Sushi 101

It took me a bloody decade to learn how to properly make sushi rice. I’m going to tell you right here and now so you won’t suffer the same fate.

Crab & matsutake dynamite

Once you’ve got the rice made, the rest is paint by numbers. Although you’ve gotta have a nice sharp knife and really fresh fish, which I get at the Japanese market. They’ve got everything I could want — toro, hamachi, albacore, uni, sweet shrimp, halibut, salmon, etc. If you live in a big city you’ll have no problem finding a Japanese market with sashimi-quality fish. If you live in a reasonably good town, you should at least be able to find some sashimi-grade ahi (Trader Joe’s has sashimi-grade ahi and frozen sashimi-grade scallops, which I’m gonna tell you how to make scallop “dynamite” with…) If you live in the country, you may have to settle for cooked shrimp.

Here’s how to do the rice:

1 cup short-grain white rice (Calrose or sushi rice)
2 cups water
1 tbsp. seasoned rice wine vinegar (or 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar and 1 tsp. sugar, mixed)

Rinse the rice in water: put the rice in the pot you intend to cook it in, and run some tap water over it. Swish it with your hand. It will become cloudy. Pour the water out, and repeat until it’s no longer cloudy (usually takes me 4 or 5 rinsings/swishings). Then cover with water and let sit for 15 minutes.

Drain the rice (all the water does not need to be drained, just most of it), add your 2 cups of water, cover and place on high heat. Once your rice begins to boil, cook for one minute. (You may need to lift the lid once or twice to prevent it from boiling over.) After the minute, turn to low, cover and cook for exactly five minutes. Once the five minutes is up, turn heat to high again and cook for 30 more seconds. Turn off and leave sitting, covered, for 20 minutes.

When the 20 minutes is up, remove lid and add vinegar, stirring very gently with a wooden spoon or spatula without breaking the rice kernels. When done, spread the rice within the pan and cover with a damp towel until ready to use.

For sushi, you’ll slice your piece of fish width-wise across the grain into sashimi-size pieces. Then you dampen your hands, take about a heaping teaspoon of rice in one palm, place two fingers from the other hand on top of it and fold your hand around it to form a small sushi rice patty. Repeat until you have as many rice balls as you have fish slices. Smear each with a dab of wasabi and place your sushi on top. “Irasshaimase!!!”

Or, you can make the ever-popular scallop dynamite, which I might happily point out makes ample use of mayonnaise (I made it in the above picture with king crab instead of scallops, and delicious matsutake mushrooms which are available in the fall at Japanese markets or in the woods near my mom’s house):

*   *   *

Scallop Dynamite

1/2 lb large scallops, cut in quarters
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup white onion, cut lengthwise into slivers
1/4 cup shelled edamame beans (soybeans)
Dash of chili sauce (Mexican, srirachi, whatever you’ve got…)
Dash of soy sauce
1/4 cup grated jack, mozzarella or colby cheese
toasted sesame seeds

Mix together all the above ingredients except the cheese and sesame seeds, being careful not to destroy the mushrooms in the process. Place in a small baking dish or a sheet of foil with the edges turned up. Sprinkle cheese over the top, and broil in a hot oven for 10 or 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove.

Put a scoop of sushi rice on each of two plates (four smaller scoops if you’re serving this as an appetizer) and flatten out slightly. Carefully divide the dynamite between the two plates, scooping on top of the rice (you don’t want one guy to get all the yummy golden cheesy part). Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. alex
    Nov 02, 2010 @ 20:29:56

    Sorry dude but I’m gonna have to disagree with your sushi rice preparation.
    I usually use a 1 C. of rice to 1 1/2 of water ratio, cooking time is 14 minutes, it then sits without heat for another couple of minutes and the use a rice vinegar/sugar mixture at the end. This is an atempt to reproduce the proper flavor traditionally sushi rice used to be slightly fermented.


    • scolgin
      Nov 02, 2010 @ 21:00:42

      Whatever roads lead to the right place. I learned this from Nobu Matsuhisa. Most sensible people probably just use a rice cooker. The rinsing is über important, though…


  2. Lisa Gaskin
    Nov 03, 2010 @ 03:55:59

    Not Mayonnaise!!!


  3. dina
    Nov 04, 2010 @ 02:42:21

    ok- I got inspired to make sushi last night for the first time.
    It came out great- I doubled the recipe and made a huge quantity of sushi. There wasn’t a crumb of it left!


  4. Ben
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 18:09:30

    I have to admit that I gave up on sushi at home. I thought I was pretty bad ass cutting blue-fin at home with my fantastic new Shun, but I got pretty sick of making the maki rolls. It requires TONS of mis-en-plas to make rolls like you have at sushi bars. Now I’m feeling bad and feel like I should try again . . . Hey, at least I still have that awesome knife. (Only culinary challenge left is to make croissants. Have you done that one yet?)


    • scolgin
      Feb 14, 2011 @ 18:15:27

      Plenty of culinary challenges left, my friend. Like the entire cuisine of China. My neighbor, Glennis, has taken up making croissants. I take her mushroom hunting, she gives us croissants. A nice trade off.


  5. Trackback: OMG! Omakase! | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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