Sushi has a long and interesting history. It has its roots in ancient China where peasants developed a way of preserving fish for the winter season. This cuisine has grown in popularity and prominence in the Western world only in the last two decades. When people think of sushi they usually consider it virtually snonymous with raw fish. Now, this is the funny thing, sushi actually refers to the seasoned and cooked sushi rice. What is ironical is that in the ancient days the rice was thrown away and only the fish was eaten. Today however, the sushi rice is an integral part of the food, and some even consider it the highlight of their meal.
If you are looking for sushi recipes to try out at home you will be pleasantly surprised to find a wide range of them. The sushi recipes that may interest you may be vegetarian or you may prefer those that use seafood. Sushi can be made and presented in many different forms. The nigiri sushi was created by an enterprising young man named Hanaya Yohei. Yohei offered patrons cooked sushi rice, fermented with vinegar and salt, and pressed into bite sized balls. He placed strips of raw fish, caught from the bay, merely a few hours ago. As the fish was so fresh, it didn’t require fermentation. Soon Yohei’s fast food sushi became the rage amongst the folks in Edo, the old name for the Japanese city of Tokyo.
The maki sushi or the sushi roll is the most popular choice amongst people who wish to try sushi recipes at home. The sushi rice along with the filling is rolled in a noori seaweed. When it is time to serve the roll is cut into bite sized portions. Maki sushi was first believed to have been prepared by monks in the 13th century Kyoto temples. The preparation was vegetarian and quite delicious.
There are several types of maki sushi that you may like to try; these include hoso maki, futo maki and ura maki. The hoso maki is a thin roll and is usually vegetarian. It uses only one filling. On the other hand, the futo maki or the ‘fat roll’ can use two or three fillings. It is quite thick, about 1.5 inches wide and cut into small pieces. The ura maki is an inside out roll. As the name suggests in this type of sushi the seaweed is at the centre of the roll and the sushi rice is on the outside. If this is your first time at making sushi it is a good idea to first try your hand at the futo maki or the hoso maki, and try the ura maki once you are more confident of your skills. The temaki is also a kind of maki sushi. It is conical in shape, with the sushi rice and filling visible only from one end.
It is a good idea for you to go through a few sushi recipes before you decide on one that you would like to try. You will find that the process of making maki sushi remains pretty much the same. Your choice of fillings may change but the manner in which the sushi rice is prepared will remain constant. You may need to make the sushi rice a few times before you are able to prepare it exactly how you want it.
Things to Remember When Making Sushi
Cooking is a creative process and often requires improvisation. However, when it comes to your sushi rice it is important that you stick to the instructions. Please use sushi rice only, and don’t try to make sushi with any other rice. Sushi rice was developed because of the starch and sugar that it contains. It makes it perfect for creating rice that is sticky but doesn’t become like a paste. It is available at most grocery stores, and if you wish to you can also buy it online.
The Secret to Making Great Sushi
Well begun is half done, this phrase is true of most things in life, and also when it comes to making sushi. The sushi rice is the most important part of your sushi recipe. Making rice seems simple, right? Well it can be, but making sushi rice requires patience and precision. Did you know sushi chefs spend years learning to perfect the art of making sushi rice?
The sushi rice is well processed and often rice starch powder is added to it. This makes it necessary for you to wash the rice well. You should rinse the rice grains at least twice or thrice, until the water runs clean. Thereafter, let the water drain out well, you can use a sieve for this purpose. After about 10-15 minutes place the rice and an equal amount of water in the pot and cook it on high flame. Once the water begins to boil cover the pot with a tight lid and cook it on low flame for another 15 minutes. Don’t remove the lid during this period. Once the rice is cooked turn the heat off, remove the pot from the stove but don’t remove the lid. Allow the rice to rest for about 10 minutes.
While the rice cools down, it is time for you to make the shari-zu. The shari-zu is the rice vinegar, salt and sugar mix which will be added to the rice. Please do ensure that you buy rice vinegar that is unseasoned. Sushi chefs offer differ on the proportions for ingredients that they use to make the shari-zu. It is a good idea to begin with four tablespoons of rice vinegar, one teaspoon of salt and eight tablespoons of sugar for two cups of uncooked rice. When you prepare sushi rice regularly you can alter these proportions based on your taste.
You will need to add the shari-zu to the sushi rice only when has cooled down. It is a good idea to use a wooden spoon to spread the cooked rice on a wide wooden or glass bowl. It is best to avoid using a metal bowl as the vinegar may react when it comes in contact with the metal. The shari-zu needs to be well spread, so as to cover all the rice grains consistently. This process needs to be accomplished gently and in an unhurried manner. Take care not to mash the rice or damage the grains. After you have completed this step, cover the sushi rice with a moist kitchen towel, this will ensure that it doesn’t dry up.
Fillings and Toppings
Prepping your fillings properly is very important. When it comes to the vegetables, julienne them finely. Some popular choices for vegetables include avocado, cucumber, shitake mushrooms, sprouts, bell pepper, carrot, daikon radish, asparagus and lettuce. If your sushi recipe requires the use of fruits you may need to use fruits like pineapple, pear, mango and apple. The quality and freshness of your filling or topping will decide how great your sushi tastes.
Seafood choices for sushi lovers are wide and varied, and include eel, shrimp, crabmeat, salmon and tuna. If you are using raw fish, do make certain that it is sashimi grade. The fish should be firm and smooth to touch and should not look dull or dark. Make sure that the fillings that need preparation are ready for you to use by the time your sushi rice has cooled down. This is especially true of tempura.
When it is time to make the sushi roll, line your mat with plastic film and then place the noori seaweed sheet on it. Now gently place the sushi rice over it and spread it well. The filling will be lined up in the center over the rice. Traditionally the Japanese use odd number of fillings. It is important that you follow the instructions offered by the sushi recipe of your choice. Many recipes suggest that you place the seafood or meat over the vegetables. This way when the roll is ready, the seafood or meat is at the center.
Do remember not to overstuff the roll with fillings. Less is more is a good principle to bear in mind when it comes to the filling and topping for the sushi. You may like to add a touch of wasabi to your sushi before you are ready to roll. Once you have tightly rolled your sushi, carefully remove and place it on a platter with the seam down.
Cut the roll into pieces only when you are ready to serve and eat. Use a very sharp knife that has been dipped in vinegar and water solution. This will help the knife cut through the roll without the rice grains sticking to it. Gently cut the roll in half, and then cut each portion into three pieces. In other words, each roll will give you six bite sizes portions.
Some popular toppings for your sushi can include sesame seeds, chia seeds, avocado, thin slices of fish, shrimp and sprouts. You may like to choose a sauce that suits your palate. Some popular choices include spicy mayo, soy sauce and eel sauce.
If you find it hard to make a sushi roll, consider a sushi recipe for chirashi zushi or ‘scattered sushi’. In this case, a bed of sushi rice and vegetables is topped with raw fish. You can also use ingredients such as cucumber strips instead of seaweed.