Do you make sushi at home?
We tried it once, many years ago. Bought a bamboo mat, bought some nori, did the vinegared rice. I don't recall what we filled the rolls with. I do remember it was very blah and we haven't tried to repeat the experiment since. I think we found the nori too chewy/leathery compared to going out.
Well, I'm thinking of trying again, as I live just outside a city and the closest good sushi is about a 35 minute drive under best conditions.
So a couple of question:
1. what have you done well?
2. what has turned out poorly despite best intentions?
3. recommendations for brand of rice and nori
4. I've seen tuna sold as sushi grade. I don't believe I've ever seen any other fish labeled similarly. So how do you know the fish you're buying is good enough to eat raw? No, I don't have a relationship with my fish monger. In fact, I don't have a fishmonger. Needs to be plan B.
Yes, I make sushi at home.
1) The rice is key, and don't be afraid to use a rice cooker. There are a lot of recipes online and in books, many of which may be at your local library. There are DVDs too, such as at eatsushi.com. As opposed to a previous poster I like my seasoning subtle; just enough to alter the taste of the plain rice. You can taste your efforts while it's still warm - just keep in mind that seasoning in general is milder at room temp, except salt.
There are several commonly used brands of rice. I discoverd Tamanishiki several years ago and love it -- it's a little more expensive but hey -- it's rice, so it's still fairly cheap.
2) There are several online sources for the fish and for other items, which you can get frozen and thaw as needed. Try www.sushifoods.com or www.catalinaop.com/sushifish.htm. The latter has pretty good members' specials. These places have the added advantage of the very deep freezing these companies use so any parasites are killed. Home freezers rarely get cold enough. (You could use dry ice, I suppose...) Sushi purists may balk but unbeknowst to many of them most fish sold for sushi has been frozen at some point, especially deep water fish where the boats are out for a long time. And salmon, while often sold fresh, lives part of it's life in fresh water, raising the chances of parasites. I freeze all my salmon, but I have a very cold deep freezer.
3) While learning the rice and getting used to cutting the ingredients chirashi (as others have mentioned) is an easy and forgiving way to not worry about being neat. (You can throw the scraps on too!) It''s just as "legitimate" a form of sushi.
4) Relax. No one is grading you - just remember what you like and dislike each time and alter as needed.
5) Expect to make a mess as you learn the rice - it's *supposed* to get sticky.
6) Nori -- you can buy it already toasted, but even freshly toasted nori will get soggy if left to absorb moisture from the rice and other ingredients for too long. And, while cheaper per piece, the large packs of nori have longer to get mosture from the air and get less crispy.
When you do get a chance to eat at a sushi bar, observe, ask, and evaluate. Mostly, have fun! It's not rocket science!
How I tried! I started like jfood, with the mat, and black box of rice. And it came with a neat instruction booklet. My fish monger, in jfood's neighborhood, New Canaan, would call me and say "the fish is in" . Tuna. now.
Everything about sushi: rinsing the rice, crackling the rice (did I hear that?) Towels. Vinegar. More vinegar. Wasabi on the underside of the sushi. Scorching the nori. And then it gets soggy, anyway. Trimming a tuna tenderloin is a set of surprises.
My take away was an eternal respect for all sushi chefs, and the correctness of buying a Sapporo for them, because they cannot touch money on the job.
Until I got tired of the zombie hours, I was an itamae, and I've done it all.
If your memory is that it was 'blah', I bet you either didn't add enough seasoning to the rice, or added it at the wrong time. The rice needs to be completely seasoned while it is still hot. You cannot add su (the vinegar/sugar/salt mixture) to rice that has cooled and still make good sushi. A further complication is that in order to season the rice, you have to use a LOT more of the su than you might think. To seven cups of cooked rice, I use 2 cups vinegar, 1 cup sugar, and a quarter-cup of salt. The kind of vinegar doesn't matter that much, but if you want to be authentic, use rice vinegar. Sometimes I use red wine vinegar...it makes the rice pink. When the rice is finished cooking, dump it out into a big bowl or roasting pan, then add almost all of the su (about 80-90%). It'll look like you added too much su (it should be enough that it kind of puddles up in your pan), but have faith. Fold the rice using a rice paddle or stiff spatula to mix the su in thoroughly...don't stir it, or you'll crush the grains of rice. Fold, fold, fold. Every now and then, taste some, and add more su if necessary. Allow the rice to cool (you can fan it if you want). You'll notice that the rice will absorb the puddled su, and also acquire a little bit of a sheen.
If you don't want to toast the nori yourself, buy the expensive stuff...it's pre-toasted. Just understand that toasting it yourself yields a superior product. In my professional life, we used the pre-toasted nori, and it worked out just fine, tho.
You do not need to wrap your bamboo mat with plastic wrap. In fact, once you get good enough, you don't even need the mat. Show off for your friends by rolling a maki without one!
Making good rolls isn't very hard, but it takes practice. Getting the fillings centered is a matter of trial and error with just a few variables. First, getting the quantity of rice right, to ensure that the roll will be thick enough without being overstuffed. Next, learning to gauge the quantity of the fillings. Lastly, learning where to place the fillings. The best part is even the ugly (off-center) rolls taste just fine.
Lastly, be patient. It takes a pro a while to get everything just right, even when they're doing it several hours a day, five or six days a week.
Agree on the importance of sufficient vinegar-- I keep a small electric fan in the kitchen that can clip onto the edge of a cabinet, and can be directed at the cooling rice. It helps to get the steam from the hot rice and vinegar to dissipate more quickly, both cooling the rice and also avoiding too-moist rice; same principle as adding vinegar to hot potatoes in potato salad, really. (Fanning the rice is traditional kids job in Japanese kitchen, but the electric fan is definitely easier!)
Although it's not traditional, I sometimes like to flavor the vinegar-- my favorite is one infused with finely chopped umeboshi, giving it a salty plum flavor. This one is subtly pink, and good with finely chopped shiso mixed into the rice, and a simple cucumber and/or radish sprout roll... More often, though, I'm making Korean-style kimbap, so I sometimes add sesame seeds to the rice, and a drizzle of sesame oil in with the fillings.
I very much like the observation of how the rice takes on a sheen! The rice almost looks pearly, yah? I taste the vinegar/sugar/salt mixture before i mix it in because i rarely remember a good ratio and make it on the fly. thanks for yours. And I taste taste taste the vinegared/sugared/salted rice while near the end for the taste and texture. I know it's not the most important thing but man, the rice in sushi, rolled or otherwise, is the key, like pasta and sauce, the pasta is the point.
I totally agree about the rice (or shari). People focus on the freshness of fish, but the rice is equally important! I hardly go eat sushi in the US (or outside of Japan) because the rice is not sufficiently vinegared! If it's not vinegared, it ain't sushi (it's just onigiri/rice ball with fish on top). You can get decent fish in this country, but the properly-seasoned shari is almost impossible to find!
Here's the cheat version of making sushi (from a native ;-)
-My family/mother always used "Sushinoko" (powdered sushi seasoning) instead of vinegar since I was a kid. Besides it's the family tradition ;-), I find it hard to use liquid vinegar and not to have the rice too mushy. You can find "Sushinoko" (see the pic below) at almost any Japanese groecery store in the US. http://importfood.com/nrts2650.html
Available even on Amazon.com!
-I make only Chirashi at home. I use an instant package like "Sushitaro" (as many people do in Japan!) All you have to do is to mix the rice with the seasoning and ingredients (I also add dried shrimp). I also add green beans, eggs, red ginger, etc. on top. Even my mother (82 in Japan) uses Sushitaro now!
-People often have Temaki (hand roll) for a party and such in Japan. Just prepare sushi rice, fish and other "neta" (sliced like the pic below) and nori (cut in square--better to toast a little bit as suggested above--just hold nori over the stovetop for a few seconds). Very little preparation is required and you don't have to worry about rolling it right. http://recipe.suntory.co.jp/10100/000395.html
How to make hand rolls
re: Sam Fujisaka
Sam, It's a bit off topic but i've found that many Japanese families also use hondashi (the powdered instant brand) instead of making homemade dashi (as you imminently know, not that hard to make with shaved bonito, konbu, flaovrings and water). But the powdered product is acceptable I guess in a time vs. authenticity equation. btw, since i don't need dashi a lot in my cooking, i, counterintuitively, make it fron scratch. heh. And to Ricepad about my handle, hehehheheh.
re: Sam Fujisaka
I've been shocked/amazed at how Japanese-Americans have kept old traditions here!!! (I used to hang out with Nisei people.)
My 82-yr-old mother also has been using instant miso soup for probably 20 years--some of it tastes as good as, if not better than, the one you make from scratch! I usually like the paste type, but last time I was in Japan, I was exposed to this brand and this is THE BEST! Next time I'm in Japan, I'm going to order a bunch.
A good number of Japanese (esp. younger ones) don't even make osechi for New Year's anymore. They just buy readymade ones and the trend has created a huge lucrative market for suppliers. The deli market is HUGE there.
I hope you guys will keep good old Japanese traditions here ;-), as they definitely aren't being kept in Japan.
I just recently started making california rolls. I got the recipe from a show on Discovery Health called Healthy Decadence. I blogged my experience. I've done a couple of variations since then. The original recipe calls for the "crab meat" with lowfat mayo. I've made it sans mayo too. I also tried it with smoked salmon, cucumber, and avacado. Didn't like it as much. In the end, I think I can say I liked the original. But I will have to try it with grilled shrimp! Yumm. :)
I think the only reason I make it is that I live in the boonies and don't have any good sushi nearby.
I make inari fairly regularly, and once in a great while chirashi or rice balls or nori cones. I skip sashimi, because I don't have a good fish source, and serve avocado, pickled vegetables, that fake crab meat stuff, smoked fish or chicken, umeboshi, etc.
I haven't really had anything turn out noteworthily well -- it's all pretty standard good food that we like. Not death from bliss at a bite the way good sushi out can be, but nothing comes out really poorly either.
I'm afraid I don't have a specific rice recommendation - I usually just use my regular house rice, which is a thai jasmine rice.
Fish I avoid - I live in a smallish inland city, and we just don't get good fish here. Even the fishmonger agrees that sushi quality fish isn't easy to come by. There's one restaurant that does good sushi, and I haven't asked where they source their fish, but given what it costs I suspect FedEx is involved.
Absolutely. For those just getting started here is a site with videos.
Inside out rolls are easy. Just need a mat, the right ingredients and a little practice. Finding quality fish is the hard part.
On a side note I also do a cooked sushi which taste great and looks good as well. I take a center cut piece of salmon split it in half and flatten to about 1/4 inch. Lay the salmon on a sheet of nori, add sushi rice and other ingredients like shredded carrots, green onions, spinach or arugula, you know anything that would taste and look interesting. Roll in traditional sushi roll and cook breifly in a hot skillet. Cut in snall rings and serve.
There are a lot of good pieces of advice in the above posts. Just to emphasize what others have said: a) pass nori quickly over a flame or electric element a few times before use to get it nicely crispy, b) toss hot (Japanese) rice laid out on a baking tray with the vinegar-sugar mix while fanning the rice to get flavor and neither soggy nor crunchy texture--then let the rice cool, c) wet your hands, pick of a handful of rice with wet hands, and distribute and press down a bit on the rice at the same time, and d) after placing fillings at the 1/3 line close to you, e) the first roll- fold-over followed by using the mat to tightly press all together is key.
I like my rolls filled with either the whole traditional combo of Japanese omelette, cucumber, shitake, possibly pickled ginger, and the like--or filled with a single ingredient. I rarely make sushi with sashimi, preferring the latter with hot, fresh gohan!
The rice 'n roll is the easy part. Avacado, peppers, scallion & cuke work for me. Your problem is fresh fish. Here in Maine I love raw scallop rolls. One of our sons was a sushi chef. For our wedding anniversary, he'd traditionally make lobster, crab, and scallop rolls for us. Yum. On Father's day a few years ago, at our lakeside cabin, he prepared some rice, we climbed in the canoe, w/ Sam Adams, caught 3 lake trout, and 1 salmon. The wind really kicked up and we flipped the canoe near shore, walked back w/ fish, filleted and rolled it w/ above veggies. He told me that this was one Father's Day I'd remember. Boy was he right. Consider catching your own fish.
ps Michael is now a chef in Vegas.
I make both maki and nigiri occasionally at home for dinner or snacks, and make a few dozen rolls for parties. I think it is a very fast and easy meal. You can't expect perfection all at once, remember that professional sushi chefs spend years achieving their skills. I did find that by the second or third time I had improved drastically in the look of the rolls, nigiri took a bit longer to master. The rice really had to be just right, not too wet or dry. You can't explain it, it's all about the feel. Basically even the best sushi rice, vinegar, and sugar are cheap and I practiced making the seasoned rice a few times before it came out right. I make the rice in my rice maker, put it into a stainless steel bowl, sprinkle with a little sugar and some rive vinegar, and toss it with one hand while fanning it to cool it with the other.
Keep your hands wet for nigiri and dry for maki. You don't want any moisture on the seaweed.
I have toasted the nori over an open flame using tongs for a few seconds to crisp it up and give it a mildly toasty flavor.
As for fish quality. It has to be super fresh and from fish that was frozen to kill any parasites.
I usually buy the fish from a Japanese market near me, but have bought it from a fish market I talk to and trust. I find it easy to get good quality tuna.
I never, ever use salmon since I hate farmed salmon, because I think it tastes like mud, and a large percentage of the time supposedly wild salmon isn't.
I find that raw 'dry' scallops work very well. You an instantly tell by the feel , smell, and taste how fresh they are. They should look a nice beige with almost an orange tinge. White ones are 'wet' and have been soaked in the bleaching preservative chemicals and are useless for sushi. The should be firm, sweet smelling and tasting, with hardly any brine smell. When I am at the shore in Maryland or Maine I can usually find someone selling super fresh scallops and always make sushi, sashimi, and ceviche.
If the tuna or other fish is fresh but not perfect, I make it spicy using a mix of sriracha and mayo or toasted sesame oil. Or else I make ceviche with pieces larger than I normally would and drain and dry it well and use it for rolls. A different taste but it works very well.
I have made all kinds of stuff but when it is hard to get good fish I use shrimp that have been blanched briefly in boiling water then chilled.
At a few of my local markets you can get frozen, vacuum packed sashimi quality fish and arc shell clam. you just defrost in the fridge, rinse, and dry and it's ready to slice.
Tobiko is easy to find and works well. The wasabi flavored one is decent too.
For veggies I use cucumber, avocado, daikon, and blanched finely julienned carrot and turnip, endive, basil, and mint.
I think mine tastes good, but it never looks pretty like my Bachan used to make. She had an expert hand. Her filling was dead on center when you sliced it and it was a painter's palette of color. I remember as a kid, taking my finger and pushing all that good stuff out so I could eat the rice and the nori only. Far and away my favorite was Inari which we called AgeSushi back then. I make that usually for New Years and sometimes for a special occasion. I have to say that Bachan turned that over to me in her final years for the new years day feast and it took me 3 years of trying before I got a nod from her. I have it down now and I've yet to have it in a restaurant where it could come close to Bachan's recipe/method passed down to me.
For quick rolls, I do a lot of kamaboko with wasabi, umeboshi with celery, takuan slices, and spicy crab (real crab, I'm not a fan of imitation). I toast my nori over the stove and I have a gas burner. It works fine.
As for the tuna...I'm cautious. My husband is a huge tuna fan but we've had bad tuna from the fish market before. I rarely buy it but then I'm not big on fish.
I don't always enjoy paying the high prices for sushi so we rarely go out for J food. While mine isn't pretty, it's homey and it's good. Sushi is one of life's pleasures at our house.
We make a lot of sushi in our house. *sigh* I sometimes wish for kids that begged for Kraft mac-n-cheese. But I love it too.
I loved Wayne Keyser's suggestion of chirashi, which is one of our favorites. Relieves the cook of playing the sometimes tedious (rollin', rollin', rollin'...) role of sushi chef. (Yep, it's nice to sit down together.)
I also think the blah-ness mentioned in the OP is wonderfully addressed with some suggestions for spicy tuna rolls. Season the mince to your taste and roll away. We use salmon a lot of the time as well, and have done some spicy octopus and spicy crab maki. really delicious.
If cooked fillings are desired, kampyo (kanpyo - alt. spelling) is great. We often make a lot of extra kampyo rolls to have as a breakfast (yeah, I know - the leathery nori; but it's still a great breakfast!). It's cheap, easy, and has a wonderful texture.
I used to teach a one-night "basic sushi" course, years ago - it was tough to get my target audience (those who wanted a first-time foothold on the topic) and discourage those who would be disappointed not to find the best-of-the-best attempted. So the home cooking question needs to be approached with a view toward whether one wants to try for "sushi-master quality at home" or whether one wants something workmanlike, edible, and his own.
With that said:
1. what have you done well?
Chirashi (how do you do a bad chirashi?), basic maki, temaki (hand-rolls), oshizushi (pressed / ball-shaped)
2. what has turned out poorly despite best intentions?
I find good-looking maki very difficult, and I use a mold (like a lot of Japanese do at home)
3. recommendations for brand of rice and nori
I'll pass on this - I'm lucky to live where there are several gigantic Asian markets with so many brands you can't count them all, and for "just get it on the table" quality I have no preference
4. I've seen tuna sold as sushi grade. I don't believe I've ever seen any other fish labeled similarly. So how do you know the fish you're buying is good enough to eat raw?
I'm not particular about "sushi grade", but I do like to freeze the fish as many/most restaurants do to address the parasite problem. Also there's cooked seafood (shrimp, scallop, etc) And then there's non-fish sushi (inari pockets, omelette, surimi, vegetables, fish eggs, pickled radish, avocado, etc.) and also ingredients far from the "classic" (but still well within what you'll find in Tokyo as well as in America) like lox, cream cheese, crawfish, jalapeno slices, cooked or even canned tuna, and on and on.
hi, I make alot of rolls at home.
California rolls alawys turn out pretty well for me. I like to add some tamago (omelette) to mine.... really, it isn't a california roll.
Spicy tuna rolls are pretty easy and I like them better at home because you can adjust the seasoning to your liking.
I haven't found that the brand of rice matters so long as it is short grain rice. I usually just buy the japanese brands.
I don't wrap my mat in saran wrap. I find it more of a hindrance than anything else. A friend slips her into an accordingly sized ziploc bag with good results. BUt I find that with practice, you don't end up getting any rice on the mat at all and it is much easier.
I agree that the nori often turns out too chewy. Still, it's fun and less expensive.
I've used sushi grade tuna and never been ill. Can't say that about sushi from restaurants.
Cooked ideas include eel, shrimp with cucumber, and crab (real crab!) with avocado. The last was a little squishy and messy, but tasted good. Thinly cut cooked carrot also works.
Maybe Sam F. will post. He was helpful when I asked a similar question. Or you could do a search.
Ok, this is just thinking sort of out loud....but, given how long he puts unagi into the oven for and how warm it is when it comes out, I think they must have the oven set at around 300 or maybe 325 degrees. At most...it might even be lower, maybe 275 or so. He opens the door and holds one half of the nori into the oven for about 10 or 15 seconds, then turns it around and does the same with the other half. So, 20 or 30 seconds total at a fairly low heat. Definitely not a stick it in the oven and leave it situation.
I have a made it a handful of times, but I gave up because it is so readily available near me for such a reasonable price - if I were in your situation I would make it again though.
I always found that the rice is the key. If you screw up the rice, you may as well chuck it and start again because the sushi will not taste good, there is a surprisingly thin line between too mushy and a little crunchy. So I would say that has been my biggest problem. I always bought tuna from a japanese food market that was catering to that specific purpose to be safe so I can't vouch for other methods. One thing I found really worked out well for me was spicy tuna rolls, it is easy to make the spicy tuna sauce with a little japanese mayo (do use japanese) some fish roe and some spicy sesame oil. Yum!
Yes several years ago jfood gave it a whirl. Bought a mat and the black box of rice. Wen to an asian grocer and bought lots o sheets of nori and some vinegar. Went to the grocer, bought some sushi grade tuna and some fake crab, avocado, cucs, wasabi and pickled ginger.
-Washed the rice a dozen times and cooked. Added the vinegar to taste. Jfood like the vinegar to have a nice tang (just a preference).
-Cut the tuna, the avocado, the tuna and fake crab.
-First thing is you HAVE to wrap the mat with saran wrap.
-second you will need waaaaay more rice tha you think
- take your time and keep hands wet.
- just follow what you've seen in the sushi resto, your first few will need to be re-done, the reason for the extra nori
sharp knife to cut
End result was very good. made sooooo much it was plenty for the four jfoods.
it was a bit of work and will probably repeat this summer for a pool party but jfood is a little nervous about the fish.
I agree - you always need more rice than you think. I would add to that: less fish! I was so shocked at how little I actually end up using. In fact, I usually make loads of salmon handrolls for my husband and I and only use 1/4 lb. of salmon between us!
When I was researching how to make sushi (when I first started), there were some online tutorials that really helped me out.
Here is how to make sushi rice: http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-make-sushi-rice
Here is one on how to make hand rolls: http://www.sushiordeath.com/how-to/ma...
A few other tips I've learned:
-Fresh crab is really the best and since you only need a very small amount, it's affordable (I get around $3 worth and it's more than enough).
-If you are lucky enough to live near an Asian market, buy some shiso leaf and put it in your rolls and handrolls. It is heavenly.
-Put a paper-thin quarter-slice of lemon on your salmon nigiri or in your rolls. It sets the entire thing off.
-Practice on your trusted friends and family before showing off your skills at a party. It really does take practice!