Reading through a sushi recipe can feel like a list of things that can go horribly wrong. The rice needs to be soft and fluffy, it needs to be not too sweet and not too sour, and we haven't even gotten to the fish yet.
How do sushi chefs make it look so quick and easy?
It comes down to some simple ingredients, some knife knowledge, and knowing how to control the heat of the food for safely consuming raw fish. If you can make a sandwich, you can make sushi. It's just a little different in the order of how it's shaped, but it still features carbs, protein, and vegetables.
This recipe is for two to four people, depending on your appetite, and sushi doesn't need very much rice. Brown and long-grain white rice won't do in a pinch, but Jasmine short-grain sushi rice is inexpensive. The grains are a bit smaller and they have a stickier consistency.
Rinse the rice until the rinse water runs clear. Boil the 2 cups of water in a small pot, then add the rice. Stir it for a couple of minutes while at a rapid boil, then cover, and put it on the lowest heat possible for your stove, so it gently simmers without boiling over. If you're using a rice cooker, follow the instructions on the rice cooker.
This type of rice takes between 12 and 15 minutes to reach the perfect state to fluff. While waiting for the rice to cook, slice up your favorite sushi topping (we'll talk about that next). When the rice has simmered for 12 minutes, slip a fork under the cover quickly and taste a few grains.
The rice should have no crunch remaining, and it should be sticky enough for a soft sushi filling, without being too overcooked and mushy.
Once the rice is done, transfer it to a cool bowl (a refrigerated glass or metal bowl works best). Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, this is your second time to work on slicing vegetables and fish. Sprinkle just a tablespoon of white sugar, and the same amount of rice vinegar, into the rice. Toss gently, just until it's mixed.
Congratulations! You've already completed the hardest part.
Vegetables and Fillings
Just about anything can go in sushi - these days it's a favorite even for people who don't care for fish. Three great ingredients to start with are carrots, cucumbers, and avocado. You'll only need one of each. Use a ceramic vegetable peeler for the carrots and cucumber, then slice them in half with a chef knife.
Use a spoon to scoop the seeds out of the center of the cucumber, then slice it and the carrot into thin sticks. For the avocado, slice around the center of the pit with a kitchen knife or paring knife. Twist the sides apart, then use the kitchen knife to cut a row of thin slices into the avocado flesh while it is still in its shell. Then take a large soup spoon, and scoop out the slices.
Here are some of our other favorite sushi fillings you could try:
- Cream Cheese
- Mangos or strawberries for a sweet twist
Choosing and Slicing Fish for Sushi
Not all sushi is alike. If the thought of serving raw fish in your kitchen sounds a bit unsafe, have no fear. You're in the safest place you can be to keep it fresh and cool. You can also make a vegetarian sushi, or use a cooked variety of fish like smoked salmon or cooked eel, shrimp, or squid. Some people even like some tender beef or chicken on their sushi - an affront to purists, but possible and very delicious.
The key to great raw fish is in the temperature and the knives. It's not recommended to ever consume raw fish that has been previously frozen. Select a fillet or two that are between 6 and 8 ounces each, mixing and matching from salmon, tuna, yellowtail, albacore, or sea bass. Put it directly in the refrigerator upon returning from the market.
Our wide array of sushi knives includes precise shapes and sizes for slicing your sushi and sashimi in exactly the same way. For this simple recipe, we'll be using thin slices of fish that will be draped over the finished roll before slicing. Using a sushi knife, slice against the grain of the fish, and create thin, flexible slices that are about 3 inches long and an inch wide.
Cover and put on ice or in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it, even if it's only a few minutes.
For more ways to slice different shapes of fish for sushi and Sashimi, we enjoyed this article about it over at Secrets of Sushi.
Rolling it All Up
Don't panic! If you've got your rice at room temperature, your fish and veggies chopped, and a pack of nori wraps ready to go, you're almost done. On a sushi roller or large paper towel, lay out a sheet of nori. Spread a thin layer of rice gently over the nori, leaving two inches on the far end so it has room to seal.
Lay your ingredients like a little woodpile in a straight line near the other end, then roll. Don't worry if some bit fall out the ends - even the pros have odd ends when they slice their sushi.
Finally, use a sushi knife with a wide blade to slice through the roll. If any sticky rice gets caked up on the knife between slices, just run it under some hot water or wipe it off with a clean, hot rag. Place the slices on a plate, and enjoy!
What You'll Need to Make Stellar Sushi
1 cup Jasmine short-grain white sushi rice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 sheets of dried nori for sushi
1 medium carrot
1 medium cucumber
1 medium avocado
8 - 12 ounces of salmon, smoked or fresh
Bamboo sushi rolling mat
Sides and sauces:
This sushi is best served traditionally, with soy sauce and wasabi, and some pickled ginger to clear the palette once you've enjoyed it all. If you wish to get fancier, you can drizzle your sushi with eel sauce, oyster sauce, a spicy mustard sauce, or some sriracha cream cheese sauce.