As I do on occasion, last weekend I decided to make sushi at home. We had some friends over, supplied the fish and the sake, and for a few hours, we were our own itamae (sushi chef). My order from arrived on Friday, and I immediately prepared the food and stored it properly for the festivities. I make sushi at home with uncertain frequency, but I have made available a section of SushiFAQ about how to make sushi at home that I recommend anyone read if they too are interested in doing the same. It is fun, relatively easy, and an experience you won’t soon forget. It is a hands on meal, and as such, I feel it creates a pleasant, informal atmosphere the brings out the best in people, as they share their creations, make a mess with their first few rolls, and share high quality food that they love.
The food arrived the next day, and I was eager to start preparing.
As there were 6 of us eating (5 adults and one 8 year old who has developed a love of sushi) there was a great deal of food to prepare. One of the favorites of the evening was the tuna. A 2 pound block had to be cut properly so that we could make both nigiri sushi, cut rolls (maki), and hand rolls (temaki). Of course we also ended up eating a lot as sashimi as well. The bits and pieces that were not shaped into the block were used in rolls to great effect.
While I tend to avoid farmed salmon, I was assured that this particular fish from New Zealand was not the usual junk that I feel most farmed salmon is. And they were right. The fillet was beautiful, it did not look artificially colored, the texture was great, and had all the rich buttery-ness that I come to expect from high grade salmon. They have changed my mind about what farmed salmon can be.
The scallops were huge. Practically the size of my fist (or so it seemed) I had to cut them in half before slicing them yet again so they would fit on the rice as nigiri sushi. They were fresh, dry scallops (not treated with sodium tripolyphosphate to preserve and bulk them up), and I couldn’t help popping a few in my mouth intact while preparing them, something I rarely get to do. Creamy and sweet, they are probably one of my favorite items from the sea.
Then, the rarely ordered abalone. These guys are shipped live, like oysters, and are not something many people have the chance to experience. They are not inexpensive, nor are they easy to prepare, but they are worth every minute of effort. I cleaned them, and sliced them thinly to be eaten, preferably, as sashimi. While still a bit crunchy, they are subtly redolent of the sea and a rare treat for me at home.
The rice was cooked and seasoned earlier in the day, and all the food was prepared for the evening.
We started with the squid salad, seaweed salad, and sake. We quickly descended into madness.
With real wasabi (instead of the paste of American horseradish that you so often see) to accompany our meal, we made our sushi, laughed at each others’ creations, and ate the best meal I have experienced in a long time.
The first rule of Sushi Club is you don’t talk about Sushi Club (oops). The second rule is that it doesn’t matter what your creation looks like as long as it tastes great (and it will). I originally wanted to document the whole process of sushi and maki making, however it is available on the How To Make Sushi section of SushiFAQ, and also, to be honest, the sake got in the way.
We rolled and ate, ate and rolled, and by the end of the evening we didn’t have much room for the mochi and ice cream that I love. At least that stores well in the freezer.
While making sushi at home may seem intimidating, it does not need to be so. It is fun, interesting, and as long as you get sushi grade fish, anyone can make great food at home, to rival a restaurant. I order my fish online or buy from a local Japanese grocery store. My cats even appreciated the left overs.