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Make your own Sushi

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published September 15th 2010
The trick to making sushi is getting the rice right - it needs to be sticky, but not so sticky that it's clumpy. Once you've perfected the rice, the rolling - which everyone thinks is the tricky bit - is easy. Then it's down to personal taste as to the ingredients you want to roll in with the rice. And bingozushi, next thing you know you're suddenly able to make one of your favourite dishes at home.

If chiller cabinets are anything to go by there seem to be two most common forms of sushi:
rectangular sushi, which is usually a slice of fish laid across a rectangle of sushi rice. This is called Nigri, or Nigrizushi.
and sushi rolls, which are rice rolled up in dried seaweed, (called nori), with a layer of fillings running though the centre. These are called Maki or Makizushi and are usually sliced before serving.
Of course there are lots of other varieties, but these two basic combinations are all you need to know to start off with, 'cause you can let your culinary genius show in the selection of fillings you use.

Rice may seem the most humble of sushi's ingredients, but there's bound to be a Japanese saying that warns that it's the most humble things that are often the most important. Many supermarkets now sell sushi rice, but they might call it Japanese, or short grained rice. One cup of rice makes about three maki rolls.
Gently wash your rice in running water for a couple of minutes until the water runs clear.
Tip the rice into a pot and add 1 1/4 parts water to every part rice.
Bring the water to the boil stirring every few minutes until it gets there, then lower the heat and let it simmer, allowing the extra water to evaporate off. You shouldn't need to stir the rice now, but you might need to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't get too dry. You should see fat, shiny grains of rice when it's ready after about 10 - 15 minutes.
Use a wooden spoon to get the rice out of the pot - a metal spoon will damage it - then add rice wine vinegar to it right away. Three level tablespoons should about do it. More traditional recipes suggest you add salt and sugar to rice wine vinegar and reduce it all down, but it's not really worth the hassle if you have a decent rice wine vinegar. Let your rice cool a little before you start making your sushi.

This is the one requiring rolling, which takes place within the neat confines of a bamboo mat. The trick with maki is keeping your nori dry, while not letting your rice dry out prematurely. You can use almost anything as a filling, but some favourites are avocado, smoked salmon, fresh tuna marinated in spicy soy sauce, peppers or capsicum, cucumber, cream cheese, crab sticks and flakes of smoked mackerel. Cut everything long and skinny, julienne style.
- Lay your bamboo mat in front of you with the lines running horizontally, then take a sheet of nori and lay it on top with the rough side facing up.
-Take a fist sized amount of sushi rice and put it in the centre of the nori, then flatten it out using the back of a spoon - which you can dip in water if the rice gets too sticky. Flatten the rice out so that it's about one centimetre deep and covers the whole of the nori except for the two centimetres farthest away from you.
- Lay your fillings horizontally onto the rice about three centimetres from the edge closest to you in a little rectangular pile.
- Using the mat edge, roll the rice on top of the fillings, and give them a firm squeeze, then keep rolling bit by bit, making sure you keep the pressure on from all sides. When you get to the bare nori it should meet nori and neatly stick together - if it doesn't now is the time to introduce a bit of water onto the edge - but only do that if it's needed.
- Use a knife dipped in water to cut your roll into six parts.
- Serve with the understated, yet aesthetic, style of the Japanese, offering soy sauce for dipping.

Nigri is even easier to make than maki. This is a really simple dish that's basically a showcase for the fish you use on top of it, so if you're making nigri it's worth putting some work into selecting and preparing your fish, whether that means marinading it or, just buying it fresh on the day. What ever you choose - and tuna, salmon, eel, octopus and flattened king prawns are favourite toppings - it needs to be cut into slices about five centimetres by three, and about one centimetre thick.
- With wet hands, take about a heaped tablespoon of rice and shape it into a rectangle about the length of your thumb and about twice the width and thickness. The bottom should be flat but the top can be rounded.
- Put a pea sized amount of wasabi paste on the bottom of your slice of fish and smear it along the length.
- Lay your fish on top of your rice.
- Repeat. Then present stylishly as above.

Oishii! (Which means delicious.)
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Why? To impress your friends and yourself with your culinary versatility, and to liven up your lunchbox.
Where: In the comfort of your own home
Thanks for this detailed explanation on making the perfect sushi! I love sushi and making it is fun. It's also a good way to use up your leftovers.... - e.g. leftover chicken/meat/etc. It's been years, but last time I made sushi I used leftover teriyaki chicken. So yum. Can't wait to try again following your instructions.
By Ashleigh - senior reviewer
Monday, 29th of November @ 03:33 am
Good point about the leftovers... It's surprising how many different things you can roll in rice and make a meal out of. I've also tried untraditional ingredients like pheasant and beetroot.
By Kat Parr Mackintosh - senior writer
Monday, 29th of November @ 10:33 am
P.S. Not together, I should add...
By Kat Parr Mackintosh - senior writer
Monday, 29th of November @ 10:34 am
This is a really excellent explanation of how to make good sushi. I adore sushi and I could eat so much of it because it never seems to fill me up, and it is not fattening at all I believe.

I bought a rice cooker a while ago and I always make rice in it and eat a bit of tuna and avocado mixed up in it with heaps of soya sauce on the side for that delicious, salty taste.

Thanks for the tips, I am surely going to try and make these, just hope this time it does not backfire on me. Last time they turned out a bit too big and thick, I put too much rice in the seaweed rolls.
By Lil Uni Girl - senior reviewer
Saturday, 1st of January @ 04:49 am
If you have a rice cooker you're already a few steps ahead of me. I promise once you get the rice right the rest is really easy.
By Kat Parr Mackintosh - senior writer
Sunday, 2nd of January @ 06:40 pm
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