Ever eaten Sushi rice from a supermarket or, even better, from an authentic Sushi bar and wondered how they make such cool pieces of Japanese inspired food that taste so good? Are you intrigued by all of the colours, how pretty it is and all the different combinations of ingredients and shapes that you can get (ie sushi rolls, mounds and so on)?
Well, look no further! Here, we will be revealing how you can get started with making professional-looking japanese Sushi, what goes in each roll, what kind of tools or equipment you might need in your home kitchen and we'll also give you some tips on where to sign up to Sushi making classes in your area. Sushi classes can really make a difference to your confidence in the kitchen.
But first, for those who have never tasted it or who don't really know what kind of products or ingredients Sushi is made from - what is Sushi?
What is Sushi and Where Does It Originate From?
Do you know what Sushi is, other than being pretty bitesize food?
The word “Sushi” describes a type of food made with vinegared rice and often soy sauce which is topped with other ingredients like vegetables or raw fish, however it is usually only comprised of one additional ingredient for simplicity.
In the olden days, Sushi was made with fermented fish and rice that had been preserved in salt, but contemporary Sushi (post-1868 and the Sushi dish as we know it today) reflected the changes mentioned above.
A literal translation of the word is that "it is sour", which most probably came about because of the old way of preparing it with fermented fish and the salty rice.
One of the biggest benefits of this new modern Sushi is that it is much faster to prepare, making sushi kind of a fast food option nowadays. For instance, you can get a plate of sushi of your choice or some Japanese noodles to takeaway whilst at the airport waiting for a flight now. Plus, you can buy a Sushi kit, squeezy soy sauce or wasabi included, from your local supermarket.
Sushi is usually very simple and is usually only made with one type of raw, sushi grade fish or one vegetable (but not avocado as so many new, Americanised places do!).
What's more, condiments are kept simple as well, with only soy sauce being used and wasabi dressing being dabbed on afterwards if necessary. Japanese Sushi chefs don't add it all into the mix. To be honest, the true flavours of Sushi are best eaten with no distracting sauces and only the fresh flavours of the one or two chosen sushi ingredients. A piece of pickled ginger may be placed on a plate to cleanse the palate in between pieces of Sushi. Pickled ginger is not intended to be a part of the dish itself.
Lastly, Sushi is intended to be a bitesize piece of food.
How Can I Start Making Sushi?
Putting together a bunch of raw Sushi ingredients - it can't be that hard... or can it?
You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to make this intricate dish look attractive and appealing and restaurant standard. What's more, you need a lot of technique (if not you'll need oodles of patience!) and know-how to get the balances of flavours and amounts of ingredients just right.
Still interested in giving it a go in your home restaurant? Then here are some tips on things to think about when wanting to get started with making homemade Sushi:
It may sound very trivial but actually water can either help you when Sushi making or act as a barrier (well, a lack of can).
For instance, you should always handle Sushi ingredients with semi-wet or moist hands to avoid the products sticking to you during the preparation process. We suggest you wash your hands as usual prior to any food prep and then simply dab your hands so that they aren't dripping.
Moreover, you should always work on a wet chopping board, for most of the same reasons. It's a bit like using butter or parchment paper when baking to stop it from sticking - imagine the mess you could get yourself into if you forgot this very important part!
Preparing all your ingredients in advance is vital if you want to make Sushi successfully.
For obvious reasons, you want to have all your food items at hand, ready chopped or prepped, so that you don't encounter any delays whilst in the midst of a Sushi making session.
One other important reason to plan in advance is that you want your rice to be warm and pliable when you handle it.
Last but not least, you should always check what equipment you might need before you embark on a quest to make the perfect Sushi roll.
Most people have a chopping board but do you own a very sharp knife that will be up to the task? You can find out more below about any additional equipment that might make making Sushi that little bit easier.
And of course, when talking of equipment, do you own all the Japanese ingredients needed? Like for example, soy sauce (dark or light soy sauce), soy sheets, seaweed sheets (also called nori, if you are new to sushi making), short grain rice, rice vinegar, sushi grade fish (raw), fresh vegetables and so on?
Different Types of Sushi
You probably know what the different types of Sushi are by their look or taste, perhaps even their smell if you truly are a fan of the Japanese delicacy, but could you identify each of them by their name? Here's a quick overview of the different types of sushi you might expect to be served up in a Sushi restaurant.
Inarizushi comes in the form of a pouch of fried tofu with rice inside, eaten with your fingers.
Maki Rolls or makizushi
Maki Rolls are long, round pieces of vinegar rice accompanied by other ingredients which are wrapped with sheets of seaweed (or nori). The seaweed might be replaced by cucumber slices or soy paper. You eat these with your fingers too.
Interesting fact: When the reverse is made, ie with the rice on the outside, this is called a Uramaki.
Nigiri or nigirizushi
Nigiri is a word to describe a mound of vinegared rice which is shaped using the palm of the hands. It usually has some wasabi on top and is topped with one single ingredient (usually a vegetable or a thin piece of raw fish). Nigiri is eaten with your fingers, after dipping it into some soy sauce upside-down.
Chirashi or chirashizushi
Chirashi is a bowl of rice vinegared rice alongside mixed ingredients which you eat with chopsticks.
Oshizushi is rice mixed with rice vinegar, along with other ingredients like vegetables or sushi grade fish, shaped into a cylindrical block using a mould. Once cut into bite-sized pieces, you pick one piece up and eat it with chopsticks.
Temaki, or hand roll
Temaki is a cone-shaped Sushi piece with seaweed nori on the outside and vinegared rice with other ingredients placed on the inside. This is finger food.
Narezushi, finally, is somewhat like the original form of Sushi; made up of fermented fish with seasoned sushi rice, and preserved for a few months before being served and eaten (only the fish is consumed, however).
What Kind of Equipment and Ingredients are Needed to Make Sushi?
As we've already mentioned, you'll need a sharp knife and of course a surface to prepare your Sushi ingredients, among other tools. and gadgets.
Sushi has been prepared by Japanese natives for years and years so you can imagine that most of the necessary tools are quite basic, however, some contemporary gadgets have also been created to make life a bit easier when trying to make Sushi in your home kitchen.
You'll appreciate having a rice paddle, a type of spoon with a wider, paddle-shaped head on it, to help mix the rice vinegar into the grains of cooked rice. You will want to keep a bowl of water close at hand, for the reasons mentioned above and to add lubrication when working with certain dry ingredients. Also, a bamboo rolling mat (also referred to as a sushi mat) with flexible bamboo strips - it will be key to rolling those Sushi ingredients like a pro chef!
Last, but not least, an electric rice cooker can speed the process up for you, saving time using pots and pans to boil your rice to perfection.
Where Can I Learn to Make Home Sushi?
Learn to make Sushi at home or with a cookery class / culinary school. Sushi making lessons can be bought as gift experiences at a range of London cookery schools (ie through Virgin Experience Days or on LastMinute) but you can also find a whole heap of sushi tutorials online using sites like YouTube or even Instagram if you follow the right hashtags. Well-known Facebook channels like So Tasty have also been known to create recipes like Sushi so it's worth searching their page if you just want a quick recipe to follow.
You can also purchase sushi making kits and attempt to teach yourself how to make sushi home style in your very own sushi masterclass. The great thing is, apart from the initial cost of the kit, that these are all free methods of learning to make sushi.
However, if you really want to learn about the art of sushi making from experts, you should pay to attend a cooking class (or classes) with a professional. High Street chain Yo Sushi! offers its own in-house classes at some restaurants but if you are looking for a more unique sushi rice making experience then your best bet is to sign up to the popular session at Atsuko's Kitchen in Shoreditch, London - believe us, if you're not from the capital then it's worth the journey as it really is great and packed full of fun!
The class, which focuses on making Sushi making fun and simple, lasts 3 hours and costs just shy of £80.
Another option would be to check out the available private sushi chefs in your area on Superprof and schedule an in-home sushi making workshop for you and your family.
So, are you feel inspired to go off and learn how to make Sushi rice now or what!? You'll be as good as a Japanese chef in no time at all with these tips!