I made the horrible error of introducing my wife to the greatness of sushi one day. There was a sushi bar down the road from her apartment in Fort Worth TX. We were dropping up to $70 dollars each dinner for sushi. I decided one night to try and make it myself. We hit up the local Asian market and bought some essentials. A knife, sushi mat. nori( seaweed sheets), you know. STUFF!
Here is what you need for sushi.
Sushi grade rice. Not minute rice but whole grain rice.
Sushi grade tuna steak $8.99 per pound at most
Smoked or raw salmon
Crab like substance (preferably leg type pieces)
Hand fan (Asian or like in church in the south)
Glass or pitcher of ice water as tall as your knife blade
I know it sounds complicated but it really is not hard at all. Most of the odd items only need to be bought once and can be found in an Asian grocery store.
Step 1: THE RICE
Rice prep is quite possibly the single most important step to good sushi.
I wash my rice at least three times before I cook it.
Measure out the rice to be cooked and put it in your cooking vessel. add cold water to cover the rice completely. swirl it around with your hand or rice tool. Pour out the water being careful to not lose rice. Repeat this process until the water runs clear from the vessel.
Your rice is ready to cook. Follow the cooking directions on the package.
After the rice is cooked IMMEDIATELY remove it from the cooking vessel. Put it into your wooden bowl. At this point it is a good idea to turn on your fan and point it at the bowl of rice. Now comes the vinegar. I make 2 cups of rice and that needs about 4 tablespoons of vinegar. ANY vinegar will work for this process. If you wish to do so you may pick up some rice vinegar but I found that this imparts a vinegar flavor to the rice. I use standard white vinegar and it adds ZERO flavor to the rice.
Add the vinegar to the rice and turn it over with a spatula or rice tool a few times to evenly coat the rice but do not break the rice in doing so. Gently is best. The fan will cool the rice and give it a nice sheen at the same time.
A wood bowl is used because with the addition of vinegar, a metal bowl would flavor the rice a metallic flavor. Wood also absorb excess water from the rice.
Set the rice to the side and turn occasionally to allow it to cool.
Step 2: THE VEG (and Fruit) (and Cheese)
All of your veg prep can be done while the rice is cooking.
I like the sweetness and texture of mango so I use it in my sushi. Mango is also very hard to prepare. I am just going to say this, buy a mango cutter at the store. It will save you some serious issues later. I end up cutting mine into strips about as wide as my fingernail on my little finger. Set it onto a plate and put it aside.
Cucumber: We have all seen the sushi master cutting cucumber in a spiral. THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! They are somehow fooling us into thinking they are knife masters or something! ha ha ha.
Find a way to Julienne your cucumber. I cut mine into long strips and then into tiny strips.(Julienne) Set these strips onto your plate of veg and set it aside.
Avocado is awesome. It is also VERY easy to prepare. Hold it vertically with the stem nub up. Insert the sharp edge of your knife (at the midpoint of the blade) and rotate the blade around the avocado until you get back to the starting point. This is done because, unlike an apple or orange, you can not simply cut through an avocado. The seed is too hard. Therefore you must cut around the seed. Separate the two halves and keep the half with the seed in your hand. Hit the seed like a samurai, only not as hard, and then while holding the knife firmly, twist the avocado and free the seed. Throw the seed away unless you want to plant it.
While it is still in the shell you will want to cut it. WITHOUT piercing the skin, draw your knife tip through the avocado lengthwise. You should get three or four cuts. Use a serving spoon and gently dig the avocado out of the skin all the way around. It should come out quite easily. Set in onto the plate and set it aside.
Scallions.......cut with scissors or a knife into little tiny rings of green onion. Put into a tiny ramekin or shot glass and set them aside.
Cream cheese is tricky. If you have ever tried to cut it with a knife then you know it likes to stick to everything. This is where the ice water comes into the mix. Dip the knife blade into the ice water and cut a slice of cream cheese about 1/4 inch thick. Lay it over and cut the slice in half. you now should have two strips of cream cheese 4 inches long and 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch. Dip the knife between each cut and wipe the residue off as needed. PLATE.........set.
Step 3: THE MEAT
If you get your tuna steaks frozen, you will need to thaw them. This takes about 5 minutes. put the wrapped steaks into a bowl and turn on the faucet to allow lukewarm water to run over the fish for a few minutes. It should be thawed soon.
Release the steaks from their plastic prisons and prepare to slice. There are professional methods of slicing tuna and then there is MY method. I cut the tuna into slices about 1/4 inch thick or less. Your tuna steak will be a triangle. I start at the wide end opposite the smallest point and cut it all the way down. Leave no strip behind. Your longer slices, about three inches to two inches, will be used in the sushi. The smaller pieces can be eaten with soy or sriachi or simply straight. Set your tuna on a plate and put it aside.
Crab leg portions. Cut the piece in half lengthwise. VOILA! Crab leg strips. As per the rest of the ible, Set these onto the meat plate and set it aside.
Salmon should already be in slices if it is smoked salmon. If you bought fresh then prepare it just as you did the tuna. PLATE>>>>>ASIDE.
You should be about 15 minutes into your prep at this time.
Step 4: CREATION
You need a dry and flat surface to roll sushi. A sushi mat is essential as well. Clean your knife and get ready to roll.
Your rice should be cool enough to handle at this point. Locate the glass of ice water and add ice if needed. Lay out the sushi mat and place a single sheet of nori on the DRY mat.
Dip your hands in the ice water and shake off the excess. Grab some rice. About the size of a jumbo egg. Possibly a bit more. Spread it evenly along the bottom half of the nori sheet. This will be the base. It needs to be only 1 or 2 rice grains thick. VERY thin layer. Next is adding your ingredients. This can be done as you see fit. There is no set recipe for sushi rolls.
Here are a few of my combos.
Crab, Avocado, Cream cheese.
Tuna, Cream cheese, Scallions.
Tuna, Salmon, Avocado.
Tuna, Salmon, Mango.
Any order you want. Make it how you like it.
Now I know I said anything you like but.....If you just pile it in the middle, you will have a hard time rolling it.
All ingredients should be evenly distributed along the entire roll.
They see me rollin, They hatin.....SORRY!.
Step 5: KEEP ROLLIN ROLLIN ROLLIN
After you have created your ingredient rich slab. It is time to roll it up. I like to compare this process to rolling up a sleeping bag for camping or a winter coat for summer storage. On a much smaller scale of course.
Using your fingers to hold the bits inside you will need to turn the front edge over the ingredients (stuff) and then it is time to tighten. After you have rolled up your stuff you will need to utilize the mat. You will notice a bit of extra nori at the top edge of your roll. Dip a finger in ice water and "paint" the nori edge with the water. This will allow it to stick to the roll. Continue to roll the roll until it has rolled over the nori edge. Now you will need to make sure it is sealed.
There is a scene from the movie The Big Lebowski where Jesus is polishing his bowling ball. This motion will be used by you to tighten and seal your roll. CLICK THE LINK if you are not aware of the motion I am speaking of.
Remove the roll from your mat and set it aside.
Make as many rolls as you have stuff for.
Step 6: FINISH HIM!
Prepare your wasabi per package instructions.
Put your sauces in their little containers and prepare to slice rolls.
Grab a roll and put it on your cutting surface.
Pull your Excalibur knife from it's ice water stone.
Slice your roll in half to make 2 four inch rolls. It is important to NOT saw your rolls but to use a SHARP knife to cut in one slicing motion.
Now turn 1 half of the roll so it is along side the other half. You should be able to get 3 cuts out of the two halves so that each roll gives 8 pieces.
Eat it how you like it. Enjoy spending $15 dollars and getting 6 or 7 rolls. Or go out and drop $6 to $12 dollars per roll at a sushi joint.