by Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, Lincoln Land Community College
One of my favorite foods any time of year is sushi. The most common misconception is that sushi is raw fish. Sushi actually translates to seasoned rice. Centuries ago fermented rice was stuffed into gutted fish as a method of preservation. The rice was discarded before the fish was consumed. Over time the fish was seasoned with vinegar and encased the whole fish. The fish was eaten not long after being wrapped in seasoned rice allowing the rice to remain edible as well. From there, sushi began to evolve into what we are now familiar.
Hundreds of years ago sushi had become a staple part of the Japanese diet. There were no washroom facilities available to the public at this time. Customers would wipe their face and hands on the sushi shop curtains as they left. A sign of a good sushi shop was one that had really dirty curtains!
The most popular style of sushi has been around for centuries – a ball of rice with sashimi (raw fish) laid across the top. This style is called nigari. But probably more commonly we see makizushi, or maki, which means roll. Rice and seaweed paper are rolled around a variety of ingredients. The hardest part of sushi is making the rice. With a little practice you can confidently make or roll any type sushi you like.
Sushi – How much rice should you cook?
Every cup of uncooked rice should provide enough to make between four and six sushi rolls. You can estimate five rolls per cup of rice pretty accurately. Most people eat between two and three rolls in one sitting. Here’s how I usually plan for my parties and classes:
2 people = 1 cup
4 people = 1 1/2 to 2 cups
6 people = 2 1/2 to 3 cups
8 people = 3 1/2 cups
Rice Seasoning Recipe
Makes enough to season a three-cup batch of rice
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
Directions: Warm rice vinegar, then whisk in salt and sugar until fully dissolved.
How to Prep Sushi Rice
1. Rinse – Start off by dumping the uncooked rice into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water, swish it around, then drain. Repeat this process until the water runs clear. This could take around 10 rinses.
2. Soak – Fill the bowl one last time, then soak the rice for 30 minutes before draining it again. Add a piece of kombu if available.
3. Add Cooking Water – Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water for every 1 cup of uncooked rice.
4. Bring to Boil – Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Watch the pot so that it doesn’t boil over. Do not remove the lid!
5. Simmer – Reduce the heat to low as soon as it comes to a boil, and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes exactly. No peeking! Keep the lid on tight.
6. Uncover – As soon as 20 minutes go by, turn off the heat and let rest in covered pot for 5 minutes.
7. Turn Out – Transfer the rice to a large, wide mixing bowl. Use a paddle or wooden spoon to gently spread and separate the grains to help it cool.
8. Season – Drizzle the rice seasoning over the hot rice while gently turning the grains over and over. Try not to smash or stir the rice. Just move it around gently.
9. Cool – Fan the rice for a couple minutes, turn the rice over and fan again. Ideally, sushi rice should be at room temperature when it is time to make your rolls.
• Cover the cook pot as tightly as possible. I like to use a small cast iron pot to cook my sushi rice. If you are using a metal pot, try putting something on top of the lid to weigh it down. Just make sure that whatever you use is sturdy and heatproof.
• Don’t let the rice dry out. If you need to wait for a while before making your rolls, cover the bowl of rice with a clean, moist kitchen towel. Don’t refrigerate the rice. Instead, try to cook it right before it’s time to roll your sushi.
• Time very carefully. Use a kitchen timer or a smartphone to keep track of cooking and soaking times. Over or under-cooking will affect the rice’s texture.
• Rice Cooker. An inexpensive rice cooker cooks the rice for you perfectly! Most cookers switch to a “keep warm” mode when the cooking is done. Watch your cooker, when it switches to “keep warm” unplug the rice cooker and allow the rice to sit covered in the pot for 5-10 minutes then proceed to step 7. Remember, no peeking during cooking. Once you set your rice to cook leave the lid on until the rice has finished cooking and rested in the pot for 5-10 minutes.
What to roll in your sushi?
• Anything you like!
• Fresh avocado
• Cooked crab
• Cooked shrimp
• Sashimi grade tuna
• Salmon, fresh or smoked
• Cream cheese
• Julienne carrots
• Pickled veggies
• Try different combinations and have fun :-)
If you would like to have a video reference for making sushi rice, basic rolls or move on to intermediate rolls go to www.makesushi.org.
The recipe link (slightly different from above) to making sushi rice http://www.makesushi.com/how-to-make-sushi-rice/.
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts