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Top Tips and Techniques for Making Sushi and Sashimi

So, you’re on a mission to make sushi at home and want the best tips and techniques to get the job done right. Making homemade sushi, sashimi, and rolls can be a lot of fun but do take some practice. With our easy to follow guide, you’ll be a home sushi pro in no time at all! We'll cover:

  • Sushi vs. Sashimi
  • Sushi Grade Seafood
  • Raw Food Handling
  • Ingredients and Tools
  • Selecting your Seafood
  • Preparation:
    • Sushi Rice
    • Sushi Rolls
    • Sashimi
    • Sushi
    • Handrolls
  • Best Dipping Sauces for Sushi and Sashimi

 

Sushi vs. Sashimi

There are a couple of points worth sharing for those who are new to the world of sushi. It is a common misconception that sushi consists of only raw fish. There are plenty of mouth-watering sushi options with cooked seafood to choose from. And while many use the word sushi loosely, there are notable differences, from cut to the presentation.

Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish using vinegared rice with a dash of sugar and salt. The sticky consistency helps hold the rolls together and accompany various vegetables and seafood, depending on your preference. This sushi style uses sticky rice to compliment the flavors of both cooked and raw yellowfin tuna and other seafood favorites.  

Sashimi involves skillfully cut raw seafood, sliced into pieces, either against the grain or with it, thick or thin. While it may be served with a side of rice, sashimi is more often enjoyed on its own.

 

The Importance of Sushi Grade Fish

While many sushi rolls use cooked shrimp and salmon, there are certainly others containing raw cuts. You must buy sushi-grade seafood if you prepare raw sushi and sashimi to ensure your health and safety. You don’t want to risk getting sick from bacteria or parasites after all the work you put into preparing your beautiful homemade sashimi and sushi rolls. So, order your yellowfin tuna and other favorites from a reputable seafood company.

 

Food Handling Musts

Handle all your ingredients carefully, mainly when using raw ingredients. Keep raw pieces well chilled when you aren't working with them to avoid cross-contamination. Be mindful of your utensil use, too - never allowing your raw pieces of yellowfin tuna or fish of choice to touch anything other than your preparation tools and the food you plan to eat with it.

 

Ingredients and Tools for Sushi

Before your eyes grow big and your jaw drops to the floor, let us say that once you have the initial staples for sushi and sashimi making, you'll be set for quite some time. You'll get what seems like limitless uses out of some of your ingredients, like sesame seeds and rice vinegar. And you'll still be saving more money than a nice sushi dinner out. But trust us; it's well worth the investment, and your friends and family will hardly believe they're enjoying homemade sushi by their personal chef!

 

Main Ingredients for Sushi 

  • Sushi rice
  • Nori (sheets of seaweed)
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame seeds (chia seeds will also work well)
  • Sriracha Chili Sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger

 

Tools You'll Need for Sushi

  • Sushi Knife
  • Bamboo mat
  • Roll of plastic wrap
  • Small bowl for water
  • Rice cooker (optional)

 

You'll find these staples at your local Asian market or in most grocery stores in the international food aisle. You may also find sushi-making kits that are quite handy and usually come with chopsticks and sauce dishes.

 

Selecting Your Sushi Seafood

Before you get to the fun part, you'll want to select your seafood. Whether you're making traditional sushi pieces, rolls, handrolls, or sashimi, selecting seafood for novices can be quite an experience. We recommend choosing an array to see what your taste buds prefer. We love suggesting an order of sweet shrimp for use on your sushi rice or tempura dipped for shrimp rolls. We also highly recommend yellowfin tuna for divine sashimi or handrolls. You really can't go wrong with any seafood choice.

With all your staples on hand, let's get rolling!

 

Sushi Rolls

Preparing the Rice:

When preparing your sushi rice, a rice cooker comes in handy, but a traditional stovetop method works just as well.

Rice tip: If your goal is six rolls, prepare roughly two cups of rice.

  1. Rinse your rice grains well before cooking
  2. Cook rice as directed - typically 6-7 minutes in boiling water
  3. Ensure rice is fully cooked and fluffy by leaving the lid on for up to ten minutes to absorb all water. There's nothing worse than biting into crunchy sushi rice. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature before using it in the roll.
  4. Add 1/3 cup of seasoned rice vinegar or 1/3 cup of vinegar seasoned with one teaspoon of sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Pour the mixture over your rice, folding and fluffing with a fork. Sample and adjust your salt and sugar to taste.
  5. Remove rice from heat, transfer to a bowl, and cover with a paper towel. Allow to cool to room temperature.

 

Preparing Your Veggies:

While the rice cooks and cools, you'll have plenty of time to prep your vegetables. The most common selections are cucumber and carrots with the addition of avocado.

  1. Peel any items that require attention
  2. Slice your vegetables vertically into thin slices and set aside

 

Wrap Your Bamboo Mat

To avoid a sticky mess, wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap. This extra step will save you cleaning time between rolls and the hassle of scrubbing in between your bamboo when you're done.

 

Mastering the Sushi Rice 

  1. Grab a ball of rice - approximately one cup - and place it in your palm
  2. Lightly pat and mold into a ball, then form into a long cylinder shape.
  3. Grab one sheet of nori (seaweed) and place the rice into the center of the sheet. Wet your hands slightly and spread your rice evenly across the seaweed wrap.
  4. Leave approximately two to three centimeters of space between the rice and the top of your nori sheet, pressing the rice evenly onto the nori sheet.

 

Choose a Method: Rice Inside or Out

The two most prevalent techniques are inside-out rolls - rice on the outside of the seaweed wrap - and rolls wrapped with nori on the outside and rice on the inside. It's merely a preference in the presentation.

  • For rice on the outside, lay your nori sheet onto the mat, rice side down
  • For rice on the inside, lay your nori sheet rice side up
  1. Place your toppings in the middle of your roll, keeping them in a pile, close to one another
  2. Lay your yellowfin tuna or chosen seafood on your topping

 

Rolling Your Sushi Like a Pro

For this step, remember roll, press, repeat.

  1. Carefully roll the nori and mat over the yellowfin tuna and toppings, lightly grasping and squeezing them, so they form a tight fit. Squeeze up and down the roll, tucking any ingredients that may poke out.
  2. Lift the bamboo mat, reposition, and start again.
  3. Repeat by rolling approximately 1/4 of the mat, gently squeezing as you go.
  4. Repeat as necessary until rolling is complete.
  5. If you are making the rice on the outside, sprinkle your roll with sesame seeds

 

Cutting your Sushi Roll

Tip: Having a good quality sushi knife is a must for precise cutting. Keep your knife blade slightly wet when cutting your maki (rolls). This will ensure an easy, clean cut without smashing your roll. One of our favorite tricks is to keep a bowl of water nearby and dip the tip of the knife into the water. Remove and turn the knife tip up. Tap its handle on your table to coax the water down the cutting edge of the blade, then cut.

  1. If you’re topping your sushi roll with shrimp, sashimi, or avocado, you'll want to wrap your roll in plastic wrap before slicing. This will ensure all your toppings remain in place while slicing.
  2. Slice your roll into even slices, dipping your knife in between cuts.

Sashimi

The most common sashimi choices tend to be yellowfin tuna and salmon, while many also use squid, scallops, and snapper. For our guide, we'll use yellowfin tuna as our sashimi model.

Tip: If you’re choosing a smaller fish or seafood for your sashimi, it’s better to use them as soon as you bring them home. Like flounder and snapper, larger fish taste better if they're left in your fridge overnight while their muscles relax.

Ordering home delivery frozen yellowfin tuna, or seafood of your choice, allows you to keep it in your freezer until you are ready to make your sashimi. You’ll be able to buy and save fish in season that you may otherwise not have access to throughout the year.

Tip: Sashimi preparation is much easier if you can find fish that are already scaled and trimmed for you. 

 

How to Prepare Your Yellowfin Tuna for Sashimi

Hira-Zukuri

Hira-zukuri is ‘the rectangular slice’ of the fish for sashimi.  This slicing technique is the most common. The hira-zukuri is best used for salmon, tuna, and kingfish.

  1. Start from the right side of the yellowfin tuna fillet and draw your knife from the blade's base to the tip in a single, vertical stroke. This will give you a cleanly sliced piece of fish, approximately one half to one centimeter in width.
  2. Repeat, keeping slices as even as possible for the best presentation

 

Usu-Zukuri

The Usu-Zukuri method means ‘thin slice.’ This cut is usually used for thinner fillets of fish like flounder, bream, and whiting since they create an extremely thin, diagonal slice.

  1. Cut the fish fillet from the left, moving across the grain in a horizontal motion.
  2. Repeat, keeping slices even

 

Ito-Zukuri and Kaku-Zukuri 

Squid and very narrow fish most often use the ito-zukuri thread cut, resulting in skinny slivers. To create smaller cubes of thick, soft yellowtail tuna, master sashimi chefs will use the kaku-zukuri cut or square slice.

No matter which sashimi technique you choose to slice your fish, the ultimate goal is to create each slice exactly the same to capture the same texture throughout and provide an appealing presentation. Mastering the art of sashimi takes time and practice, so be patient and enjoy each session.

 

Sushi

Preparing the two-piece sushi Is almost a blend of both the sushi roll and sashimi methods.

  1. Scoop a golf ball-sized amount of rice into your palm
  2. Roll and mold the rice into an oval shape
  3. Slice your yellowfin tuna, or seafood of choice, sashimi-style
  4. Place a tiny ball of wasabi on the underside of your yellowfin tuna
  5. Lay the yellowfin tuna lengthwise across the rice and gently pat together
  6. Repeat for each piece

 

Handrolls

The art of the handroll, or cone sushi, is a bit easier to master. Following the sushi roll's basic guidelines, you'll end up with one individual sushi roll rather than several slices.

  1. Peel any vegetables that require attention
  2. Slice your vegetables vertically into thin slices and set aside
  3. Scoop a golf ball-sized amount of rice into your palm
  4. Roll and mold the rice into an oval shape
  5. Slice your yellowfin tuna using your sashimi cut preference
  6. Take a sheet of nori and lay your rice, toppings, and yellowfin tuna from near the bottom corner, up
  7. Begin to roll your nori gently in a diagonal manner, creating an ice cream cone shape for your handroll

 

Sushi Dipping Sauces

From soy sauce to spicy siracha, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Try various dipping sauces for each sushi or sashimi slice to discover what your palette prefers. Don't forget a side of ginger to cleanse your palette between each new fish.

The most common sauces include: 

  • Soy sauce and wasabi
  • Ponzu sauce
  • Sriracha mayo
  • Eel sauce

 

Are you ready to tackle your first sushi from home session? By following these simple steps, you'll be a homemade sushi and sashimi chef before you know it.