Do-it-yourself sushiChef Dil Shrestha: Making sushi at home is easier than you think, and you can make it with almost anything you have in the kitchen.
Who doesn’t like sushi? The combination of the freshness of the fish, the umami flavours of the nori, and the savoury rice makes for a delicious, healthy meal. What makes this dish work is the simplicity of its ingredients and the complexity of the flavours. After all, good sushi is all about the artful balance of three things: the vinegared rice, the fish and the soy sauce.
But Dil Shrestha, who’s been perfecting his sushi-making skills at the Sakura Restaurant in Boudha for the past 16 years, says sushi isn’t limited to fish, especially considering fresh fish is hard to come by in Nepal. Sushi has in fact evolved to be made with almost anything—from the typical seafood like tuna and crab to cucumber, carrot, even apples and papaya.
For today, he’s teaching us how to make three different types of sushi anyone can make at home: an avocado sushi, a Tekka Maki and an “inside out” California roll.
Get yourself a sushi kit
First things first, you need a few things to make sushi. The most important being a bamboo mat, which is available at two stores in the valley: one in Maharajgunj (Fish Japanese Food Shop) and another in Pulchowk (Smart Grocery). These stores have everything—from miso paste to nori to dashi—you’d need to make some Japanese food at home.
Besides the mat, you won't need any equipment you don't already have at home, just a rice cooker, a bowl, a plate, some plastic wrap and a sharp knife. And if you don’t want to indulge in a mat, you could use an aluminium foil—but it won’t do the same job.
In the bowl, you will also need to mix some vinegar (about a tablespoon) with water to dip your fingers into. This solution will prevent the rice from sticking to your fingers when you roll the sushi.
Make the sushi rice
In Japan, becoming a sushi chef takes years of training. Typically, only after five years or so of apprenticeship is one-handed the most important task in making sushi: preparing the sushi rice.
But we don’t have the time. To cook your sushi rice, first, wash it several times, then soak in cold water for at least half an hour before you place it in the cooker. After the rice is steamed, then put it onto a plate to cool. Do not use warm rice on your nori, for it will moisten the nori and you won’t be able to slice your sushi.
You can get the rice at the two stores mentioned above. Regular Taichin rice will do, says the owner of Sakura, Ratna Kaji Maharjan.
While your rice cools, you can make a rice solution for which you need vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and salt. For two cups of rice, add half a cup of vinegar, half a cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. After the rice is cooled, carefully add this solution to the rice and mix well.
Work the mat
Take your bamboo mat and cover it tightly with some plastic wrap to stop the rice from sticking to the grooves of the mat. Then, we can get the sushi rolling.
For the avocado sushi, take a nori sheet and put in the rice on the sheet until you fill it midway. Then add in the avocado and roll the nori. At the end of the roll, dip your fingers in the vinegar-water mix and spread it on the nori so that the roll sticks together well. You can make this sushi with any other ingredient, like tuna—either canned or fresh.
For the California roll, take a nori sheet, and following the central line running across it, cut it in half before laying half a sheet along the bottom half of the bamboo mat. Then fill the sheet with rice, let it stick for a minute, and then flip it over. Then place the crab sticks and cucumber—which should be cut at the same length of the nori sheet—and then roll.
Roll it up
To roll your sushi, hold the ingredients with your index fingers and start rolling with the mat from the bottom edge, little by little. Keep rolling a few times, each time opening the mat to make sure it is tightly rolled. There should be no gaps between the rice and the filling.
Then, remove the sushi from the mat and place it on a clean, dry chopping board. Cut the roll into six pieces with a sharp, wet knife, quickly and smoothly. Wipe the knife clean on a tower soaked in water with every cut to prevent the rice from sticking to the knife. Then place the cut pieces in a plate, have some soy sauce on the side if you like, and dig in!