Sushi at Home
Given that the weather in Sydney of late has been pretty miserable, Michael and I decided to stay in and give sushi making a go. Now, I know that he is quite talented in the kitchen, but let’s face it, the high-quality sushi we eat in restaurants is generally made by someone who has been doing it daily for decades. It’s hard to compete with that! Nevertheless, Michael took on the challenge (and I hate to admit, as per usual, he did a great job).
Let’s be honest – even for a qualified chef, making sushi was not easy. And if you have next to no skills in the kitchen like me, making sushi would be near impossible. The average individual has inept skills when judging the flavour of sushi rice (we have included a recipe below), cutting sashimi and rolling the rice with a bamboo mat. Sushi rice cannot be made with regular rice. We purchased special sushi rice which needed to be rinsed several times and had precise quantities of vinegar and mirin added to reach the correct consistency and flavour.
We began the process by choosing what types of sushi we wanted to make. To keep things fairly simple (or so we thought), we went with tuna and salmon. The ingredients we used included sushi rice, seaweed, mirin, tinned tuna, fresh salmon, avocado, cucumber, carrot and sesame seeds (although I’m sure I’ve missed a few others).
Michael first cooked the rice. The cooking process was pretty simple – but after that, it was a labour intensive process for the poor assistant! I was tasked with’slicing’ the rice and fanning it to cool it down – what a boring job! I was warned not to let the rice get too cold because this causes it to harden. I was also given the fun job of breaking down the tinned tuna so there were absolutely no chunks left – at all! We mixed in a hell of a lot of kewpie mayonnaise and soy sauce with the tuna – so of course, it tasted absolutely delicious!
While I was doing this, Michael sliced the salmon. This involved cutting it into very small, thin slices. Thank goodness Michael has an abundance of sharp knives and excellent knife skills. I’m not convinced that the average person would be able to cut salmon quite so thinly without chopping off a finger.
After cutting up all of the vegetables, we came to assembling the sushi. The rice was INCREDIBLY sticky, which made spreading it evenly across the seaweed a near impossible task. Once the rice was spread, Michael then had to flip it, as he had decided that he wanted the rice on the outside of the roll. This was actually much easier than expected. After he had all the filling inside, there was the daunting task of rolling the sushi – and the fear that it would completely fall apart! Watching this, looked much like trying to roll an overfilled burrito. It did, by some miracle though, stay together!
Overall, our rainy day activity was a great experience, but I think Michael and I both agree that it’s not really worth the time, money or effort. Making sushi isn’t something we will be doing on a regular basis and certainly something better left to professionals! There was, however, a sense of accomplishment and we can assure you that it tasted delicious!
If you, like us, would like to take on the challenge of making homemade sushi, we would most certainly recommend grabbing a copy of The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura, Brigid Treloar and Ryuichi Yoshii.
Basic Sushi Rice Recipe
- 3 cups sushi rice (found in any good supermarket)
- 3 cups water
- 8 tbs rice vinegar
- 5 tbs mirin
- ½ tsp salt
- Rinse rice 3-4 times before cooking to remove any excess starch
- Drain rice well for 15-20mins
- While rice is draining, make sushi vinegar by combining the rice vinegar, mirin and salt
- To cook the rice, place in a medium saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed (approx 12-15mins)
- Remove rice from the heat and let stand with lid on for 10-15mins to complete the cooking process
- Spread rice out in a large, flat-bottomed bowl or deep tray
- Slice through the rice at a 45-degree angle with a rice paddle or wooden spoon to break up any lumps. While doing so, slowly pour the sushi vinegar over the rice to distribute evenly
- Continue to slice through the rice – lifting and turning as you go
- Fan the rice so that it cools to body temperate – this will ensure the rice has a good flavour and becomes glossy
- Whilst using the rice to make sushi, keep covered with a damp cloth to keep it from drying out
Recipe and photos by Michael Salmon
Written by Michaela Ward