Sushi Basics: Tips, Tools And Ingredients Needed For Making Sushi At Home

Make sushi in your own kitchen--tips, tools, and ingredients to improve your skills or create this Japanese delicacy for the first time.

So you're thinking about making sushi or looking to improve your skills? This guide can assist anyone, beginner or dabbler, in the preparation of a sushi plate you will want to show off!

The tools you will need are fairly basic. A wooden bowl, rice paddle and bamboo mat are the three major ones, and a wooden or plastic spoon or plastic bowl can be substituted in a pinch. Don't use metal of any kind, however, except for a sharp knife for the last step of the preparation.

You can buy ingredients at the grocery store, if they carry them, or from a local Asian food store. You'll need rice vinegar, pickled ginger, wasabi, sushi rice, nori (seaweed), and your filling of choice.

Now let's quickly walk through the steps of making a basic kappamaki (cucumber) roll before going into some tips on making sushi you can be proud of. Please read all the way through the guide before attempting sushi!

1) Cook the rice according to recipe or package instructions and empty it into your wooden bowl.

2) Mix the rice vinegar into the rice using a wooden spoon.

3) Cool the rice as quickly as possible.

4) Lay a sheet of nori shiny-side down on the bamboo mat (on top of a cutting board) and spread a thin layer of rice onto it, leaving about an inch on the far end of the sheet uncovered.

5) Lay triangular-cut strips of cucumber horizontally on top of the rice so that the ends protrude slightly over the edges of the sheet.

6) Lift the front of the mat (the part closest to you) and roll it forward, taking care not to roll the mat directly into the sushi.

7) Seal the roll by wetting the uncovered part with rice vinegar

8) Cut the roll into 4 or 6 equal pieces and garnish with wasabi, soy sauce and/or pickled ginger.

Sushi is a learned art, and a few tips will definitely help you on your way. First, avoid American rice--it isn't as sticky as Japanese short-grain rice, and hence your sushi would fall apart. Of course, the rice is also prepared differently from how Westerners are used to, so follow these steps to make sure your rice is perfect!

1) After washing your rice very thoroughly, leave it to sit in water for thirty minutes.

2) After cooking your rice, add the vinegar to it. As you do so, mix it in using crossing motions with your wooden spoon. Do not stir, or else the rice will be crushed together.

3) Once you have added the vinegar, cool the rice down as quickly as possible! Use a fan and continue to cross with your spoon. The faster the rice cools, the shinier it will be and more appealing to the eye.

4) Sushi rice only lasts a day and will become difficult to handle once it's cold, so be sure to use it all right away!

Depending on what kind of sushi you are making, you may need to handle some raw fish. Here's some advice on nigiri-sushi:

1) Soft, white fish is unsuitable because you can easily get food poisoning from eating it raw. Remember to choose a fish that will not make you sick, such as tuna, salmon, squid, mackerel, clam, or abalone. Octopus, crab and shrimp should be cooked before making sushi with it.

2) Add a little wasabi to the underside of the fish before you press it to the rice. This will add extra flavor.

Maki sushi is the more popular type and has a lot of potential, though it may take longer to make. Almost any type of filling can go into maki--tuna, cheese, avocado, cucumber, salmon, crab, mayonnaise, eggs, carrots--anything goes. Go traditional or create your own--it's up to you!

1) This type of sushi is made using the bamboo mat mentioned above. The direction in which your sheet of nori is facing determines how thin or thick your rolls will be (called "futomaki" or "hosomaki" respectively), so think about this before you place it on the mat. If the sheet is wider across, your rolls will be fatter.

2) Rice will not stick together well if it is too cold, so work fast!

3) Once you have rolled your sushi you must cut it into individual pieces. Do this quickly and with a very sharp knife; you do not want to mar the nori, and it will soak up water and become difficult to cut before long. Avoid serrated knives that will tear the nori here; use a very sharp stainless steel knife if possible!

Sushi is a time-consuming task but is worth it in the end, and though you may make some mistakes you will surely improve with time. Experiment with different types and garnishes to serve at a party, family dinner, or just when you want to enjoy a quiet afternoon with your California rolls!

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