The Five Star Club on campus hosted an after-school workshop on sushi-making. I love to eat sushi and didn't get to attend last semester's workshop, so naturally I went.
Chef Andy from We Be Sushi was our guest instructor for the day. He's been making sushi for 50 years, and his mother for 50 years, so with a century of accumulated experience, I knew this was the real deal.
Before diving into the hands-on stuff, we got a mini lecture, replete with diagrams, on how to (and not to) wrap our sushi. For regular maki rolls, you want to spread your rice (get two mounds about the size of two large eggs - wet hands to prevent sticking) over the rough side of a half sheet of nori (seaweed), leaving a half inch of space at the top. The rice should be heavier on the top and bottom with a trough in the middle for the other ingredients.
Sprinkle a layer of sesame seeds and swipe a pinch of wasabi (if desired) before laying on fish/vegetable/etc. Make sure the nori is positioned half an inch from the bottom edge of the bamboo mat (which is wrapped in plastic to prevent sticking).
The actual rolling motion occurs twice. The first roll has the bottom edge of the bamboo mat touching the top edge of rice. The second roll incorporates that half inch of seaweed space. To keep the rice fluffy, apply only a little pressure to the rolls. When finished, place the roll with the seam side down so the steam moisture can seal the nori edges together.
We made a lot of different rolls - cucumber, mushroom avocado, spicy tuna, salmon, tamago (egg), and California roll. For the inside out rolls, rice should cover the entire half sheet of nori and there only needs to be one rolling motion.
After that we moved on to nirigi sushi, with precise shaping instructions. First lay your fish in your palm vertically in the crook formed by your fingers, then dab a dot of wasabi in the middle. Then grab a matchbook-sized piece of rice and lay that on the fish. Then pinch the top and bottom of the rice once (with thumb and index finger), then half-close your hand (as if making a fist) while laying your index finger across the rice pressing down (as shown above). Then rotate the piece so the fish is on top. This time pinch the left and right sides (with thumb and middle finger), then lay your finger across the fish pressing down. Finish by rotating the piece 180 degrees, pinching the the left and right sides (with thumb and middle finger) and laying your finger across the fish pressing down.
We made shrimp, salmon, albacore (white tuna) and unagi (eel) nigiri.
After that Chef Andy showed us how to make sushi rice from scratch, without a cooker (the rice we had used for our rolls/nigiri had been pre-made in a cooker). The pictorial instructions are here, but basically you take equal parts of nishiki rice and water, let the rice soak in the pot for at least an hour, then bring the pot to a boil over medium high heat and let it boil for 1 minute, then let turn the heat down to medium for 2 minutes, then turn the heat down and simmer for 7 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the pot sit on the stove for 15 minutes.
After that the rice is combined with sushi vinaigrette. For 1 quart of rice you'll need 7 oz Japanese rice vinegar, 4 tablespoons sugar and 1 heaping tablespoon of salt. The vinaigrette mixture can be boiled if you want the salt and sugar fully dissolved.
Using a big bowl, combine rice and vinaigrette, then comb through the rice with the skinny edge of the rice paddle to break up any lumps. Use immediately, or keep in a covered container.
And there you have it, sushi and sushi rice as a master taught it.