Monday, February 11, 2008


Sushi, for many in the West a synonym for Japanese food, is a general term for all dishes using sumeshi (vinegared rice) in combination with other ingredients, mainly raw fish. However, sushi began life not in Japan, but in ancient South-East Asia as a method for preserving fresh fish in steamed rice with salt.
Sushi was developed in its present form, based in vinegared rice, in the 19th century and flourished on street stalls in Edo, now Tokyo. It was the ‘fast-food’ of the time – and in many ways it still is. Many of children still take sushi as a special lunch for school outing, sports days and theatres.

There are four main types of sushi:

1. Rice rolled in sun-dried nori seeweed with ingredients in the centre, known as maki-zushi or nori maki
2. Rice press in a mould, topped with cured or salted fish, known as oshi-zushi or bo-zushi.
3. ‘Fingers’ of rice with a slice of fish, seafood or omelette on top, known as nigiri-zushi.
4. Bowls of rice with other ingredients mixed through or arranged on top, known as chirashi-zushi

All are easy to make at home, though nigiri-sushi is normally eaten at restaurants as it requires trained hands to mould rice to the right hardness so that the whole piece can be picked up easily yet still loosen once in the mouth. I will introduce some new ideas so you can be able to have fun making sushi through step by step making sushi rolls, using readily available ingredients as well as more authentic kinds. Many ingredients are now available in larger supermarkets and specialist food stores.
The key to success in handling rice is to treat it like a child, be gentle but firm with authority. Do not be put off at your first attempt, you need patience just as with children, and practice really does make perfect.
Sushi is ideal for parties too, rolled sushi (norimaki) and pressed sushi (oshi-zushi) can be made the day before and kept (at room temperature) until ready to serve. The lunchbox sushi mixture (chirashi) can also be prepared in advance and mixed with the other ingredients just before serving. Many sushi combination are also suitable for vegetarians. Try sushi; you’ll find it’s easy.