Sushi is becoming a popular dish worldwide.
Sushi (すし, 寿司, 鮨?) is a food preparation originating in Japan, consisting of cooked vinegared rice (鮨飯 sushi-meshi?) combined with other ingredients (ネタ neta?) such as raw seafood, vegetables and sometimes tropical fruits. Ingredients and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is rice (also referred to as shari (しゃり?) or sumeshi (酢飯?)). (taken from Wikipedia)
In the Philippines, sushi is almost synonymous to Japanese cuisine alongside ramen, tempura, wagyu, and shabu-shabu. Sushi restaurants/bars are aplenty in highly urbanized cities like Manila, Cebu, and Davao but not so much in other cities and in rural areas. I really love sushi (maki and nigiri) that’s why I wanted to learn how to prepare it so I can enjoy sushi anytime here in Leyte. So, the curious side of me started to research how it is prepared. I watched a lot of documentaries and sushi preparation videos on Youtube (I even discovered a really good program about Japanese culture, Begin Japanology with Peter Barakan). I also discovered that sushi-making is a painstaking job and at the same time an edible art. I idolize Sukibayashi Jiro, a Michelin star chef, and Hiroyuki Terada of Nove Kitchen and Bar. If ever I can visit Japan, I would really try the authentic and expensive sushi bars there. After countless hours of watching videos, I thought I should give it a try. At first it is really essential that you have knife skills and lots of patience.
So, here’s how I prepare my sushi.
Rice – You can use Jasponica rice/Miponica rice. They are available in supermarkets like SM or Robinsons. I bought my rice at Robinsons Supermarket in Ormoc City. It costs about P200 for the 2-kilo pack. In fact, almost all of the ingredients are available at Robinsons Ormoc. Koshihikari rice is also an excellent option since it is imported from Japan but it is more expensive at over P300 for the 2-kilo pack.
Sushi mat – This is also available at Robinsons at P30. The one I bought at Shopwise Cebu is better but I already gave it to my mother.
Crabsticks – An essential ingredient in California maki/sushi roll since it is the meat part of the sushi. It is about P120 for the 250g pack. This is actually a substitute for those who don’t want to eat raw tuna/salmon. You can also prepare this in many ways (more on this later)
Nori Wrap/Seaweed Wrap – An essential ingredient in making sushi. This goes to less than P100 to a little over P120
You also need clean cloth or face towel and a really sharp knife.
Note: Missing ingredients are the Masago or Tobiko and of course some Saku bar Tuna or Salmon (I can’t find them in Ormoc City). Another is the sesame seeds. Avocado is also a key ingredient but I can’t seem to find them at the moment. Maybe they are not in season yet.
How to prepare the rice:
- Get 2 cups of the Jasponica rice and rinse well 4 or 5 times until the water is clear. Add 2 cups of water and cook in a rice cooker.
- In a bowl, mix 1 cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, a dash of salt, and few drops of sesame oil.
- Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to the container.
- Add the vinegar mixture and mix well with the rice.
- Fan the rice. Use the ladle in a slicing motion to mix and cool the rice.
- Cover with a clean cloth and set aside.
Assembling the sushi:
There are a number of ways to prepare the sushi and a number of combinations of ingredients depending on your preference. First, you must prepare the ingredients beforehand like slicing the cucumber, avocado, crabsticks, and mango. You also need to wrap the sushi mat with cling wrap so that the rice won’t stick on it.
- To assemble the sushi, put the sushi mat on an even and firm position.
- Use half a sheet or 3/4 sheet of Nori Wrap and put it on top of the sushi mat, smooth side down
- With half a sheet Nori, put around 10g of sushi or half the size of your fist over the Nori. This part is tricky if you are still starting. Make sure to wet your hands with water that’s been mixed with vinegar. In this way, you can handle the rice so that it will not stick in your hands. You can also use a spoon to spread the rice sightly but don’t press it to much.
- For the 3/4 Nori, you can adjust the amount of rice to put. Again, don’t put too much rice. Just put enough to cover the whole Nori. You can add more ingredients than the half nori.
- After that, put your ingredients like 2 pcs. sliced cucumber, 2 pcs. sliced avocado, and a crabstick sliced in half.
- Once done, roll the mat and make sure that the sushi is properly rolled and the ends of the Nori overlap.
This is how it would look like:
Once done, slice the sushi in 8 equal parts using a sharp knife. It is essential that you wipe the knife with a wet towel every after slice so that the sushi will not be ruined when sliced.
For the maki, you can use the same steps but this time invert it such that the rice part will be at the bottom and the nori is on top. Add ingredients and roll. You can also sprinkle with black sesame seeds or roasted sesame seeds.
Combination of ingredients:
There are a lot of ways to combine your filling. Here are my combinations for the maki:
- Avocado and crabsticks
- Avocado, crabsticks, and cucumber
- Avocado and cucumber
- Crabsticks and cucumber
- Mango only
- Avocado and mango
- Mango and cucumber
- Mango and crabsticks
- Mango, avocado, crabsticks, and cucumber (use a whole Nori on this) – futomaki
- Crab salad only
- Crab salad and mango (use any variation)
Making a crab salad:
- Use 3-4 crab sticks and tear them to pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce.
For added flavor and nice presentation, you can put toppings on your sushi. You can put the toppings on the sushi before you slice them in pieces. Once the toppings are in place, cover the whole unsliced sushi with cling wrap and shape it again using your sushi mat. Afterwards, slice it carefully with a wet knife and remove the cling wrap once done.
Here are my combinations for the toppings:
- Avocado slices only
- Avocado and mango slices
- Crab salad
- Tobiko or Masago
Here are some of the sushi I made: