Leaving New York has become synonymous with sushi. On the last day of every visit, my best friend Queenie and I get together for one hell of a sushi feast leaving me in a fish coma until I waddle to the airport the next day. It’s become a tradition, one that makes me salivate like Pavlov’s dog the second I step off the plane in NYC.
In addition to the glorious company and delicious fish morsels, each time more confidence is gained that perhaps I can actually achieve a lovely sushi meal at home instead of always relying on trained professionals. It always seemed so complicated, and out of reach. Not sure why when I really think about it. It’s not like I’m going to overcook the fish.
So this last go around, I did my best to pay attention to the task at hand instead of just leaving it up to the experts. Luckily, the Queen was kind enough to slip me a few tips and tricks, and the rest was cake…errr….fish. Watch out inhabitants of the sea, I’m coming for you in 30 minutes or less!
It’s sushi in 1-2-3…
#1 – The Fish
Purchase several cuts of sushi-grade fish from your local fisher monger. We are particularly fond of:
- Ahi tuna
- Salmon belly
- Rockland shrimp
Thinly slice fish across the grain, no more than a 1/4″ thick. Keep the fish cool while you prep the rice and other dishes. NOTE: All meat has a ‘grain’. This refers to the lines running parallel in the meat. Typically, it’s best to always cut perpendicular to the grain. This ensures that the meat will be tender and fall apart instead of being tough.
#2 – The Rice
Use a short grain sushi-style rice, which will provide the stickiness you’ll need. Rinse the rice until water runs clear. If using a stove top, heat equal parts rice and water until boiling. Lower the heat, cover and steam for approximately 18m until done. If using a rice cooker, follow the instructions for your model. (NOTE: If you like rice, get a rice cooker. They’re 20 bucks and totally worth it.)
While the rice is cooking, prepare the ‘juice’. In a saucepan, combine a couple cups of water, about a 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, about a 1/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon of salt approximately and a leaf of kombu (dried kelp). Bring to a simmer, stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Then cook down until a light syrup forms. Let cool.
Once the rice is done, transfer to a large non-metallic bowl or traditional wooden bowl called hangiri (shown above). Using a rice paddle or wooden spoon, ‘cut’ the rice to release the steam and cool it down. Once cool enough to touch, gently pour in enough juice to gently moisten the rice. Continue cutting to incorporate. Taste, and add more liquid to taste.
#3 – The Accoutrement
The fish and rice are the stars of the show, but you’ve got to have some supporting actors. Here are some suggestions:
- Shiso leaves, left whole for wrapping the fish and rice
- Enoki mushrooms
- Pickled daikon radish, sliced
- Pickled ginger
- Cucumber, cut into strips
- Egg – Whisk together a couple eggs, pinch of salt and a few drops sesame oil. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Drop a bit of the egg into the pan, and swirl it around to create a thin egg ‘crepe’. Cook for about 30 seconds and flip. Cook another 10 seconds and remove to cutting board. Cut into strips. (Shown above)
and last but not least…
- Nori – dried seaweed used for wrapping, synonymous with sushi hand rolls. It needs to be gently ‘toasted’ to bring out it’s nutty flavor. To toast, over an open gas flame on the stove or under a broiler, wave the nori over/under the heat for a few seconds on both sides.
This is a simple and quick way to enjoy sushi at home, or feed a crowd. Sometimes preparing all the ingredients with great friends is the best part of the evening (well…almost).