Sushi is a culinary art based on very simple ingredients such as rice, fish or shellfish and vegetables, and it is a dish that originates from an ancient food preservation technique, but which has evolved into more original and tasty recipes. Today we are going to make some of the most classic variations, and we will explain step by step the Japanese recipe from the preparation of the rice to the assembly of the maki, whose word derives from makisu, that is the bamboo mat for rolling rice.
Put the rice in a sieve, then in a bowl and rinse it until the water is clear, let it soak for 15 minutes, drain it and let it rest for another 15 minutes (1).
Put the rice with 3 cups of water together with the kombu seaweed in a pot and cook over medium heat for eight minutes, on low heat for another five minutes and the last minute over high heat (2).
Melt the rice vinegar, granulated sugar and fine salt in a saucepan, then season the rice distributed in a hangiri or a low and wide container (3).
While the rice cools down, take care of the main thing, the fish. It should be specified that according to the law raw fish is always placed in blast chillers that neutralize any bacteria and parasites. In any case, if eaten raw (and this is the case), once prepared the fish will be left in the freezer for at least four days, in order to eliminate any risk. For salmon and tuna the procedure is the same, so let's take the first one as an example, which has just a couple of more steps.
Peel the salmon fillet starting from the side and sliding the blade of the knife, keeping it parallel to the cutting board (4).
Debone, wash and dry it with absorbent paper, then divide the salmon fillet into two parts and use the upper part to diagonally cut thin slices that you will use for nigiri or sashimi (5).
Instead, cut the lower part of the salmon fillet that you will use for the maki and uramaki into strips about 1 centimeter wide and 5 centimeters long (6).
Eliminate the head, legs and carapace, remove the gut with a toothpick, that is the black line that you notice at the top and which is bitter. Arrange them on a medium-sized skewer (7).
Prepare the batter by combining the water and flour in which you will dip the shrimps and then sprinkle them with panko (8).
Fry the shrimps sprinkled with panko in sesame seeds oil and boil those on the skewer in salted water for a minute and a half (9).
For the Hosomaki (thin rolls) distribute the rice evenly on the seaweed leaving a couple of centimeters on the top, then arrange the filling in line on the rice in the first half (10).
For the Uramaki (upside down rolls) distribute the rice over all the nori seaweed, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and turn over, then distribute the filling directly on the seaweed (11).
With the help of the makisu (bamboo mat) roll the seaweed holding the filling firmly with your fingers.
The origins of sushi, as often happens, are various but the most accredited one dates back to the 4th century. In the beginning, sushi was a method of preserving fish that was probably introduced from China to Japan along with the cultivation of rice; the fish was cleaned, salted, placed in wooden barrels and then covered with rice and the whole thing was pressed. The rice fermenting increased the acidity inside while preserving the fish. This method is still used today and it is called Narezushi or Funazushi, where the operation is repeated several times.
Around 1400, during the Muromachi period, the technique began to evolve into a recipe, in fact the rice was no longer thrown away after fermentation but it was seasoned with vinegar and served to accompany the fish and it was called Namanare.
During the Edo era, there is another step forward with the name of Haya – zushi or fast sushi, precisely because the Japanese were perhaps tired of letting the rice ferment, so they seasoned it directly with the vinegar and ate it.
So we have to wait until 1800 to see sushi as we know it, with Hanaya Yohei who is the inventor of the nigiri.
There are some mistakes that people should not make when preparing sushi:
– Some websites directly show you the cooking of the rice but it is very important to rinse it several times (traditionally at least 15 times) in order to make the grains lose starch, and so they will be well shelled.
– The fish should be well washed and dried before processing it. Fish such as tuna contain a lot of blood and it would be nauseating if you skip this simple but essential step.
– Once skinned, deboned and washed, the fish should be stored in the freezer for at least 96 hours (four days) if eaten raw.
There are some words involved when you talk about sushi. Let's see them together.
– Rice vinegar: Traditional vinegar obtained by fermenting rice, that can now be found in most supermarkets.
– Kombu seaweed: It is commonly used in Japanese cuisine to flavor rice or soups, and it is sold in dried sheets. You can find kombu seaweed in oriental groceries or in supermarkets with organic products. Not to be confused with the Nori seaweed, that is instead used to prepare the rolls.
– Nori seaweed: Dried seaweed commonly used in the preparation of the rolls.
– Panko: Japanese breadcrumbs used only with the white part of the bread, sold in oriental food shops, but alternatively you can remove the crust of the sandwich bread, toast it and then chop it coarsely.
– Hangiri: circular wooden container used in the final stages of sushi preparation.
– Makisu: bamboo mat used to form rolls. You can also easily find it in stores of household products or in the now popular sushi kits.
– Uramaki: inverted roll. Called this way because the seaweed is placed inside, it was created specifically for Westerners who, approaching sushi, were wary of seeing nori seaweed on the outside.
Given the use of fresh and delicate ingredients, homemade sushi should be consumed at the time of preparation and it can be stored for a maximum of one day in the refrigerator, well covered, at a temperature of 0-4 ° C.