How to make sushi at home
November 9, 2006 8:11 PM   Subscribe

How can we make sushi?

My friends and I want to make some sushi this weekend and are looking for some hints/tips. We prefer rolls and will probably buy some tuna, salmon and possibly one other kind of fish. I need some other advice on how to cook the rice, recipes, fish buying tips, etc.
posted by elvissa to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

there are gazillions of pages here:
posted by bunglin jones at 8:24 PM on November 9, 2006

Making sushi at home is a lot of fun. My friends have had sushi parties which are a great way to experiment. Basically, I prepared all the sushi rice in advance then we cut up all the fish and other ingredients and set it out on the counter for people to combine on their own. We included all kinds of unusual stuff beyond the regular avocado and cucumber like grilled pineapple and enoki mushrooms.

I definitely suggest going to a good fishmonger if you have one in your area and ask him what he recommends. One tip, get fish from the belly if you can as sections closer to the tail are not as tender since they do all the work. It's always good to get the basics: crab (real, which I prefer or immitation) salmon, tuna, a whitefish of some sort then go from there. Also, you will most likely end up w/ way more food than people are hungry for since making your own takes a while and the rice can be filling.

Oh and don't forget plenty of sake! Have fun!
posted by lannanh at 8:26 PM on November 9, 2006

To cook the rice, you’ll want to soak it and then rinse it well beforehand, then boil 2 cups rice in 2 cups water for about 20 minutes, then let it sit covered for 10 minutes.

While it’s cooking, mix 4.5 tbsp rice vineger, 4 tsp salt, and 2 tsp sugar. This mixture is used to season the rice. After the rice has rested, you’ll fold this mixture into the rice with a wooden spatula, being careful not to break the grains. Be sure that the rice is not in a metal container once you've mixed it with the vinegar seasoning.

To make the rolls, lay out a piece or nori onto your bamboo mat, and cover it with a thin layer of rice, leaving about a half-inch edge uncovered. The rice will be very sticky. It’s helpful to have a bowl of water nearby to rinse your spatula and hands continually. A bit of rice vinegar added to the water helps.

Now, simply lay some fillings on the rice, parallel to the uncovered edge, but on the opposite end. Then roll the nori up, using the flexibility and stability of the bamboo mat to keep it in shape, and seal the roll with a bit of the water/vineger rinse at the bare edge.
posted by ijoshua at 8:26 PM on November 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sushi is much easier than you might think. Most sushi rice jars have a recipe on the back and I've had a lot of success with that. The only hard part is making the rolls come out nicely.

On buying fish: if you are worried, you can use cooked fish. If you live on the coast, hitting the fish markets on Sunday morning can be a good plan. Also try Japanese grocery stores for sushi-quality fish.

Other tips: Make sure you spread the rice to the edges of the roll (near the end of the roll). Don't cover more than a third of the nori with rice. Roll tightly. Spread the rice with a piece of saran wrap. Those little sushi rolling mats and paddles aren't necessary. Don't put in too much rice or filling or it will fall apart; a little goes a long way. Put the filling in the middle of the rice. Wet the edge of the nori to seal it. Most people swear by cutting it with a wet knife; I haven't noticed a difference myself. Don't touch the vinegared rice to metal.
posted by phoenixy at 8:35 PM on November 9, 2006

I should also mention that your local grocery store probably carries sushi making kits, which would include one or two bamboo mats, a wooden spatula, and a small booklet that contains instructions and recipes.
posted by ijoshua at 8:35 PM on November 9, 2006

If you're looking to use raw fish, you should try to buy sushi grade fish. Fancy food places (Whole Foods, Asian markets, nice butcher shops or fishmongers) should stock them. Otherwise, you can still eat it raw, but it won't be quite as nice. Or, you could cook it -- salmon is very good if you parboil it briefly (shabu-shabu style, dip a small piece into a rolling boil and then lift it out) and then put it in the rolls.

The important thing with the rice is to make sure it's vinegared. You can either mix some sugar, salt, and rice vinegar in a bowl, and then mix it with the cooked rice, or you can buy ready-made sushi vinegar powder at an Asian market.

You should get some veggies to go in your rolls, too. Get some avocado slices, some green onion, some different kinds of bean sprouts, some shiitake mushrooms, and some matchstick-cut cucumber. If you can find pickled daikon, burdock root, or umeboshi (pickled plum), these are affordable and really good in rolls. Also, I love tamago (egg) sushi, made with a special sort of fluffy omlette. You can make the egg ahead of time and then cut it into neat little strips for putting in the sushi.
posted by vorfeed at 8:39 PM on November 9, 2006

Being creative with the fillings is important. Maybe tell people to each bring something, like macadamia nuts, basil, cream cheese, slivered cucumber, green beans, green onion, shizo (if you can get it) sriracha+mayo=spicy tuna sauce, any kind of soft smoked salmon is good and easier to find in some locales than good raw salmon (Farmed salmon is a NO for sushi. gross.) eel is good even when from a can, check your local Asian grocery for that and masago.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:39 PM on November 9, 2006

Seasoned rice vinegar is all you need. Don't add a thing to it!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:40 PM on November 9, 2006

how to roll sushi
posted by kooop at 8:42 PM on November 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Also, make sure you use fresh nori each type you make sushi. The sheets should be very dry. They will quickly absorb humidity in the package after it has been opened, so they don't store well.
posted by ijoshua at 8:43 PM on November 9, 2006

It's easier that you think to get great results; just listen to everyone about the rice vinegar. Unless you're really shooting for traditional, don't be afraid to experiment. Last time I did it we dyed a radish strange colors and claimed it was all sorts of animal parts when asked.

When placing in the fillings, have the rice go to the edge but allow the fillings to hang over the nori a little. When cut, this makes very nice looking end pieces.

And I also recommend sushi roulette: a stealth wasabi bomb to torture an unsuspecting palate.
posted by peeedro at 9:43 PM on November 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Lots of good tips here.

I just wanted to add that in most well-stocked grocery stores, you can buy a bottle of pre-made sushi-style rice vinegar. It's not quite as sweet as I like it, so I often add a little sugar, but it's a lot easier than trying to get the mix just right the first time you try making sushi.

IMO, it's the right sushi vinegar/rice mix that really make for great sushi. Just try to not turn the rice into mush as you mix the vinegar in.

My Japanese friend had a whole little ritual that included 20 minutes tinkering with the right mix for the sushi vinegar, cutting the various fillings into exactly equal size pieces, and vigorous waving of bamboo hand fans to cool the rice really fast as it was being covered in vinegar. No need for such fancy rituals to make good sushi, though.
posted by gemmy at 10:50 PM on November 9, 2006

One other tip for cutting the rolls is to cut it in half first, then set the two halves next to each other and make the other two cuts. It'll help you get more uniform pieces. Seems basic, but I didn't realize this at first.

Also, I second CrayDrygu's advice about needing way less rice and other bits than you expect. Save those for the hand rolls which you should also give a shot a making.
posted by lannanh at 11:47 PM on November 9, 2006

Also, make sure you use fresh nori each type you make sushi. The sheets should be very dry. They will quickly absorb humidity in the package after it has been opened, so they don't store well.

In a similar vein, don't even do the rolling beforehand. The seaweed absorbs moisture from the rice/fish. Much better if everyone just does their own and it retains its crispness. And no need to get all fancy with the rolling either, you can go cone-style, more leeway on how much rice/filling you're going to use.
posted by juv3nal at 12:34 AM on November 10, 2006

In general, do not use fresh water fish. No trout sushi.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:05 AM on November 10, 2006

Another tip: when cutting the roll, keep your knife wet and clean - sushi rice is very very sticky and if you try cutting with a sticky knife, chances for failure increase. I usually keep my tap trickling a bit and a folded cloth nearby, and follow the cut-rinse-wipe pattern. You should be able to get 2 cuts without having to rinse the knife, but of course your knife may vary.
posted by Meagan at 6:05 AM on November 10, 2006

I like putting in a strip of red bell pepper and finely julienned carrot for color. Otherwise, I'll second what everyone else said. I actually dreamed of sushi last night, so I'll take this thread as an omen, and make some today!
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:26 AM on November 10, 2006

Purchasing the right fish is the most important thing. I don't know where you're located but I recommend that you go to a Japanese or Korean market to get your sushi-grade fish. NOT because I think that only Japanese or Koreans are capable of producing good sushi-grade fish; it's just that their customers typically eat more sushi and are pickier about the quality than the typical, more mainstream, customer of Whole Foods.

(The prices tend to be a lot better at the Japanese and Korean places, too.)

I would recommend against buying regular-grade fish for this project. If you think some of your guests might be wary of parasites, you might want to focus on tuna; I've heard that tuna, being deep-water fishes, aren't exposed to parasites as much as salmon and other coastal fish are.
posted by jason's_planet at 9:12 AM on November 10, 2006

Inspired by this thread, I did, indeed, make sushi last night. I found out that Eastern Market's fish counter sells sushi-grade tuna in small amounts, so I was able to buy 1/4 pound. My wife likes lox and cream cheese in hers, so I made some of that, too, plus California rolls, since I was able to get a perfectly-ripe avocado. I was sure to cut most of the seeds out of the cucumber, and I liberally sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on the rice. Yummy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:42 AM on November 11, 2006

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