Arguably the most well known way to eat raw fish, sushi is a vast and delicious form of seafood. Maki (sushi roll) and Nigiri (fish on top of rice) are two great styles of sushi that anyone can do at home with the right tools and a little practice. Essentials like nori seaweed, or zu and soy sauce can be complemented with useful, but optional tools like the hangiri (bamboo rice cooling bowl) or a bamboo mat. But the absolutes in sushi are premium sashimi grade fish and great rice! While the rice may take you some time to master (2-20 years for a sushi chef) there is no reason you can’t have fun along your journey.
- 1½ cups sushi rice - a short grain (330g)
- 1½ cups cold water (360ml)
- ½ cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1-1¼ pounds sashimi grade fish (we like coho and king salmon, halibut, or cooked crab)
- 4-5 sheets of Nori, cut in half (unless you want a bigger roll)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced the length of the nori sheet
- 1 large avocado, thinly sliced
- Wasabi powder or paste
- Soy sauce (light or dark)
- Pickled ginger (optional)
- Sushi Tools:
- Bamboo rolling mat
- Hangiri (optional, but wonderful)
- Rice paddle
Make Rice & Zu
Weigh out or measure your dry sushi rice 1 ½ cups (330g) and rinse it about three times or until the water is no longer cloudy or white. Do this by adding cold water to the rice in a bowl and stir with your hand, strain and repeat. Place rice in cooking pot and add 1 ½ cups cold water into the pot and let the rice soak for 15 minutes to soften.
Bring rice and water to a quick boil over medium high heat. The moment consistent bubbles form along the edge of the pot, turn the heat down to very low and cover tightly with a lid. (See tips for tight sealing a pot.) Set timer for 10 minutes (this may vary by stove, so take notes and adjust if needed for the next time).
While rice is cooking, make the zu. In a small bowl combine rice vinegar, salt and sugar until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Place zu in fridge.
After 10 minutes remove from heat, do not open the lid. Set aside for 9 minutes (again this may vary depending on stove). After 9 minutes take off the lid and test the rice. It should be tender and sticky with a very slight chew. Take a rice paddle or flat wooden spoon and gently turn the rice out into a wet hangiri (bamboo cooling bowl) or a large dry glass/pyrex bowl.
Then immediately, while rice is still hot, “dry paddle” your zu (rice seasoning) over the rice. With the paddle in one hand slowly pour the zu over the paddle and above the rice while swinging in a sideways chopping motion back and forth over the rice. This will evenly spread the zu and cool the rice at the same time. Once all of the zu is poured, use the paddle to gently sideways chop and throw the rice while spreading it across the bowl. Do not mash. The goal is to spread the rice, distribute the zu and cool the rice all at the same time. Then gather the rice back together in the center of the hangiri or pyrex bowl and spread and chop one more time. After spreading two times, gently collect the rice and place it on a wet cotton towel, pressing very gently together. Place rice back into the bowl, turn it over and remove the towel. Cover the bowl with the wet towel to keep the rice from drying out. Place rice aside. Not in the fridge.
Make Maki (Sushi Rolls)
Slice fish into strips, against the grain when possible, in 1/8- to 1/4-inch wide and the same length as the nori sheet, if possible. Set fish aside.
Pour a bowl of water for dipping your hands. Lay out the bamboo rolling mat and place a sheet of nori, shiny side down, at the very bottom of the mat. Dip your hands in the water to lightly coat them and then take about a “cue ball”-sized handful of rice in your palm and place it in the center of the nori sheet. Then gently and without mashing use your fingers to evenly spread the rice out to cover all edges and sides. Be careful to leave about 1/4 inch at the top of the nori sheet without rice. On the area of nori without rice, place about 4-5 individual rice grains to help create a good seal when you get ready to roll.
After the rice has been gently spread across the nori sheet, sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Place a slice of fish on the lower third of the sheet across the entire width. Then add the accoutrements of cucumber, avocado, your other favorites, or just more fish! Be very careful not to overload the roll, less is more here.
Lift up the bottom edges of the bamboo mate with the nori sheet still at the bottom of the mat and while keeping the fish and veg in place, roll the mat and the nori sheet over and onto itself creating a cylinder shape. Gently pull the mat and the nori sheet along the entire length of the roll onto itself in order to tighten and secure the fish and accoutrements. Finally, roll the nori sheet completely over, sealing the rice grains at the top to the back side of the nori sheet. Then gently squeeze and slide your hand over the entire mat with the roll inside to create an even seal. Lastly, unroll the mat and set aside, seam side down to help reinforce the seal. Repeat these steps as long as you are hungry.
When ready to slice, wet the tip and blade of a thin-bladed knife and with one stroke cut through the roll to make a 1/2 inch individual bite-size maki. Lightly dip the maki in soy sauce, top with wasabi, or both. Cleanse palette with saki, beer or ginger when needed.
Make Nigiri (Fish on Rice)
First, thinly slice fish into 1-1 1/2 inch wide and 2 inch long pieces. If using king salmon, sablefish (or any fatty fish) try to slice with the grain. Most other fish you can slice against the grain to aid in the tenderness. Set fish slices in the fridge to keep chilled.
Make sushi rice (see above).
Remove fish from the fridge and pour a bowl of water and wet your hands. Place 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of rice gently into your palm, holding it like you would a baby bird. With your opposite hand, point your index and middle finger up and together, then gently but firmly place them on top of the rice in your cupped hand and press down. Curve your fingers slightly at the same time and hold for 3 seconds. Lift your fingers and gently rotate the rice “pillow” 180 degrees to repeat the finger press and curve one more time and hold for 3 seconds.
Still holding the rice “pillow,” carefully take a dab (optional) of wasabi and lightly spread it across the top. Then, place a slice of fish on top of the rice. With those same two fingers press the fish and the rice together very gently so they are just connected.
Place the nigiri on a plate and repeat as many times as you are hungry. For a twist, try a burst of citrus with squeeze of lemon or brush toasted sesame oil for added umami.
- The zu will keep in a fridge for months.
- A spice or pepper shaker works great for even sesame seed distribution on your maki.
- If your nori sheets seem a little stale, wave them over an open flame like a gas stove to crisp them up.
- Leaving nori sheets whole is a good way to learn the maki rolling technique, but Richie recommends using half sheets as soon as you get the basic roll figured out.
- Keep rice warmish or around room temp before making sushi. Cold rice will damage the texture.
- Too tight of a roll will squash and destroy the fish and too loose will fall apart. “Goldilocks” those rolls.
- The nigiri is seemingly more simple, but this takes a lifetime for sushi masters. Give yourself some grace.
- Real wasabi is hard to find. The powdered version is generally superior to what is sold in tubes. Just rehydrate with a little warm water.
- Maki and nigiri are meant to be eaten in one bite so do not make your pieces too big.
- Your rice cooking pot should be high sided and smallish. 2-3 qt heavy sauce pots work best for this recipe.
- For a tight seal on your rice cooking pot, place a thin towel between the lid and the pot. Be careful with the stove’s heat and fold the remaining towel corners up and over the pot lid so it doesn't start on fire.
- Wet your hangiri before putting the rice in to help it from sticking.
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Wild at Home
with Richie Mann
He slices, he dices, he eats raw fish—gasp—but only if it's premium sashimi-grade seafood! It's time to get Wild at Home™, in this episode Richie guides us through the basics of crafting sushi.
Can't get enough? Find more episodes here.