Have you ever wanted to try your hand at making your own sushi? Has the idea of making maki been keeping you up at night? Have the tantalising secrets of sashimi been eluding you? Well, fear no longer, oh sushi-seeking ones. Silla Bjerrum of Feng Sushi has given Hg2 readers a guide to homemade sushi. And there’s nothing fishy about how easy these recipes are…
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To make sushi at home you will need few basic ingredients: sushi rice, sushi vinegar, nori seaweed sheets, toasted sesame seeds, wasabi, ginger and Japanese soy sauce. These seven basic ingredients are gradually becoming more available and can be find in Japanese shops, health food stores, Waitrose and often also found in other Asian food like Thai or Chinese. Clearspring does an excellent range of Japanese products and these are available from Waitrose, WholeFoods and other health food stores ( this range can also be bought online for extra ease). A visit to your local Japanese store is also good as you can pick up interesting pickles and sprinkles for a different style sushi.
Finding decent fish (read more here) is much easier if you have a good local fishmonger. The big secret of fresh fish is that it should never smell ‘fishy’. Whole fish are good but if the gills are no longer bright and spongy and the eyes sunken in then you will know this fish is not suitable for sushi. Build up a rapport with your fishmonger and ask leading questions: is the fish from day boats, when was it caught, which farm is the farmed fish from and what does he/she know about the farm? Like a good butcher, a good fishmonger will have passion and know a lot about the product he sells. Often the terms ‘sashimi grade’ or ‘sushi grade’ are used to define whether the fish is of the right provenance. I recommend sustainable or organic farmed salmon like Loch Duart or Shetland, local hook and line mackerel from day boats, hook and pole-caught yellow fin tuna from the Maldives, organic tiger prawns and Devon crab as staple fish to start your sushi adventure with.
Here are some recipes for a seared tuna sashimi and various maki, including one with tiger prawns maki tempura. All good starter recipes to familiarise yourself with Japanese ingredients and hopefully you will experiment with your own combinations thereafter.
Seared Tuna Sashimi with Fresh Herbs and Dipping Sauce
400-500 gram yellow fin tuna loin
50 grams black sesame seeds
50 grams white sesame seeds
50 grams black pepper corn
pinch of salt
1 pun net shiso cress
1 pun net pea shoot cress
20 speaks of chives
1 stick of mooli
100 ml. olive oil
100 ml soy sauce
50 ml yuzu juice
2 tbsp of honey
First prepare the mooli salad (read how here) on Japanese mandolin or turning machine; place in a large mixing bowl covered with ice and water, leave to rest in the fridge. Place sesame seeds and black pepper corn in mortar and pestle; grind all ingredients into a course paste and decant onto a plate. Cut tuna loin into blocks of 2.5 inch by 1 inch by 1 inch and press sesame and pepper mixture on to all sides.
Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the blocks of tuna on each long side for about a minute, so the outside of the block is cooked and the inside remains raw. Remove the tuna from the pan and set aside to rest on a piece of kitchen towel.
Rinse mooli salad and drain in a colander. Arrange the mooli on 4 serving plates (for a starter) or 1 large serving plate for a buffet. Cut each block of tuna on the bias sashimi style (read how here), approx ½ centimetres thick, and place on top of the mooli. Whisk soy sauce, yuzu juice and honey together and drizzle over tuna and finely top with chives, shiso and pea shoot cress
Various Maki: Green Goddess, Spicy Tuna and Italian Summer
500 gram ready sushi rice
75 ml. sushi vinegar
Piece of konbu (optional)
8 sheets of nori
200 gram black and white sesame seeds
Ginger, soy and wasabi to serve
100 gram salmon off cuts
100 gram tuna off cuts
Japanese chilli powder
Kimchii chilli sauce
50 gram of furikake sprinkle or fresh chopped herbs
50 gram rocket leaves
1 bunch chives
½ bunch coriander
½ bunch basil
30 grams toasted pine nuts
½ clove garlic
1 tbsp sweet chilli
Olive oil and sunflower oil
To prepare the sushi rice (read how here): wash in cold water, tipping out water of container between each wash. Wash until water runs clear, approximately 10 times, thereafter tip into a colander. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. To cook add rice to a wide saucepan (or small electric cooker) and add water so the rice water ratio is 1 rice to 1.25 water. Do not add salt.
Bring the rice to the boil; let it simmer for 17 minutes and then rest for 17 minutes. If cooking in a rice cooker turn on the rice cooker and when the rice cooker click back on hot holding let it rest for 17 minutes in the rice cooker.
When the rice has rested, empty it into a tray and leave to ‘steam off’ for about 10 minutes, until it reaches 50 degrees C. It is important not to add the sushi vinegar to very hot rice or the humidity will cause the grains to collapse.
Position a portable fan directly so that it blows cold air on to the rice. Sprinkle 75ml sushi vinegar over the rice and incorporate by making diagonal across the rice with a spatula. Leave the rice under the fan for 7-10 minutes, until it cools to room temperature. The rice is now ready to use and use within 4 hours (do not refrigerate).
Make the maki: Wrap a rolling mat tightly in cling film. Place a piece of nori and gently spread the rice across the sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and turn sheet around so rice is facing down and nori up.
Add your filling;
Italian Summer: Salmon, rocket, cucumber and Feng pesto; Spicy Tuna: Tuna mince, cucumber, kimchee chilli and sprinkle maki in Japanese chilli powder; Green Goddess: avaocdo, chives, cucumber, rocket, Feng pesto and sprinkle in furikake or finely chopped herbs.
Roll the sushi gently tucking in the filling (see Silla’s book, Simple Japanese, for rolling technique). Using a broad and thin bladed knife cut into 8 and serve with ginger, soy and wasabi.
Tiger Prawn Maki with Mizune
400 gram ready sushi rice (see recipe in various maki recipe)
4 sheets of nori
80 gram black and white sesame seeds
80 gram good quality organic mayo
50 gram of mizuna leaves
8 tiger prawns
Ginger, soy and wasabi to serve
½ litre ice cold water approx.
300 gram tempura flour (or 250 gram self rising flour, 50 gram corn flour and 2 egg yolks) and extra flour for dusting
2 litre sunflower oil for frying
For the tempura batter: Start with the ice cold water and thereafter add flour mix. Gently whisk ingredients so that the batter has the consistency of double cream with plenty of flour lumps and air bubbles; this is what makes the tempura crisp. Leave to rest in the fridge. Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer or wok to 180 degrees Celsius. Peel and remove vein from the tiger prawns; ‘break’ the spine in a few places to make them longer. Dust prawns in flour and add to batter before gently lower them one by one in the frying oil gently moving them around to keep the batter intact. Place on a piece of kitchen towel.
Assemble the maki: Wrap a rolling mat tightly in cling film. Place a piece of nori and gently spread the rice across the sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and turn sheet around so rice is facing down and nori up. Spread a gentle serving of mayo across the sheet, place 2 tiger prawns across, and add mizune leaves. Roll the sushi gently tucking in the filling. Using a broad and thin bladed knife cut into 8 and serve with ginger, soy and wasabi.