|By Randa El Tahawy|
| Sushi has been becoming more and more popular lately, and all know that good sushi in Egypt tends to be overpriced. But even trendier now, is actually making sushi, so for a change, why not try to make your own rolls? You will be saving a fair amount of money and you get to tweak the ingredients to your taste.
As part of the Four Seasons Nile plaza What’s Cooking classes, and with the expertise of Sushi Chef Emmel Muya and Chef Andrew Dickie, here is a guide on how to make sushi like a master chef and my experience as a sushi making apprentice. And if the description seems too complicated, just watch the below video for demonstration — you also get to see me playing chef.
On my way to attend the sushi making class, I was delighted and excited to try it out. I have zero cooking experience, but I wasn’t worried, how hard is it to make a dish that consists of raw fish and rice?
Getting down and dirty I thought it would be easy and fast. I was wrong. It did take a lot of time, from cutting the fish to cooking the rice and properly rolling the makis. Of course that didn't apply to Chef Emmel who says his record time of making sushi is two minutes.
The first thing you need to make sushi is of course fish, and if you want it to be perfectly fresh, you need to be cutting it on your own. I can assure you that it is not for everyone, cutting a fish is quite hard — not to mention smelly — it took us around 30 minutes to come out with a tiny bit of fillet.You can use any kind of white fish, in our class we used sea bass. But if it is easier, you can just buy the fillet already cut. Our second fish was salmon that was already cut into fillets. After the issue of fish has been taken care of, you need to cook the rice. Chef Andrew, who worked at the renowned Nobu Japanese restaurant in London, tells us that it can take up to three years to learn how to make the perfect rice for sushi.
The rice we used was short grain rice as it contains more starch and gets sticky when cooked. Check the below recipe for making Sushi rice. After properly cooking the rice, the chef also showed us how to make Wasabi, by simply buying Wasabi powder from any Asian section at supermarkets, mixing it with water and letting it turn into a paste.
Nigiri Sushi It was the time to make the Nigiri Sushi. Which consists of rice and fish . There are two ways of cutting the piece of fish to go with the rice, rectangular or diagonal cuts. The rectangular slice are usually used for thick fish like salmon and tuna and the diagonal slice is used for the sea bass. The diagonal usually looks thin from one end and thinner from the other end, more like a tail. Cutting the slice of fish that will go into your sushi depends on the size of the fish and the size you wish to have.
Making the Nigiri is quite easy, you take about a handful of rice into your palm, make sure you dip your hands into water as the rice can be very sticky, and just model it with your palm. With your other hand, hold the piece of fish with your thumb and index finger and slide it into the modelled piece of rice as shown in the video.
Standard Maki Rolls: We made the traditional Maki Rolls using the nori, the black seaweed with some sliced cucumbers and sliced salmon. To make the rolls you do need to have a rolling sushi mat made of bamboo that looks like a bamboo place mat. You can also purchase it in the same Asian corner of any supermarket. You can adjust the filling to your taste, from cream cheese, to crab or even only cucumbers.
Cut your nori leaf into half. Place on half of nori on the sushi mat, spread the rice evenly and horizontally on the Nori, don’t use all the space and leave the upper space empty. Add your filling. Holding the mat with both hands, carefully roll the bottom end over the filling, making sure you squeeze and compress evenly across the entire roll. Continue rolling the nori around the rice and ingredients until the bare nori seals itself. Cut the roll in half, then continue to cut the roll into six pieces by cutting through both halves at once. It takes a bit of time to get a hold of it and have a perfectly round shaped roll or a good looking Nigiri, but practice makes perfect. If you want to get better listen to the chef who now makes a portion in just two minutes. Just keep trying until you can show off your skills and hold a sushi dinner at home.
How to Make Sushi Rice: Makes 4-6 Servings (Courtesy of Four Seasons Nile Plaza) 3 cups of Japanese Rice 3 ¼ cups water 1/3 cup rice vinegar (can be purchased in Japanese food section of supermarkets like Miriam in Maadi, Gourmet, Alfa Market and some Metros) 3 Tbsp sugar 1tsp salt
- Wash the rice with cold water, repeat until water becomes clear. - Drain the rice and set aside for 30 minutes. - Place the rice in rice cooker and add water. - Let the rice soak in the water at least 30minutes. - Start the cooker. - When rice is cooked, let it steam for about 15 minutes. - Prepare sushi vinegar: Mix rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a sauce pan. Put the pan on low heat and heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the mixture. - Spread the hot steamed rice into a large plate or bowl. Use a non metallic bowl to prevent any interaction with rice vinegar. Best to use a wooden bowl. - Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice with a rice spatula quickly. - Let it cool, or use a fan as you mix the rice. It is best to use the rice right away.