How To Make Perfect Sushi

Christopher James By Christopher James, 7th Feb 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Recipes>Japanese

How to make perfect sushi. A how-to guide on making the perfect sushi rice, with tips on keeping it just the right amount of sticky. Advice on rolling. And a lovely picture of one I made earlier.

How to make perfect sushi

Sushi does not mean raw fish. Rather it means something similar to 'sour-tasting', a name which comes from the traditionally lacto-fermented rice that was once used to make it. Nowadays the recipes for good sushi have changed, but they still rely upon rice. The secret to making great sushi is to make the perfect sushi rice.

(NOTE: slices of raw fish, normally salmon or tuna, are called sashimi, not sushi.)

Making the Perfect Rice:

The first, most important thing, is to buy the right kind of rice. Japanese rice has shorter grains than its Indian, Thai and Chinese brothers, and is stickier, more gelatinous. This is perfect for forming those delicious rice shapes. You don't want your sushi to fall apart. Japanese rice is easily available in all supermarkets.

Next you should drain the rice, and leave it to dry for half an hour to an hour. Some people don't drain it, and their sushi works just fine, but I don't think it tastes the same. So, unless time is a major issue, wash the rice thoroughly in a thin-mesh metal sieve and leave it to drain and dry for a while.

If you have a rice cooker then that's great, just follow the instructions that came with your machine. If you don't, like me, then don't worry. Use equal amounts of rice and water, (maybe just a tiny bit more water) and cook over a low heat in a heavy bottomed pan with the lid on. Here's a little trick - add a small amount of jelly powder to the rice now. This will make it stickier when it's time to mold the sushi. DO NOT take the lid off the saucepan during cooking. After half an hour your rice should be cooked, and most of the water should have evaporated.

Now you want to put the rice out onto some baking paper. Spread it out thinly. You need to dribble a sushi-vinegar mixture over it. The sushi-vinegar mix is simple enough to make. Add a teaspoon of salt and three tablespoons of sugar to a third of a cup of rice vinegar, available from any supermarket. Dribble all of the vinegar over the rice. This is what really makes the rice stick together in just the right sushi-consistency. With the vinegar dribbled, it's time to spend a little while fluffing and fanning.

Fluffing and Fanning:

Stick an electric fan blowing over the rice at a low power. If you don't have an electric fan then you can wave a big piece of cardboard up and down, like you were fanning yourself on a hot day with a magazine. Both the electric fan and the paper fan work as well as one another, but the electric fan saves your arms some energy. With the wind blowing on your rice, you want to fluff it with a fork. Keep on fluffing and fanning until the sushi-vinegar has dried. it should look great. Leave it now until it's cool enough to pick up. Then you're ready to start rolling, rolling, rolling...

Roll 'em:

Cover your sushi-rolling mat in clingfilm. This'll save on washing up later. It's hard work getting bits of sticky rice out of the cracks in the rolling mat. Place a sheet of Nori seaweed on the clingfilm. Spread your rice, very thinly, over the seaweed. You should cover the bottom two thirds of the seaweed with rice, and leave the top third free. You can put a little bit of water on your hands to stop the rice from sticking to them, but don't use too much. You're making sushi. It's normal for some of the rice to stick to you.

In the middle of the rice it's time to layer your fillings. I like crabsticks and fresh avocado, bit's of cucumber, bits of carrot, stuff like that, but you can use pretty much anything you want. I once made sushi with a chocolate flake. It looked great. It tasted ridiculous.

(NOTE - If you use raw fish, make sure it's safe.)

Of course, the sushi mat only lets you roll the sushi one way, so make sure your ingredients are facing the right direction. Put them in a line through the middle of the rice bed.

Now start rolling.

Rolling is fun, and it doesn't really matter if you get it right or not. But a good technique means your sushi will stay together and look pretty. A poor technique means congratulations, you've made sushi salad.

Hold the edges of the mat with your thumbs. The rice-heavy side of the seaweed should be closest to you, and you should roll into it, away from your body. Don't let the ingredients fall all over the place, and make sure that the rice is sticking together. If it's not, then you might want to use a drop more water. Not too much. Hopefully, after all that draining and fluffing and fanning your rice will stick together all by itself.

Put one more thin line of rice at the naked end of the seaweed. This will help the seaweed stick together and stop your sushi rolls from being sushi unrolls. At regular points during the roll give your sushi a squeeze. Not too hard. Keep rolling until it's all rolled up.

Then you should leave the roll for a minute to settle. After that you can cut it into slices. Cut with a wet, sharp knife.

I like to arrange the sushi on a plate around some fancy garnish. For garnish I take a piece of cucumber or carrot, cut some shapes into it and drizzle it with a few fish eggs. Your sushi is going to look great.

More importantly, it's going to taste fantastic!


Cooking, Food, Good, Japanese, Make, Perfect, Rice, Sushi

Meet the author

author avatar Christopher James
Christopher James was born in London (London baby!) and now lives and writes in Jakarta, Indonesia. He writes about all sorts!

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author avatar Heidi
7th Feb 2012 (#)

Sounds great! I've tried making sushi before, but failed miserably. Reading this article makes me want to try again. Thanks!

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author avatar Denise O
7th Feb 2012 (#)

Sounds just delicious. Welcome to Wikinut, I look forward to reading more of your work. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Christopher James
7th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you Heidi and Denise! It's very exciting to be here on Wikinut. I'll take a look at the articles you guys have written, hopefully get some tips on how to write some killer pages :)

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author avatar Cezarija Abartis
7th Feb 2012 (#)

So interesting! Thanks for the recipe.

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author avatar Tara Leigh
7th Feb 2012 (#)


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author avatar Roberta Pudney Gray
7th Feb 2012 (#)

The photo is as delicious as your recipe! Lovely, juicy, succulent image.

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author avatar Christopher James
8th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you Cezrija, Tara and Roberta :) I'm glad you like the photo too - I'm kind of proud of it.

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author avatar Elise
9th Feb 2012 (#)

great writing, Mr. James!

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author avatar Christopher James
11th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you, Elise :) How very lovely of you to say so

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author avatar Aa
25th May 2015 (#)

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