If you are planning the mother of all dinner parties, throwing out all the stops making homemade sushi served to your favourite people with chopsticks, then it's important you first have a think about what you will need. And we don't just mean the main showstopping ingredients!
Have you recently set out on a challenge to learn make sushi? Did you attend a sushi making class one time, watch free video tutorials of top chefs teaching you to make sushi rice or did you buy yourself a sushi making kit and set up your own sushi class at home? If not, then we recommend looking at a japanese cooking class as classes can really enhance the look and flavour of your food!
Have you thought about technique? Tradition? Or are you looking to be more innovative and use new, modern technology or tools and methods? Either way, below you will find a list of some of the equipment and tools you might need to use when making your sushi at home, along with the most common Japanese sushi ingredients.
Main Ingredients for Japanese Sushi Rolls
As you are probably well aware, Sushi is made up of sushi rice, usually wrapped in seaweed or nori and finished with a topping of your choice. There are different types of sushi. So first things first... here is your basic checklist for making sushi home style:
- Rice: there is no such thing as 'sushi rice' so you can use any short or medium grain rice when making sushi rolls. Long grain rice is not suitable as it doesn't contain enough starch to hold the shape together.
- Vinegar: what makes the rice well, sushi rice, is the addition of vinegar. You will need rice wine vinegar for an authentic Asian taste.
- Seaweed sheets: sometimes called nori. You can get these packaged in most supermarkets in the oriental food section or you can order some online.
- Soy sauce
- Fillings: this part is up to you but may include one or more of the following - cucumber strips, red pepper, avocado, spring onion, smoked salmon, white crab meat, canned tuna fish, or other sushi grade fish (raw)
- Wasabi: for serving
- Pickled ginger: for serving (this cleanses the palette in between eating different pieces of sushi rolls).
Traditional Tools for Sushi Making
One of the most essential tools that you will need when becoming a sushi chef in your own home and doing Japanese cooking is a sharp knife and, thankfully, most of us have cutlery like this in our drawers! If however, you don't own a fancy sharp knife, don't worry as we have tips on how to make your existing knife up to the job below.
What is better than one knife? A set of knives!
There is so much precision cutting involved in Japanese cuisine (have you seen the size of sushi rolls?!) so a great set of knives really can be a game-changer, especially when you have ingredients like sticky rice and sheets of nori to slice through.
Top tip: A tip that we have learnt from experts is to use warm water as a lubricant when making and cutting sushi rice, and also for your hands to prevent them from getting sticky.
A Sharpening Stone
If your knives are all a but old and blunt, then don't worry as we have the perfect solution for sharpening up that blade. Many chefs or cooking fans across the globe use knife sharpeners from supermarkets (or you can find a range of relevant gadgets on places like Amazon) or a good quality waterstone to help you achieve that precision sharp blade for your food prep.
Once your short or medium grain rice is cooked, you must leave it to cool down or rest as well as adding in your seasoning mix of rice vinegar sugar and salt then doing your sushi rice nori roll technique (which we are sure you have mastered now from a sushi class or from watching sushi making online!).
The most appropriate container for handling cooked rice and adding these special ingredients is a hangiri, which is the word used for a traditional wooden bowl.
To mix your vinegar sugar salt mix, you might like to use a utensil that won't allow the rice to stick to it. A common tool for this purpose is a rice paddle, which is designed to let moisture escape and avoid the rice becoming stuck to the surface like it would in a standard curved spoon head. You can get new rice paddles in plastic or wood and they vary in price. This utensil is called a 'shamoji'.
The 'makisu' or bamboo mat is probably the most famous utensil or tool of Japanese cuisine and is certainly useful when trying to roll up sushi rolls into cylindrical shapes (you'll remember this well from any course you have taken). The special sushi mat is known for making the perfect sushi grade worthy California and Maki rolls.
Modern Sushi Making Techniques
Sushi has been prepared by Japanese natives for years and years so you can imagine that most of the necessary tools are quite basic (and free), however, some contemporary gadgets have also been created to make life a bit easier when you want to learn to make Sushi in your home kitchen.
An essential element of preparing sushi rice is getting the grains of rice perfectly cooked. While this would have been done using tradition boiling methods on top of a stove, now most Japanese restaurants use a rice cooker called a 'suihanki'. This device has been expertly designed to give you the best rice cooking results, whether in a professional restaurant or at home.
Do you do lots of cooking of rice-based dishes at home? Do you have enough space for yet another kitchen gadget on your worktop? If so, then we say go ahead and get one! There's a huge range available from small to large and medium to high spec.
Presenting Your Homemade Sushi
Now you know what you need to make your sushi rolls (you could probably run classes in sushi making yourself at this rate, we bet!), what about serving them up? It's a good idea to picture in advance how you want to present your food, especially when it comes to food as beautiful as sushi rice.
Will you separate the different sushi rolls, made with sushi grade fish or your own alternative, on different plates or will you serve up the entire collection of sushi rolls on one big platter? Perhaps your sushi with rice vinegar will be a side dish for your main event, which you might place in the centre of a garnished buffet style plate? Are you also making other Japanese delicacies such as miso soup or katsu curry, for instance?
Obviously all this depends on whether you are sticking to a theme for your dinner party or event.
For instance, if you, the head chef, are simply making a variety of different finger foods or snacks inspired by many different cultures (even our very British sausage rolls!), then you may not be too fussed about where the sushi rolls will end up on the table however if you are preparing for an oriental night of culinary delights then you might like to think about some extra touches like providing authentic chopsticks, bamboo bowls, pretty Asian lanterns and so on.
If you are feeling particularly enthused by all things Japanese then you might even like to set up your indoor or outdoor dining area like a traditional Japanese tea house, with guests seated on the floor on bamboo mats.
Top tip: don't forget pickled ginger wasabi and soy sauce for serving! The pickled ginger cleanses the palette between sushi rolls and the wasabi sauce and soy sauce are for dipping.
Where to Buy Authentic Japanese Serving Bowls and Accessories
If you are wondering where to buy Japanese cooking utensils, crockery or wooden sets to serve up your delicious Japanese cooking then why not search at the following retailers:
John Lewis currently have on sale a set of Japanese knives along with a knife sharpening tool.
They also have a range of rice cookers and steamers.
Global Kitchen Japan
Global Kitchen Japan is a website dedicated to a number of brands creating Japanese kitchen utensils. If variety and choice are what you are after, then you will love all of the Japanese inspired items listed on here!
Even better, take a fun, foodie trip from London to Tokyo, Japan and don't miss the opportunity to taste sushi rice made by a local chef first hand, learn more about the culture and most importantly discover the sensational tastes of their fresh nori, deep soy sauce flavours and amazing sushi grade toppings!