Sushi in a day: Blue Fin Tuna Nigiri and Hamachi Toro

In Japan, sushi chefs aren’t born in a day.  Apprentices typically work for five years and spend at least the first two just learning to make rice.  During that time, the apprentice watches and learns before he’s allowed to even pick up a knife.  So the fact that we spent all of a day at LCB learning to cut fish and make sushi rice was kind of a joke.  But we sure had fun.

Making perfect sushi rice is an acquired skill, but mine didn’t come out too bad.  We started with medium short grain rice (in general, the shorter the grain the stickier it is), and washed and dried our rice overnight.  To the pot we added a little salt and sugar, plus a small square of kombu (kelp) for flavoring.  When it was cooked and still hot we placed it in a bamboo hangiri (bowl) to cool it and mix it with a solution of sugar, salt, and rice wine vinegar that was heated to dissolve the sugar.  That’s where the skill comes in; you have to cut the rice with the solution and not break the grains.  My rice came out pretty good.  Not five-years-experience good, but still sticky without being mushy.

For the nigiri we had a beautiful hunk of blue fin tuna and another of yellowtail (hamachi).  Chef Oh Really portioned out the fish and I was smart and fast enough to grab the belly cut from the yellowtail (toro!).  He then taught us how to slice at a bias against the grain.  My first few pieces didn’t come out so well but I got the hang of it after a while.

We had all the fixins: wasabi powder, pickled ginger, soy, sesame seeds, sriracha rooster sauce, and nori.  I made nigiri out of my tuna and hamachi toro, and with my trimmings I made a spicy tuna roll with avocado, carrots, and cucumber.  I topped that off with more slices of tuna, hamachi, and avocado, to create a rainbow roll.  I brought chopsticks, a chopstick rest, and a soy sauce dish from home to complete the look.  My chef was impressed with that one.

Sushi plate

And there you have it.  Give me five more years and maybe I’ll be up to snuff.  But I deserve a pat on the back for my first attempt.  I’ve dined in at least three dozen sushi joints over the years and I’d say my plate would have ranked right near the bottom of the top half.

Next up: more grains from around the world.


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