Sushi is one of the best known and most prepared Japanese dish in the world. In addition to being easy to prepare (when you have mastered the rice), it is a delicious and very healthy snack, since it is cooked, flavoured rice, which is usually accompanied by fish, seafood and/or vegetables. The word “Sushi” refers exclusively to the rice, regardless of the ingredients that accompany it. “Maki” refers to the classic sushi in the form of a roll with ‘Nori‘ seaweed.
You will see that the key to preparing good sushi is in the rice, which must be of a specific type and cooked in a way that, although simple, requires you to experiment with your own rice, pan and type of hob.
Once you have the rice ready, you only have to cut the ingredients with which you want to accompany it, and of course learn to wrap it. If the first one is not totally perfect, you will see that you won’t take long in getting the hang of it. The most traditional method is to use a sushi mat, but I’ve just bought online the “Sushi Bazooka” via www.aliexpress.com, and it certainly makes the job a lot easier!
Note: the ratio is always 1 measure of rice to 1½ measures water (although I have seen recipes which use equal amounts of rice to water, then make up the difference on finishing the cooking time, using a large quantity of rice vinegar).
Ingredients for 6 maki sushis (this refers to the complete roll, uncut)
1½ glasses of sushi rice
2¼ glasses of water
1½ tbsp “Sake” (otherwise known as Japanese rice wine) *optional
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp icing sugar (you can use normal sugar, although icing sugar dissolves better).
2 tsp salt
There are endless possibilities of fillings you can choose, although fish, seafood (smoked or fresh salmon, tuna, prawns/shrimps) and vegetables (salad onions, cucumber, carrots, avocados, courgettes) are probably amongst the most common. Try using ‘surimi’, eel, serrano ham, cream cheese, mayonnaise, caviar, sesame seeds, pineapple, lettuce.
Place the rice in a casserole and cover it with cold water. Move well with your hands (you’ll see all the starch appearing). Drain, then repeat this process until the water appears clear (5-10 times). Discard the water, leaving only the rice in the pan and add the correct amount of water for the rice used. Place over a medium-high heat and, once boiling point is reached, simmer for 2-3 minutes. Lower the heat to a minimum, cover the pan and leave it for 10-15 minutes, so that the rice cooks in its own steam. In the meantime, mix the rice marinade (“awasezu“) in a glass: rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Heat in the microwave for 20 seconds, stir with a spoon and repeat the operation until the sugar and salt have dissolved completely (or dissolve in a pan over a medium heat). When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and spoon into a large, shallow dish, pour over the marinade, mixing thoroughly but gently, then place in the fridge to cool.
Prepare the filling ingredients of your choice: peel and cut everything into fine strips.
Now spoon some rice into both halves of the Sushi Bazooka and form a central ‘channel’ for the filling, pushing the rod (that will later be used to push the sushi roll out) firmly over the rice on both sides.
Fill the central channels on both sides with the filling ingredients of your choice, then place the ‘rod’ in position and close the Sushi Bazooka. Connect the cap onto the open end and apply pressure to the rod to compact the filling ingredients.
Lay your Nori Seaweed on your work surface. Remove the cap from the Sushi Bazooka and use the rod to push out the sushi roll directly onto the seaweed. Roll up firmly, wetting the end of the seaweed with your fingertips to seal.
Cut the roll into pieces about 2 cm long (from each roll you should get 6-8 pieces). Do it with a very sharp knife (I personally find it easier with a serrated knife). If you want a perfect result, wet the knife in water after cutting each slice in order to avoid it sticking to other seaweed and rice.
Serve accompanied by the classic condiments:
• Soy sauce
• Pickled ginger
• Wasabi paste