So you’ve never made sushi before? Maybe you’ve never even had Japanese food before? No problem! Sushi might seem like a really difficult and tricky food to make, let me tell you, it’s not much harder than learning how to cook other things. I’m not suggesting that everyone can become a GREAT sushi chef overnight, but it’s definitely not tough to become a pretty decent sushi chef pretty quickly. Here are my suggestions for beginners:
1. Get a really, really sharp knife to cut your sushi with. I can’t stress how important this is. The seaweed, or nori is really tough to cut, and if you use a dull knife, you run the risk of just crushing or squashing the roll while you’re cutting it. Just find the very sharpest knife you can, or order a special sushi-cutting knife from our sushi store and then you’ll be set.
2. Don’t assume any old rice will do. Cause it won’t. For real. If you’re going to cook rice to make sushi, you really need a brand of Japanese short-grained rice. This is different from the long-grained rice that we eat in the West, or the fragrant basmati rice they eat in Southeast Asia. Just get short grained Japanese rice. I like the Nishiki brand, but any will do. If you absolutely can’t find a store selling Japanese short-grained rice, another short-grained rice can substitute, like arborio rice.
3. Don’t spread the rice too thick on the nori. I definitely did this for my first few rolls. The rice should be spread really thinly; you should still be able to see bits of green seaweed here and there.
4. Don’t assume any raw fish will do. Cause it won’t. You can’t go to your local supermarket and pick up a hunk of raw salmon, and expect it to taste like what you eat at the sushi restaurant. Not only will it not taste as fresh, but it might get you sick! Use sashimi-grade raw fish, and never buy it on a “day-old special”. You want fresh!
5. Eat the ends of your maki rolls as you work. They’ll keep you from keeling over with hungry while you prepare sushi for your friends, and it makes sure that the sushi you present to your friends will always be pretty!
6. Dip the knife in hot water before you start cutting. It does wonders to keep the rice from sticking to the blade.
7. Periodically dip your fingers in water while you are spreading the rice on the seaweed to keep it from sticking to your hands!
8. Don’t be afraid to mix vegetables or fish in a maki roll that you’ve never seen at a restaurant before. Experiment! Have fun!
9. If you don’t have a rice cooker, just bite the bullet and get one. You can make it on the stovetop, and I have a recipe for it on this site, but the rice cooker is just so much easier. Plus, if you get a rice cooker/breadmaker, you could have fresh bread as often as you want.
10. When cutting up a cucumber into strips to use in a recipe, like a California roll, first cut the cucumber in half. Then use a small spoon like a half-teaspoon measure to gouge out the seeds and flesh around them. This keeps the seed-removal process neat and efficient. Eat the seeds. They taste like cucumber, and they’re good for you.
That’s all I can think of for now. Maybe I’ll do a part 2 if I think of more. What are your favorite sushi making tips that you’d like to share with a beginner? Put it in the comments.