez (author)2010-01-05

 I love sushi, but I can't trust myself, I'll probably get some strange disease like detritus!  I:P

That would be strange, if detritus was a disease :p

thefiftyfootwoman (author)2010-01-07

Nice and clear tutorial!  However, I want to comment on  sashimi versus sushi "grade" fish.  All fish intended to be consumed raw must be deep frozen: http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm077331.htm
The so-called grading is inconsistent and more marketing than anything.

I was surprised when I first learned this, but essentially most so-called "fresh" fish in the U.S. have been flash-frozen. Disappointing to some, but consider that many fish--wild salmon for example--have parasites which can be transferred to humans during raw consumption unless the flesh is frozen, first.

In Canada as well. 'deep frozen' in my earlier comment should have read flash frozen.. Thanks for the link :)

I generally don`t serve raw fish when making sushi for others at home to avoid any problems. There are a wide variety of cold and hot smoked fish available as well as some delicacies like smoked eel which make for excellent "safe" sushi :)

Great information to have!

bencreative (author)2010-01-07

Hey there scoochmaroo,

having worked as a sushi chef and undergone a year of training I thought I would add some comments throughout your article :)

scoochmaroo (author)bencreative2010-01-07

That's awesome, thank you!!

bencreative (author)2010-01-07

when cooking prawns a bamboo skewer can be inserted under the legs and carapice (not into the flesh) from head to tail before boiling. This straightens them out and makes cutting easier.

bencreative (author)2010-01-07

sushi grade fish in Canada must be deep frozen ( less than or equal to -40 degrees celcius) for 3 weeks before it can be sold as sushi grade.

no your home freezer will not do this...

The boats that deep sea fishermen use often deep freeze the fish while out fishing... so if you buy direct from them the fish will already be deep frozen, you can ask for how long.

Tuna is the only fish that can be eaten raw straight out of the water, although cutting it is a nightmare if it is not frozen.. thus Tuna is frozen and then slowly thawed out just enough to cut into sections then re-frozen in strips until needed.

But if you can buy a tuna steak somewhere it is likely ok to eat raw, depending on how much you trust the person selling it to have kept it out of contact with anything that may contaminate it (ie other fish.)

bencreative (author)2010-01-07

rice shaping is a technique that takes a lot of time to learn to do properly, it will take to much time to explain so I`ll take some pictures the next time I make sushi.

It involves doing a lot of the job with one hand and only uses the other hand for final touches.

while preparing the rice the piece of fish is picked up in the other hand and dangled over the inside of the fingers held between the thumb and index finger. Wasabi is applied with the tip of a finger of the opposite hand (the one with the rice) and then the rice is pressed into the fish the fingers giving it a nice convex shape. The nigiri is then held lenthwise between the thumb and index fingers and the fish is smothed out and beutified before being arranged on the serving plate.

bencreative (author)2010-01-07

when cutting fish for nigiri I recommend lightly placing your fingers on top of the piece or are cutting off and slicing a thin strip diagonally with the blade at about a 15 degree angle to the cutting surface.

similar to your third photo but flip the fish around and place your fingers on the piece you are cutting off.

cutting fish requires an extremely sharp knife, high carbon steel and not stainless steel are best as they can be sharpened easier to a finer quality edge. A knife that is not sharp enough will stick in the fish or even tear instead of cutting, it will also cause problems when cutting rolled sushi as it will not cut the nori properly.

bencreative (author)2010-01-07

I rince my rice 3 times while lightly scrubbing it between my hands under running water and use a rice cooker. Uncoated aluminum inserts are best for rice cookers as they are less likely to burn the rice but mine is a coated version and works fine. Water measurement in the rice cooker takes some getting used to as it involves measuring the amount of water above the level of the rice. It is basically the distance from the tip of your index finger to your first nuckle but it depends on each individuals finger. I let the rice sit in the rice cooker set at warm for 30 minutes or more after the cooking cycle has finished to help remove exess moisture.

cooling the rice is very important and I use rubbermaid bins to divide the rice into two equal parts, breaking it up and spreading it out in order to cool it faster. I also place the containers under my stove top fan.

Once the rice has cooled (still warm but no longer steaming) I add a mixture of rice wine vinegar and mirin (1 tablespoon mirin to 1 cup rice wine vinegar.) I never use salt, butter or sugar.

your ratio of 1/3rd of a cup of liquid to 3 cups rice is probably fine, I always go by feel and taste adding a little at a time by sprinkling the liquid over the rice and then mixing it and letting it cool more before tasting.

Sashimilover (author)2010-01-06

Isn't it requirement to serve sushi/sashimi at no higher than 40 degree F, and if the dish does not meet this requirement should be rejected at a restaurant - i.e. respectable restaurants would adhere to this requirement, but how would a person ordering at a restaurant politely be able to bring up the issue and verify it with the restaurant?

Making such a dish at home should probably include testing this requirement to be on the safe side - shouldn't it?  What food thermometer is appropriate?

hishealer (author)2010-01-05

;p~~~~~ I just noticed my shoes are wet with all my drool.   I love this stuff, and it is fun to make even with the wraps.  I always make them too big, then end up peeling the fish off the rice and eating them seperately... but there's another name for the fish alone that I forgot. ;p~~~~~

scoochmaroo (author)hishealer2010-01-05

Sashimi is the fish served alone or with rice.
Chirashi is my favorite, which is typically a bowl of rice topped with assorted sashimi (sometimes including tamago!)

rattyrain (author)2010-01-05

You didn't really specify a temperature for cooking the omelet; can I assume that there is nothing special about the technique other than what is specified?  Nonetheless, 5/5!!!!

scoochmaroo (author)rattyrain2010-01-05

Thanks for the rating!

I would recommend checking out that tamago link for a really tight presentation on it.  Otherwise, I just kept the heat pretty low, which I usually do for cooking eggs.  Keeps them from getting dried out too fast, but you have to be patient!

lemonie (author)2010-01-05

Another super presentation, If I hadn't eaten already...

L

scoochmaroo (author)lemonie2010-01-05

Thank you!

Romado12187 (author)2010-01-05

where do you get the fish from..? You wouldn't go into a fish market and ask for salmon and use it as a piece of sake, right?

scoochmaroo (author)Romado121872010-01-05

Great question!
No, as I mentioned, you definitely need to find "sashimi grade" or "sushi grade" fish. 

Most supermarkets and fishmongers will not carry this grade of fish.

Look for Japanese markets who often carry clearly marked "sashimi grade" fish.

Also, as I mention in step 7, some grocers will care "sushi grade" fish, which has undergone deep freezing, intended to kill bacteria.

If you aren't fortunate enough to live somewhere that sashimi grade fish is available, either cook your fish or research more on the freezing process to remove parasites.

You can also purchase sashimi grade fish online.  Here's just one highly reputable vendor for example: Catalina Offshore. They even carry some harder-to-find fish!

Best of luck, and thanks again for your comment!

quinault (author)2010-01-05

I have a plastic craft which can make sushi perfectly equal. But I still feel bare hand makes a better taste.

ecarrilloalbarran (author)2010-01-04

Great 'ible', will try soon, and let you know how it went

mbudde (author)2010-01-04

I'll have to try this again, I could never get the hang of this. You make it look so easy!

scoochmaroo (author)mbudde2010-01-04

Thanks!  Good luck.  Remember, even if it doesn't look pretty, it probably still tastes good :D

mbudde (author)scoochmaroo2010-01-04

Not when you accidentally add way too much vinegar...

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