Today I really fancied sushi. Mainly because I had some smoked salmon in the fridge that needed eating and the night before I’d gorged on creamy salmon pasta. The salmon had to be used up and it wasn’t going to be on salmon pasta. I had to be more inventive than that!
I decided, having had a delicious mackerel pate at a friend’s over the weekend, that I was going to make salmon pate. A quick look through my overcrowded cupboards and fridge revealed that not only was there any of the requisite cream cheese, but nothing else that could stand in for it. At least, after coming across an unexpected (and probably out of date) packet of sushi nori sheets and a new sushi rolling mat that all the signs were pointing to… sushi. I even had avocado.
I’ve never made sushi before. It feels like it’s a tiresome job and one that’s best left to those who can get the rice just right. I almost gave up before I started reading all the various ways one ‘should’ cook sushi rice. And who knew it had things like brown rice vinegar and water in it?
Anyway, since I learnt a lot whilst making this, I thought I’d share how I made my first sushi and where I went wrong. Learn from my mistakes!
You can watch the speeded-up video here:
How to Make Sushi
STEP 01: Prepare your ingredients
It’s so important to have everything you need at your fingertips. Otherwise, it just gets crazy and annoying. Out of all these, the one thing that needs preparation is the rice. To make enough for 5 small sushi rolls, add a cup of uncooked sushi rice to a saucepan and rinse well. This may take several goes until the water runs clear. I’ve also discovered insects in my rice before (dead) so it’s really important to wash any rice before you eat it. I doubt it’ll do you much harm if you do swallow some bugs but I’d avoid it if you can. Fill the saucepan up with cold water, to a level twice as high as the rice. Put on a low heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Turn it off and cover with a lid for another 10 minutes. What I realised is that you really do need to work with cold rice. Yes, it’s boring having to wait but trust me, it’s essential. Check that the rice is ready by ensuring all water has been absorbed. The rice should be cooked through and soft, although it shouldn’t have turned into a gooey mess. Fan the cooked rice to remove some of the steam and moisture. Once cold, add 4 tsp of rice vinegar to the rice, stirring it through with a paddle or wooden spoon. I like this one from Mokio (yes, that is my site but I love it and it’s the only rice paddle I’d ever use). Be careful not to smoosh the rice together – you still want the grains to be separate so be gentle.
STEP 02: Lay out your seaweed and add your first layer
I used a chopping board to lay everything on – this stops your workplace from getting dirty (some of the rice and ingredients can escape the bamboo mat). Place your rolling mat then the seaweed on the chopping board. Using a spoon and your fingers, add a thin layer of rice from the bottom to a third of the way up. I went up too high and my layer was thicker than it needed to be. Make sure you get it to the edges of the seaweed and as even as possible. I used my finger to press it down lightly.
STEP 03: Don’t forget the wasabi
Depending on how much you like wasabi (I don’t like it much but then I don’t really care for mustard either) spread a layer horizontally across the rice. This ensures everyone gets some wasabi on their piece of sushi.
STEP 04: Add your ingredients, one by one
I started with the salmon as I figured it would be flatter than the avocado. I put down two layers but in hindsight I could have put more in.
STEP 05: Add more ingredients
I only had one more to add: avocado. There’s so much more I could have added though – cucumber, lettuce, carrot – it’s your sushi so your choice. My chopping of the avocado was less refined than it should have been. I know from looking at it on my sushi rice that this would cause problems…
STEP 06: Start rolling
The beginning of the roll is the hardest I think. For a start, you need to ensure the bottom of the seaweed rolls into the board and doesn’t just smoosh along the top – that would be disastrous. By really folding the sushi mat up and over, I managed to catch the end to start the rolling process. I also tried to tuck it in as much as I could.
STEP 07: Keep on rolling
As I discovered, the trick it to keep the pressure on all the way up and to roll your sushi off the top of the mat. Otherwise, you find that you have a flappy end bit. And no one wants one of those.
STEP 08: Roll back down
You can relax the pressure at this stage although make sure your sushi is definitely ‘sealed’ before you roll down again.
STEP 09: Slice up and serve
Wahay! Your sushi is official! All that’s left now is to chop it up. This is also a test of your rolling skills as it has to be firm for you to cut into it easily – without tension you can end up battling with the seaweed wrapper. Make sure you use a sharp knife and if it’s really too much, start it off with a serrated one but be gentle and only move the knife one way – don’t saw into it as that will cause jagged edges; usually you only need one cut per piece to start it off.
Serve immediately with wasabi and soya sauce on the side.
I’m so enamoured with my first attempt I’m keen to make more. Anyone got any ideas for what they’ve made before or what I should try?