How to Make Sushi

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Introduction: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.





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    42 Comments

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

    1 reply
    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 :)

    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.

    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.

    1 reply

    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).

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

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

    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.

    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!
    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

    Looks remarkably delicious..haha

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

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

    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.

    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!

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

    1 reply

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

    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.

    1 reply

    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 :)