Going out for sushi is an incredibly fun thing to do. The salty flavors, the fillings, the sticky rice... The whole experience is top-notch.
Like many other foods, we might assume that sushi is best left to restaurants and chefs who know what they're doing and who have been making sushi for a really long time. That's actually not the case. Any home cook can absolutely give homemade sushi a shot... and they should because it's a really enjoyable meal to make. Plus, it's always cool to learn new skills.
Here are 10 hacks that every home cook should try. Homemade sushi, here we come.
10. Buy A Rice Cooker
What would sushi be without rice? Basically nothing, which is why every home cook wants to take rice seriously when they try their hand at making sushi at home.
According to the Denver Post, getting a rice cooker is a really good thing: "A cooker makes rice consistently each time and allows you to cook the rice without constantly watching or stirring, providing time to prep the other ingredients. It’s hard to make good sushi rice in a sauce pan."
If you've ever eaten sushi in a restaurant and thought, "This rice is amazing, how do they do it?" now you have your answer.
9. Use Nori Sheets
When we think of sushi, we definitely think of rice, as noted above, but there are some other flavors that can be incorporated when making sushi at home.
Have you heard of nori before? It's seaweed with a salty flavor that is totally craveworthy.
This tip for making sushi at home involves buying nori and making sure that it's easier to deal with by making it smaller: "And while the professionals can easily roll sushi with full size sheets or nori, I suggest that beginners cut the sheets in half and work with that size. Having a smaller sheet of nori gives you more control over the sushi roll."
8. Cut Vegetables This Way
You have your rice and your fish, but what about other ingredients for your homemade sushi? Vegetables are a good idea and everyone has had thin vegetables in the sushi rolls ordered in restaurants or from favorite take-out places.
There is a way to do this and you can definitely try it in our own kitchens.
Peas and Crayons suggests that you julienne the vegetables that you'll use for your sushi. This is a fancy cooking technique that basically means cutting something into super skinny pieces. Adding some new kitchen skills is always a good idea, and you'll enjoy how pretty these rolls look.
7. Know Your Fish
If rice is a magic ingredient in sushi, so is fish. But not just any fish, of course. Home cooks might be feeling like there's too much to learn about how to purchase fish for making sushi, but there are a few simple tips to remember.
Denver Post interviewed Ryan Foote, a fishmonger at Whole Foods (Boulder), who talked about how to purchase fish that is sushi-grade.
He says to purchase fish that isn't stinky ("a strong smell indicates the fish is old"), fish fillets and not steaks, "fish that's smooth and firm to the touch, not slimy" and fish that is colorful because that means it's still fresh.
6. Water Is Key
If you're thinking that you're going to be touching rice while you turn your kitchen into a sushi-making paradise, you're on the right track there. And you might be wondering how you're going to stop your hands from getting too messy.
Another tip is to use water when making sushi at home: "It can get quite sticky, so make sure that you have a small bowl of water nearby so that you can wash your fingers off whenever they get too covered with rice!"
Isn't this so genius?! We're pretty sure that you could use this tip when dealing with any other type of food that gets all over your hands.
5. More Water
Sushi FAQ also says that water is a key ingredient when making homemade sushi, but this hack is about a wet knife (but not super wet since, of course, that's not the best idea).
The post says, "Keep your knife blade barely wet when cutting your maki (cut roll). This will facilitate a clean cut so as to not crush the roll. A good way to do this is to dip the knife tip in a bowl of water and turn it so that the tip points up. Tap the handle on the table to let gravity do the work of sending the water down the cutting edge."
4. The Perfect Rice
CNN passed on some amazing advice from chef Masaki Teranishi who talked about how to make the perfect rice for sushi.
He said to season rice with Japanese rice wine, sugar, salt, and vinegar, and to add that to the cooked rice after it's been cooled down (and he suggests a fan for that job). "The rice should be gently slapped into shape using two fingers and a cupped palm." Teranishi said, "Don't squeeze. The gathering of the rice should be done by slapping using strength from one's wrist, so the rice sticks together without pushing out the air between the rice."
3. You Don't Need A Bamboo Sushi Mat
So you're all set to make sushi at home. You have your rice, the best fish, your julienned vegetables, and yet something is holding you back.
Oh yeah. You might think that you have to use a bamboo mat to roll the sushi.
Minimalist Baker has a great post on making sushi at home and says that you can use a towel instead of a bamboo mat: "A thick towel acts just like a bamboo mat and also wipes up your mess when you’re done: win-win. Because it’s so flexible it allows you to shape and roll the rice effortlessly into a beautiful roll."
2. Set Everything Up And Cut Into Rolls
Peas and Crayons also gives this awesome advice: put your toppings in a row on your kitchen counter (such as your nori sheets, then your rice, then fish and vegetables), and then start putting your sushi rolls together in order of ingredients. This is essentially a 'mise en place' - something that every great chef always has ready in the kitchen.
After that, you'll have a huge piece of sushi, basically, and you'll cut that into smaller sushi rolls.
1. Saran Wrap To The Rescue
This tip from Peas and Crayons couldn't possibly be smarter: use saran wrap when cutting sushi into rolls. As this food blogger wrote in a great post about making sushi rolls in your own kitchen, "Slice into bite-sized discs with a freshly sharpened chef’s knife. If you’re topping your sushi with sashimi or avocado, first tightly wrap the roll in plastic wrap prior to slicing. This will keep everything neat and pretty an avoid the horrific act of flinging avocado slices all over the kitchen. Though if that sounds like fun to you, fling away! I’ll stick with the saran wrap."
Sushi night tonight?!