When you think of sushi, more often than not you think of it as something that you can only go out to get — whether that’s at an upscale Japanese restaurant or just at the corner grocery store is completely on you (we suggest the former). The thing is, on the surface, sushi is actually pretty easy to make. We’re not talking about matching up against the sushi masters who spend their entire lives mastering the craft. Rather, being able to craft a simple roll for the purposes of sustenance (and maybe showing off) is a task easily accomplishable by even the most cooking-averse of people.
Hailing from a small town outside of Kyoto, Japan, Takebata still orders most of his seafood from purveyors that source directly from Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, the biggest fish market in the world. With these ingredients, he crafts beautifully plated sushi rolls, nigiri, and sashimi, as well as other traditional Japanese dishes both raw and cooked.
How to Make Sushi
You will need:
- Bamboo sushi mat
- Plastic wrap
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Rice cooker
How to make sushi rice:
- Choose a short grain rice (preferably a Japanese brand, such as Kokuho). Short grain rice is much starchier than long grain and will hold together better.
- Cook according to directions. Note that 2 cups of uncooked rice will yield approximately 6-8 rolls.
- Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
- Stir in 4 oz of sushi rice vinegar to rice (or mix 4 oz rice vinegar with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of salt, and let dissolve). Make sure to distribute vinegar thoroughly through rice, but don’t put too much pressure on the rice when stirring, because it will break down the starches and make it too sticky.
Choosing the right seaweed:
Seaweed comes in many grades. Make sure to select at least a silver-grade seaweed, but preferably a gold-grade.
How to roll sushi:
- Place seaweed (shiny side down) on a sushi mat covered in plastic wrap.
- Wet hands in mixture of water and rice vinegar. The water and vinegar mixture keeps rice from sticking to your hands. Keep hands moist, but not dripping wet.
- Spread about 4 oz of prepared sushi rice evenly on seaweed.
- Place ingredients in a thin line towards top of seaweed (closer to you).
- Begin rolling the sushi away from you, tucking in the end.
- Tighten the roll and remove the mat.
- Slice the sushi roll into eight pieces.
Easy Sushi Recipes
- Sesame mayo*
- Imitation crab
- Sesame seeds (optional)
*Sesame mayo: Mix 1 cup mayo with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and sesame seeds to taste.
- Salmon (Chef recommends Scottish Salmon, but Atlantic will work as well)
- Green onion, diced finely
Spicy Tuna Roll
- Tuna (Chef recommends saku tuna, which can be found in most Asian grocery stores)
- Sriracha mayo
- Sesame mayo (see recipe above)
- Green onion, diced finely
- Tempura shrimp*
- Smelt eggs
*Tempura shrimp: Mix tempura flour with egg yolk and cold water. Dip shrimp in batter (leave tails on), let excess drip off, and carefully fry in oil.
Best Sushi Knife
While relatively simple, the sushi-making process requires precision. Takebata shared the three types of knives that he uses most often in the kitchen. For more information on specific brands, check out our guide to the best Japanese knives.
Gyuto Knife: Aka a chef’s knife. Used for filleting smaller fish, cutting sushi rolls, and chopping vegetables.
Yanagi Knife: Used for slicing fish (it cuts the most consistent portions) and peeling cucumbers, radishes, and daikon.
Deba Knife: Used for mongering whole (larger) fish.
Editor’s note: This article is part of The Manual’s larger Journey to Japan travel guide. Over the course of a month, our writers had the pleasure of experiencing Japan in all its forms, from high-rise bars in Tokyo to traditional tea ceremonies in Kyoto. We hope this series will not only inform but inspire you to take your own trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Article originally published by Cator Sparks on May 27, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on August 9, 2018.