10 layman’s tips for a homemade sushi dinner
I recently went to a sushi making class, run by Makiko at Suzu in Hammersmith, London. It was a fantastic 2 hours. She really knows her sushi.
Sushi is a fantastic dish for multiple special diets – from gluten free to diet, and is a lot easier to make than I realised. You can make it in advance and it is a great food for summer and picnic season. So many reasons to try making your own sushi! And don't stop there. try it for a tasty and healthy start to your next dinner party.
As easy as sushi is, there are some big pitfalls, from food poisoning to a floppy roll...Here are my top tips for a tip-top sushi dinner:
1. Make sure you have the right kit for making and serving your sushi. All the items on this list can be purchased in a big supermarket or your local Asian store. You will need:
- A bamboo mat (they cost up to £2) – which you need to tightly wrap in Clingfilm to stop the rice sticking and keep your mat clean for the next time.
- Seaweed sushi wrap (nori)
- Sushi rice and sushi vinegar
- Grapeseed oil or a similar light oil that will not overpower the flavour of the fish. You rub this on your hands so that the rice doesn’t stick to your fingers when handling the sushi.
- Sushi grade fish and any other fillings (see below)
- A good quality Japanese soy sauce – some make a special sushi variety with extra ingredients like mirin.
- A good quality wasabi.
- Some good quality pickled ginger. The Japanese only eat the ginger to cleanse the palate between different fish and I have to say, having tried the approach, I agree.
2. Only buy sushi-grade fish (unless you want a very short dinner party). Supermarket fish will not be fresh enough. You really need to go to a fishmonger and ask.
3. If you can, avoid Mondays and Tuesdays as Billingsgate fresh fish market is closed on Mondays. (This is a typical example of the great tips you get from sushi pro Mikako).
4. Check if any of your guests are vegetarian or other special diets. The great thing about sushi is that there are plenty of options for friends special diets:
- Paleo & Dukan – all fish is fine but serve without rice
- Gluten free – rice is gluten free but you should get gluten free soy sauce and wasabi
- Vegetarian & Vegan – Tofu, avocado and cucumber are easy options
- Shellfish allergy – avoid all prawns, crab etc
- Pregnant – try cooked fish (salmon is good) and meat (thinly sliced marinated beef or pork work well) options as well as vegetarian
- Children – sushi can be brilliant as easy finger food. Try tinned tuna, spring onion and mayo
5. Making good sushi rice is key to good sushi! You’ll need 3 cups rice (600ml), washed through for a good few minutes and allow it to drain for half an hour. Pour it into a saucepan with 3 cups or 600ml water and heat to medium with the lid on for 13 minutes. Put on low heat for 30 seconds and take off the heat for 15 minutes. Spoon into a wide bowl, mix in the sushi vinegar and allow to cool.
6. Make your sushi rice ahead. Keep it out of the fridge or the sushi is too solid to mould. It last up to 10 hours.
7. When patting a thin layer of sushi onto your seaweed wrap (before laying on the fillings and rolling), leave a 2 cm across one of the lengths empty. That way it’ll roll up neatly without rice squeezing out (like most of my early attempts, I am sure you will still think you don’t need the WHOLE 2cm…. but trust me, you do).
8. Don’t overfill. I know you will. But just don’t! It’s a bit like what happened when you overfill fajitas. Ugly.
9. Use a really sharp knife for cutting your sushi rolls to give them the cleanest edges possible.
10. Wipe the knife each time you cut the sushi. The rice is sticky and will make your next cut quite messy if left on the knife.
Most importantly, have fun and be creative. Jen G does a great Spam Sushi recipe and Mikako has great ideas in her book Sushi Slim.