Sushi has become one of the most popular foods in the recent years. Previously, street corners were covered with McDonald’s and KFC, however now you can barely walk down the street without locating somewhere that sells it.
From Itsu and Wasabi, to Tesco and Sainsbury’s, sushi is available at our beck and call wherever we go. So, why is it so popular?
- Healthy: Sushi uses fresh ingredients, so choosing sushi allows you to avoid the processed foods that tend to be ridden in trans and saturated fats. It combined carbs (rice and vegetables), healthy fats (e.g.- avocado) and protein (meat and fish) which are all essential in our diet. Sushi is a great balanced meal to keep you going through the day.
- Convenient: it is one of those incredibly easy to take away foods. One bite of maki goes down in a mouthful, and all the food can be kept in a disposable package and easily carried around. Perfect!
- Satisfaction: the word ‘sushi’ in fact refers to the rice, rather than raw fish, contrary to common beliefs. Having rice as a base of the meal allows us to have a healthy and slow releasing carbohydrate-based lunch, giving us continual energy to power through the day. In addition to this, when you compare it to a heavy and greasy meal, you can often feel more weighed down than anything else; in contrast sushi allows you to feel full and refreshed.
I personally have always loved sushi. For all the reasons above and most importantly for the taste and variety. From sushi rice salad, to nigiri to maki: just glancing at the menu is enough to make my mouth drool.
For my 21st birthday, therefore, I took a cookery class in Japanese cooking with a fantastic company named Japanese Ideas, which enlivened my passion even more-so.
On the day we made miso soup, nigiri, maki and nori ‘inside out rolls’, and a sushi rice salad. I can honestly say that each of them were easy to make, as long as you’re prepared to put in a short time for the preparation. Making sushi is a fantastic use of your time, a great skill to have and I would irrevocably advise others to do so, even in groups! It’s the perfect group activity: and will provide you with an affordable and delightful meal.
Fun Fact: Sushi originated in Southeast Asia where the people mixed fish with rice, and used salt, sugar and vinegar in order to further preserve the food.
To make maki, nori and nigiri, you need all the same ingredients: so if 4 of you chip in that with cost you hardly anything! I’ll list below the process of making maki and nigiri: you’ll see how easy and fun it can be.
Ingredients: (for approx. 3 people)
- Rice (1.5 cups)
- Rice Vinegar (1/4 cup)
- Salt (1 tbsp)
- Sugar (1 tbsp)
- Nori (Seaweed)
- Filling of your fancy: Cucumber, Avocado, Salmon, Carrot, Fried egg. These should be sliced so they are around 3 inches long.
Top Tip: for every cup of uncooked rice, you will have enough to make about 5 rolls. Most people eat between 2 and 3 rolls each meal.
- Wash the rice for 1-2 minutes so there is no more starch coming out.
- Pour rice in the saucepan, and add water. Ratio should be 1.15: 1 (in favour of the water).
- Cook on a high heat for a few minutes, then lower the heat and put the lid on the saucepan make sure it is completely covered.
- Do NOT stir, or lift the lid at any point. Leave for a further 16 minutes.
- Turn the heat off, and heat up your sugar, rice vinegar and salt mix in the microwave for a minute.
- Pour the rice vinegar mix over the rice. Mix well with a wooden spoon (not metal- this reacts with the rice and damages it).
- Spoon out the rice on to a FLAT bowl (a casserole dish will do- in Japan it is tradition to use wooden, but any material will do).
- Fan the rice till it’s cool enough to handle. Your sushi rice is now ready to make all sorts of delicious dishes with.
- Lay down your nori sheet with the shiny side face down.
- Spread roughly 2 tbsp of rice flat on the nori. Make sure it’s an even spread, leaving a 1cm gap at the top.
- Tip: use a WET spoon so it doesn’t stick too much- sushi rice is super sticky!
- Put your filling in a horizontal line at the bottom of your nori sheet.
- Tip: It looks great to have different colours: so if you use green (cucumber), try and get a strong orange (carrot or salmon). Aesthetic is key.
- Roll the sushi using your mat. You should roll over from the bottom edge to the top. When the roll is finished, put the bottom edge together with the top edge to stick together.
- Slice it up (use a wet knife!) and you’re good to go.
- Tip: Fry some sesame seeds on the hop for a couple of minutes and sprinkle over the top: it adds a burst of flavour, a crunch in texture and does wonders for the way it looks.
- Take a small amount of sushi rice (about ¾ of a tbsp.) into the palm of your hand.
- Roll and squeeze it together until it rolls into a firm ‘log’ shaped block.
- In your han, move it on to your fingers and place the topping of your choice in the palm of your hand (we use Japanese omelette slices, salmon and prawn).
- Squeeze the two together so it looks as if your topping is lying on the top of your log.
- Dig in to your varied platter of nigiri.
Doing the Japanese cookery course, and of course treating myself to everything we created, made me realised how much more delicious, satisfying and fun it is to have sushi homemade.
Now, I’m certainly not saying you should miss out on the delight that is Blue Monday’s at Yo Sushi. I do, however, strongly recommend you to try out sushi making for yourself!
You can make a large batch: put on a feast for the house, keep it in tuppaware and take it for lunch at uni, or even use it as a fun thing to do for a date. With sushi, the possibilities are endless!