The Salted Cod Makes Sushi

If you know me, you’ll know that I have a love/addiction relationship with sushi. I am not really sure when this started, but for a few years now I have been completely in love with Japan’s most famous export. While there are many good places for sushi in London, Birmingham, where I lived for three years, was a bit of a no-sushi-land. Since I couldn’t really afford (or justify) coming to London every weekend to get my sushi fix, I had to learn how to make it at home.

It might seem complicated at first, impossible even (and you might end up eating sushi at 2AM when you started at 7PM like when I first made sushi), but with a little preparation making sushi at home is not that difficult and is definitely worth it. So prepare yourselves, and embrace the sushi chef in you*

What you will need, for two people :

For the rice (double the recipe if you want to stuff yourself with sushi like me):

  • 250 grams of sushi rice (you can find this in most supermarkets these days and in all Chinese supermarkets in Chinatown).
  • 340 ml of cold water
For the sushi vinegar (to be mixed after the rice is cooked):
  • 60 ml rice vinegar (again available at most supermarkets and at all Chinatown supermarkets).
  • 30 ml Sugar
  • 5 ml Salt
For the Tezu mixture (to be used on the rice bowl and to handle your sushi):
  • 250 ml of water
  • 30 ml of rice vinegar
  • 5 ml of salt
For the sushi:
  • Sheets of Nori (available at some supermarkets, the Japan Centre, and most supermarkets in Chinatown).
  • Sushi rolling mat (same as above).
  • Your choice of very fresh fish: I am using 200 grams of tuna and one small mackerel (the easiest one to cut and use is salmon). It is essential that the fish is fresh, otherwise you are going to get tasteless and weirdly textured sushi.
  • Your choice of vegetables/fruit: I am using avocados, but cucumber or mango are great too.
  • You choice of condiments: I am using sriracha chilli sauce and mayonnaise for the spicy tuna rolls and spring onions.
  • Wasabi (you’re not going to get the real thing outside of Japan so just buy any you can find).
  • Soy sauce
Ok. So you want to have everything ready by the time your rice is cooked. Start by washing the rice. To do this put the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Move the rice around with your hands. You will see that the water becomes cloudy. Drain and repeat until the water is clear. Cover the rice with cold water and rest for 20 minutes. The rice should look like this before you cook it:
While the rice is resting prepare the Tezu and the sushi vinegar. For the Tezu just mix all ingredients in a bowl and put aside. For the sushi vinegar mix all ingredients in a saucepan and heat them until the sugar is dissolved. Then transfer it to a bowl and set aside for it to cool down. Now it’s on to cooking the rice. Put the rice and the 340ml of water in a pan which has a tight lid. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the water has evaporated. When the water has evaporated remove the pan from the heat and leave it to rest with the lid on for 10 minutes. While the rice is finishing cooking wet a wooden bowl with a bit of the Tezu. When the ten minutes have passed transfer the rice (carefully!) from the pan to the wooden bowl. Mix in the vinegar mixture little by little, until the rice cannot absorb any more liquid – you might not need the whole mixture. Now cover the rice with a tea towel and put it aside to cool down. The rice should look like this when cooked – sticky and fluffy:
While the rice is cooling down start preparing your fish. Start with the hardest ingredient to prepare so that everything keeps as fresh as possible. In this case I started with the mackerel which had to be filleted and de-boned. To do this (like for most fish) cut the fish just below the head and then slide the knife close to the spine to separate a clean filet. After this you will need to take the bones out (easy to do with tweezers) and to slide the filets off the skin (hold the filets from the tail/narrowest part of the fish and slide a sharp knife under it – it should slide down easily). If these instructions are not too clear you can find videos of this on youtube (which actually gave me the idea for our video demonstrations…), but the process goes more or less like this:      
Now to cut the fish for sashimi or nigiri. You want to use a very sharp knife and cut it against the grain of the fish.
The easiest fish to do this with the first time is salmon. All you have to do is take a corner and cut a slice diagonally against the grain. This ensures that the fish has a smooth texture, is more flavourful and is not chewy.
If you are preparing just nigiri, you can either use the same technique or you can finely chop the fish, depending on the kind of texture you are after. To make spicy tuna rolls (one of my favourites!) you will have to finely chop the tuna and mix it with some mayo and sriracha sauce. It should cover the fish completely but it should not be too gloopy – you want to taste the tuna.
Cut any other ingredients into slices so they can fit the sushi rolls. And now onto the rolling!
Start by preparing a clean surface and all your ingredients. You will also need you sushi rolling mat, and the nori sheets which you will have to cut to 3/4 of their size.
And now get ready for my incredible sushi making and Mr Salted Cod’s amazing filming skills! Here is a video tutorial of how to roll and cut  a sushi maki and how to prepare sushi nigiri.

I hope I have managed to turn everyone into sushi addicts by the end of this post! And please feel free to ask any questions – I am always happy to help a fellow sushi lover.

*I do not in any circumstance consider myself a sushi chef or a master in the art of sushi making..If you are either Japanese or a sushi chef please do not feel insulted by my attempts. It might not be the perfect recipe and might not follow every tradition you’re supposed to, but I really really like sushi and this is the way of making it at home.

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