Swedish environmentalist and freelance writer living in Perth.
Published May 14th 2012
I like Sushi in a kind of superficial way. I enjoy eating it from time to time, but I am certainly not a sushi connoisseur. Hence, it does not make much of a difference to me whether I get my little rice bundles at a fancy restaurant or from the local fast food place, usually I find them quite tasty with some wasabi and soy either way.
I am also not that much of a cook. Well, I do cook and quite frequently it turns out okay - but it is not like I am about to enter Masterchef, if we put it that way. I guess you could say I have my set collection of successful dishes - including spaghetti bolognese (the secret is cream), baked salmon with fresh pasta and chicken drumsticks with potato gratin (again, cream – lots of it). All very tasty, though maybe not so refined dishes.
That said, I think it will come as no surprise when I tell you I have never considered making my own sushi. Never ever. That is, until I met this inspiring Belgian (yes, from the country in Europe, not some remote Japanese village) sushi lover. And so it happened, one fine Saturday evening I learnt how to make sushi. And here´s the secret (no, not cream) it is easy.
I will tell you this. Anyone can make sushi. You just need to get some stuff first. This should pose no problem (or serve as any valid excuse) - enter any of the local Asian stores and there you´ll find everything you need to get you started, which is:
Sushi rice (very simple, it will say sushi rice on the bag). Sushi vinaigrette (same with that – just read the label). Sushi nori which is pressed sheets of dried seaweed. This is the "black stuff" which is around the sushi bundles. Commonly sold in packs of 10. A sushi rolling mat. My friend already already had this device and she told me she had picked it up at Woolworths. I am quite sure though that they´ll have it in any of the Asian shops – just ask.
Soy (any that you like will do just fine). Wasabi (this you can buy as a powder in a small can and then just mix it with water according to the directions). Sushi Ginger (commonly sold in a glass bottle). Not completely necessary I guess, but it is really tasty and is supposed to be eaten between the different pieces of sushi in order to cleanse your palette.
Then of course, you´ll need something other than rice to put in your sushi. Traditional beginners' vegetables could be cucumber and avocado (is that maybe actually a fruit?).
Then you might like fish and the important thing here is to remember you can´t use just any fish - but you´ll need special sushi fish. This is also easy enough though as my friend told me sushi fish can be bought fresh from any fish shop. You just ask for sushi fish and they´ll show you what they have. Just remember that the fish needs to be fresh so you should buy it the same day as you have decided to embark upon your sushi making adventure.
Now if this fish thing has slightly put you off as you´ll need to find a fish shop and it needs to be fresh and well, it just makes everything so much more difficult – don´t worry, there´s a solution to everything. As a beginner sushi maker you´ll be quite alight with smoked salmon and some tuna from a can. That is what we used on my learning session and it tasted great.
Well then. You got everything you need? Then, let´s make some sushi!
First off you need to cook the rice (we did this in the microwave, but I am sure you can just as well do it on the stove – just follow the directions on the bag). Then the rice needs to cool off for a while – spread it on a plate as shown on the photo. Then mix some sushi vinaigrette into the rice. It should become "suitable" - sticky and acquire a slight taste. My friend did this kind off by touch, but there are also instructions on the bottle.
While the rice cools off, you could prepare the vegetables. Cut them in elongated rods as shown on the photo.
Then, it is time to start using the sushi mat (this is the fun part)! Put a sushi nori on the mat and spread out a not to thick layer of rice on the nori, then add whatever ingredients you like -I guess avocado and salmon would be a classic one to start off with. You need to put the stuff as shown on this picture:
Then it is time to roll. But before you start make sure to put some water on the farthest end of the nori, as this will make it stick better and keep your sushi roll together. Then, using the mat, and applying a quite firm pressure, roll. See picture:
That´s it. Now you just need to cut your sushi roll in pieces. In order to do this, you should wet the blade of the knife before cutting as it makes the rice stick less to the knife and instead stay where it should be.
Finally make a nice presentation of your sushi. Take out your chopsticks, and enjoy!