Sashimi For You & Me
Salmon? Check! Tuna? Check! Rice? Check! Let’s roll!!
I love sushi! The flavors are fresh, delicate and unique. And the raw whole foods are not only delicious but also very nutritious. Additionally, eating sushi at a nice restaurant can be an exotic experience. But let’s be honest: it can also be an expensive habit. If you also love raw fish and need to find ways to easily get your “fix”, you’re in luck.
Today I’m going to show you how simple it is to make your own sashimi sushi at home. With these tips you should be able to sate your cravings, save money, and impress your dinner guests with an all can eat sushi buffet!
The most popular kinds of sushi are:
- Maki (Makizushi or Norizushi): fresh fish and/or vegetables with sushi rice rolled inside dried seaweed. Typically cut into six bite-sized pieces.
- Nigiri: sliced fish pressed on top of a bite of sushi rice
- Sashimi: sliced fish served as-is
- Uramaki: “inside-out roll”, like maki but with the seaweed rolled inside the rice
- Temaki: “handroll”, same ingredients as maki but rolled into a cone shape and left uncut so the diner can pick it up and eat by hand
There are many other kinds of sushi, but these are the ones that relate closest to what we’re making today. We’re going to slice sashimi sushi. And then we can use those fresh slices in any way we like.
Buying sushi-grade fish
High-quality fish is central to our meal. So it is essential to find your local source of “sushi-grade” / “sashimi-grade” fish. You will not typically see packaging or signs that say “sushi-grade salmon” or “sushi-grade” tuna. But if you do a search on the internet, you should be able to find a highly-rated seafood market. Or if you ask nicely, some sushi restaurants may tell you where they source their fish. In any case, you probably want to avoid the prepackaged fillets at your local grocery store.
One thing to note is: don’t think that you have to buy fresh fish. In fact, fish that has previously been frozen is often preferred by sushi restaurants. Freezing the fish ensures that any parasites have been killed. This is critical for any freshwater fish, which includes salmon. But make sure the fish has been frozen only once. Repeated thawing and freezing of any meat causes the cells to breakdown. This would surely ruin the delicate texture of your fish.
How to cut sashimi sushi
Traditional sushi chefs are extremely well-trained. In fact, the average sushi chef takes ten years to learn the intricacies of their trade. They follow very strict guidelines to make perfect sushi. Out of respect to these artists, Japanese diners traditionally do not add any sauces to finished sushi (except maybe a small touch of wasabi or soy sauce).
But we are not professional sushi chefs! So we’re going to make simple cuts. And then you can add any combination of flavors and sauces that you like! Because, YOLO!
Sushi cutting tips:
- Use an extremely sharp knife with a long, smooth blade! (no serrated edges)
- Slice perpendicular to length of fish. (i.e., “against the grain”)
- No sawing! Make long, slow, easy strokes and let the sharp blade do the work.
- Slices should be a little less than 1/2″ thick.
- Do not hold the fish. You don’t want it warm!
- Arrange slices on a slightly cooled plate
What else do I need for sushi at home?
Now that we know how to select our fish and slice it, let’s consider all the other ingredients for our fancy-looking meal.
- Sushi rice
- Nori (dried seaweed paper)
- Gari (pickled ginger)
- Spicy mayo
- Soy sauce
- Masago (capelin/smelt roe)
- Lemon slices (for salmon)
- Veggies: thinly sliced cucumber, avocado, sprouts
Sushi rice is made by cooking short-grain white rice, and mixing with rice vinegar, sugar and salt. To help keep things simple, I like to use seasoned rice vinegar because it already has the appropriate salt and sugar included. While the cooked rice is still hot, add about 1/4 cup of the pre-seasoned rice vinegar to 3 cups of rice. Fold it in gently so as not to smash the rice grains. It may look at bit wet to start, but should dry a bit as the rice cools and vinegar is absorbed. You know it’s ready when the rice grains are shiny and plump. And then serve while the rice is still warm.
Full sheets of nori can be used if you are making maki rolls. But if you are making personal “hand rolls”, cut the seaweed sheets into quarters.
Gari (pickled ginger) is meant to be eaten by itself, after you’ve had a piece of sushi. This cleanses and refreshes your palate so you can fully taste the next bite. As a bonus, ginger helps with digestion and also kills bacteria.
Wasabi can be purchased as a paste or as a dry powder that you get to reconstitute with water. If you are using powder, be sure to prepare it ahead of time. And cover it with plastic wrap in order to lock in the flavor and increase its intensity. Add just a bit to each bite to add some kick.
Spicy mayonnaise is not a traditional sushi sauce, but it is definitely popular among “modern” sushi lovers. My version is a simple mixture of: real mayo, chili oil, sriracha, and a squeeze of lemon/lime. Start with mayonnaise then stir in the other ingredients to your preferred level of heat.
The only other thing to consider is timing. Make sure you procure and/or prep all the above items before you start slicing your fish, so that you’re ready to serve them all at the same time.
And now the really fun part! Present the above spread, and dig in! You can eat the fish by itself. Or with just a bit of rice. But I personally like to stack a bit of everything into a piece of seaweed paper, and wrap into a small hand roll. And the best part is: everybody gets to make the bites they love. Oh, and if you’re on a keto diet, just skip the rice!
If you like to drink it warm: Tyku Junmai
A fresh, slightly sweet taste. Subtle pear notes. Soft and silky on the palate. Well-rounded.
If you like to drink it cold: Kikusui Junmai Ginjo
A citrusy and confidently smooth beginning with a gradual thickening viscosity that ends in a slightly salty aftertaste. Dry, sharp and smooth according to most, this Ginjo sits well in the mouth and will tease you with sweet fruit tones and a dry finish.
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