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Mar 9, 2009 04:34 PM

Sashimi and sushi at home

I recently made some homemade sushi, and I must be doing it all wrong (no chow pun intended), but it NEVER tastes the same- even similar- to bought sushi (even store bought sushi!)

Firstly- I think I use either too much vinegar to season the rice, or just the wrong flavourings? I use sushi vinegar (or seasoned rice vinegar)- proportions are 1/3 c vinegar, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt. The rice turns out just...weird I over seasoning?

The ingredients themselves I know vary because I use diff ingredients, except for the California roll, which is pretty easy to replicate. I also make the spicy mayo, and to save time i use store bought popcorn shrimp (clearly this affects taste, but it's just easier).

Lastly, most recently I decided on a whim to buy some salmon to try at home sashimi. I bought less than half a pound from a very reputable fishmonger (I asked specifically for sushi grade salmon, it was marked atlantic salmon but he said it was sushi grade?)...I kept it in the fridge until I sliced it up for dinner- no fishy smell, no visible problem- the taste was COMPLETELY not there! It literally tasted like ...raw salmon...which i know is hard to describe, but it did NOT taste like sashimi (even bad sashimi) wasn't a troublesome flavor, it's just what I would imagine eating raw fish is like if I hadnt ever eaten wasn't great (and I love sashimi)..

Can anyone offer any tips or tricks?

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  1. sushi rice: darn, could not find my basic recipe, but this is one I found in another cookbook:
    1) cook 2 1/2 cup raw rice
    to the warm rice, add:
    4 T rice vinegar
    3 T sugar
    2 t salt
    2 T mirin
    the ingredient amounts you list might be correct, but it depends on how much rice you have. Also, try checking out the websites for various rice manufacturers. Reasonably sure their recipes are tried and true.

    as to "salmon sushi":
    your fish monger was giving you the biz. TMK, no one is making "sushi grade" salmon. This is because salmon does not contain human-affecting parasites like tuna. If you wish to do salmon sushi style, you need to have sockeye, king, coho salmon; atlantic, pink, dog, or chum salmon simply do not have enough flavor (these are the types usually reserved for canned salmon).
    IMHO, it is worth the trouble and $$$ to get sockeye.

    I should say that I have done brief stints in the past as last minute sushi chef substitute. Although I know how to do it, I usually just buy it, as they are pretty good, and it is way too much trouble, in most cases, to do it in my home kitchen except as part of a party or special event.

    6 Replies
    1. re: jerry i h

      See, I had walked into my neighborhood grocery store (a big box chain) where there is a little sushi booth (and you can buy the sushi on trays, sometimes they make it during the day there)...I asked the lady there if I could get some salmon off of her (haha), and she showed me what the company sends her- a vacuum sealed slab of salmon, skin on, Nanuk brand (basically the kind you can get in stores, not at a particular fish monger!)

      Am I better off looking for this brand/in store packaged/frozen fish, or still going to a reputable fishmonger and asking for SOCKEYE instead (assuming it is sushi grade) to get the buttery non-raw fishy taste of sashimi

      1. re: strawberryfields

        Sockeye (or King, in a pinch) is definitely worth seeking out: the difference is dramatic. Anything cryovac'ed is probably not the freshest thing in the fish case. I worked for a fish monger who would personally drive out to the airport to pick up freshly caught whole sockeye and king still on ice from copper river every week, and we often ran out. Raw, I never tasted anything so good. This is the kind of place you need.
        Word of warning: this little culinary treat will cost an Andrew Jackson (or more, now that the SF salmon season has been canceled) per #. But: you really do not need that much for sushi, and besides, it is worth every ยข.

      2. re: jerry i h


        with regard to the salmon/tuna parasite issue, you have it background. for all intents and purposes, tuna does not have parasites. parasites and raw salmon are a concern. freezing adequately kills parasites in either fish.

        1. re: filth

          Just a suggestion, but you probably want to elaborate on your post here. Parasites are absolutely found in tuna. Of course it depends on your level of potential harm arising from consumption, but there are most certainly bugs in tuna.

          1. re: HaagenDazs

            Good point. I went to the FDA website, and there are NO legal rules on eating raw seafood. However, it "suggests" that ALL seafood eaten raw be frozen solid to eliminate parasites. So, this means that all oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster, crab, etc, should be frozen SOLID first if you do not cook it thoroughly. It also means that ALL seafood not frozen hard be thoroughly cooked to white, hard, coagulated meat. So, "rare" tuna or quickly sauteed shrimp or oysters on the half-shell are also, technically, very un-safe ways to serve seafood.

            Having worked in the industry, I maintain that:
            tuna (whether sashimi or seared) must be so-called sushi grade.
            salmon, raw, is safe (and if the high quality, tastes heavenly; most commercial grade of salmon you will find in your stores are not that good, so you might as well cook them; even here, if you were to follow FDA recommendations, it has to be cooked solid and white-opaque all the way through, way beyond the "easily flaked" stage most cookbook authors recommend)
            eating at a restaurant or patronizing a good fish monger that is dedicated to freshness and quality is your best defense for getting safe seafood that you can eat raw safely.

          2. re: filth

            I've studied parasitology and have had at length discussions about sashimi, oysters and all other raw goodies that I like to eat with parasitologists.

            Most of the fish these days are flash frozen on the boat which does kill any parasites. The big risk for parasites are for those who live on the coast and have direct access to fish just pulled from the ocean.

            Tuna can carry Anasakis simplex- a type of parasitic worm.

            Salmon is sketchy because it spawns in fresh water which increases the probability of parasites (diphylobothrium latum- a fresh fish tapeworm). It is my understanding that most Japanese won't touch salmon during certain seasons because of the risk of parasites.- But again, if the salmon is flash frozen, nothing is going to out live that.

            You're chances of getting sick from some type of bacteria in raw oysters is probably greater than picking up a parasite from sushi.

            Not that that is going to stop me from eating raw oysters. Having second thoughts about the steak tartare I had recently though...

        2. Sounds a lttle heavy on the vinegar depending how much rice was used. I bought some sushi grade tuna and salmon, marked Atalantic salmon origin Chile, I'm sure it is farmed, they were packed in small potions vacuum sealed back, frozen solid, I understand a very cold temperature freeze is used to kill all organisms. I agreee parasites are unlikley to be a problem but bacteria in never frozen atalantic salmon could be a problem. My local market says of their salmon fillets are fresh, we live in the midwest. I don't get much flavor out of the sashimi either, there is a good mouth feel to some of the fattier fish. Keep trying, my first rice batch was a mushy mess. I now appreciate the sushi makers work better now. Good sushi thread on the general topic board.

          1. 1/3 c of SEASONED rice vin + 1tsp of salt would be for a very good amt of rice. How much rice do you put this on?

            1 Reply
            1. re: gordeaux

              I used 2 c rice (cooked in 4 2/3 c water) for 1/3c seasoned rice vinegar (it did have sugar and salt already, as suggested below this could've been my problem)+1 tbsp white sugar+1 tsp salt

              It tasted fairly vinegary, so the fact that I put too much vinegar easily coudlve been the problem..

            2. I would add more sugar, but it depends on how much rice you're cooking. When I first started making homemade sushi it came out really awful too. It's just kind of trial & error. Making sure that you mix & fan the rice right made a big impact on my rice too.

              As for the salmon tasting like nothing, mabye brushing some shoyu on it might help... I always like to rub a bit of a lemon wedge ontop of salmon sashimi too.

              1. All rice vinegar is not alike. The recipe you are using is calling for un-seasoned japanese rice vinegar. That's why you add salt and sugar to it. If you look on the side of your bottle, you'll see that it already has salt and sugar added. I'm guessing that this is why your rice tastes "overseasoned." I actually really like the pre-seasoned stuff, and I think the proportions are just right for sushi rice. I don't know the exact proportion that I use, I usually just keep adding by the capful until it tastes right.I am pretty sensitive to "weird tasting sushi rice," being from Vancouver I'm used to a certain level of authenticity in my sushi, since moving to Montreal, I've tasted some pretty funky rice in my sushi, not to mention what they sometimes try to pass off as shoyu here. I've been making sushi for years now, and the rice turns out pretty great every time. Don't be afraid of the bottle, the bottle is good.