There’s nothing more quintessential when it comes to Japanese food than sushi, so being a bit of a foodie, I just had to try making it for myself.
It’s a common misconception that sushi means raw fish. This food is actually named after its accompaniment – vinegared rice – so when making it, that’s the best place to start. You need to ensure you’re using sushi rice, as this is good and sticky to make sure it doesn’t fall apart while you’re trying to eat it. Once it’s cooked, mixed with vinegar and ready to mould, the best way I was taught to do this was to wear a pair of plastic gloves and cover them in mayonnaise – this stops the rice sticking to you, rather than other rice!
Secondly, make sure your fish is really fresh; bear in mind you’re eating it raw. Cutting the fish is an art in itself – in fact, you can get special super-sharp Japanese knives specially for preparing fish for sushi and sashimi. But with some instructions on which bit of the fillet you need (different parts are used for different types of sushi), you can give it a good go. I say my sushi is a bit rustic!
Once your rice, fish and other flavourings are ready to go, you can start putting together your sushi. There are several types to choose from:
- Nigiri – rice with topping
- Maki – thin rice-filled rolls, covered in seaweed (nori)
- Uramaki – inside-out rolls, with the rice on the outside, sometimes covered in seeds or fish eggs
- Gunkan – rice wrapped in nori with topping
- Temaki – hand rolls
- Sashimi – technically not sushi as it doesn’t come with rice, this is slices of raw fish
With nigiri, this is as simple as adding a topping to a cuboid of rice, sticking it on with wasabi, ginger or your other favourite flavours. For the others, it’s time to roll – this is my favourite part. On top of a bamboo mat, layer up your sushi, rice first for uramaki, nori first for the others, leaving a thin section of the bottom layer exposed on the side furthest from you. My advice is to be careful not to overfill, tempting as it may be! Then slowly, lift your mat and roll so your sushi starts to stick together, applying pressure where needed. Hopefully, you should end up with a long cylinder, or cone for temaki. For the cylinders, remove the mat and then you can slice it into bitesize portions. And you’re done!
The process itself sounds simple, but I definitely found my first attempts was not as neat and tidy as I’d like – but as I said, it’s rustic, and frankly any friends I’ve served it to have been impressed it’s made from scratch at all.
If you’ve a penchant for Asian food like me, why not give sushi-making a go on Trafalgar’s Splendours of Japan trip. Or join its Splendours of Japan with Hiroshima itinerary, which includes an authentic dinner and stay at a monastery inn in Mt. Koya.