When it comes to the kitchen, we all have things we wish we knew how to make. Whether that’s a crème brûlée or a beef bourguignon, we’re all eagerly learning new tricks in the kitchen since we’ve been in lockdown. For me, however, it’s the art of sushi making. And as it turns out, it’s not as difficult as you might think.
From sourcing the best fresh ingredients to finding the right knife for the job, there are a few simple ways you can become a sushi pro in the kitchen too. With lockdown still in place for at least another month, why not give it a go yourself. You’ll never want to buy shop bought sushi again.
Here’s how to get started.
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Sushi making is all in the prime ingredients: sushi rice and nori. These are the two prime ingredients you’ll need but there are a few other affordable bits that can help enhance the flavour and outcome.
My first tip, don’t just use the excess basmati rice you have lying in your kitchen cupboard. Using sushi rice really does make a difference to the taste, texture and, well, it’s vital to the traditional Japanese dish. Whether you buy the sushi rice in a bag, you’re using a pot and pan method, or you have a rice cooker you can use on hand, make sure you cook it for the suggested time on the packet and follow the instructions fully. Basically the rice needs to be sticky but not stodgy, and it will need to be left to sit and cool fully before you assemble the rolls.
Sushi making is all in the prime ingredients: sushi rice and nori.
If you’re following a recipe or tutorial, it’s always advised to add a splash of rice vinegar to your rice after cooking. It’ll help add a nice flavour and depth to the rice.
There are a few extra ingredients you can purchase to help spice up your sushi too, including pickled ginger to add a bit of depth, soy sauce to dip the sushi into and wasabi to add a little fire to your meal. Black sesame seeds also make great additions too especially if you’re looking to recreate your favourite restaurant California roll.
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Don’t skip on the sauces
Of course there’s nothing wrong with just dipping your sushi into soy or soy mixed with wasabi, but to really take your sushi up a notch to compete with your favourite restaurant experience, you’ll want to mix up a nice sauce.
You can never go wrong with a squirt of sriracha, can you? Add another element and make a spicy mayo or make a tangy teriyaki sauce to accompany your sushi bites.
Or on the fresh veggies
When most people think of sushi, they think about the fish involved. From salmon to mackerel, tuna to squid, you can pick and choose what suits you and your tastebuds.
But don’t skimp on the fresh veggies too. Whether you’re plant-based or not, fresh vegetables are also great additions to your sushi too. Thin strips of cucumber and pepper are traditional too in vegetarian sushi, plus you can never go wrong with an avocado roll either.
Don’t forget to buy the right equipment
Sushi making is all in the presentation too. Just look at some of London’s leading Japanese restaurants and their presentation execution including Sexy Fish and ROBATA. These restaurants are renowned for their presentation and flavour combos, but while you’re stuck inside, give your own techniques a try.
Pair your perfectly executed sushi alongside a nice platter and pimp up your soy sauce with these adorable sauce dishes from the Made in Japan online store. Chopsticks are also essential. If you’re still getting used to using them, that’s totally fine. It makes the whole experience more fun too.
Without stating the obvious, you are obviously going to need to invest in a sushi rolling mat too (duh) but these are always reasonably priced and can be used time and time again. On your next supermarket run make sure to stock up on some cling film too because it’s great to wrap around the sushi rolling mat to help preserve the bamboo and just makes it easier to deal with when you’re putting the sticky rice in place.
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The right knife for the job
Step away from the blunt kitchen knife you’ve been using for countless years, it’s time to invest in a real and effective Japanese knife.
Of course there are thousands available online, all with their different benefits, and you can end up spending a fortune on them. But we’ve whittled out three of our favourite affordably priced knives designed with sushi in mind.
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It’s all in the technique
Learning the art of rolling does take a little time and patience. A simple and easy hack to help you out is by wrapping your rolling mat in cling film to stop your sushi rice from sticking to the mat. What helped me learn is by watching YouTube video after YouTube video to really understand the process, partaking in a workshop guided by experts, and then trialling it out in real life.
Once you’ve aced a standard maki roll, you can switch it up and dip in and out of trying California rolls, nigiri and temaki.
Remember practice makes perfect
Noone became a sushi master overnight. Like most things, sushi is a skill that will only get better with practice. Even if they aren’t perfectly rolled, they’ll still taste delicious regardless.
Need a little extra convincing?
If you’re not ready to commit to buying all of the kit just yet, there are several online tutorials and workshops you can participate in to learn the skills at home to see if it’s right for you.
Last week I took part in one of The Avenue Cookery School’s online sushi workshops and had a total blast! Their expert chefs guide you through each process step-by-step and make the whole experience really enjoyable and interactive. It’s a great one to do with friends, family or colleagues too, much better than your usual weekly Zoom quiz, plus they send you out an easy starter kit too so all you need to do is add in some fresh ingredients into the mix.
We also love YouTuber and cookbook author Wil Yeung’s online vegan sushi masterclasses too. He’s crafted five really easy and simple to follow masterclasses guiding you through each process of sushi making. You’ll learn the ins and outs of sushi making, plus five different styles of sushi you can follow along with and make at home for yourself.