Sushi is one of those dishes that everyone seems to enjoy but very few of us are brave enough to try making at home. Just looking at the intricate designs and master craftsmanship involved, it can be a little intimidating. Films like Jiro Dreams Of Sushi will leave you marvelling at the artistry and skill that a master sushi maker must possess, having dedicated their entire life to the art.
It is most likely true that none of us will ever attain this level of brilliance, but we can still enjoy the fruits of their labour, and we can still dabble in sushi making at home, perhaps inspired by the masters, but happy to “dumb it down” just a little.
Enter Sushi Simplicity-MakingMouth Watering Sushi at Home. This is a great introduction to the fine art of making Sushi by Japanese dietician and food scientist Miyuki Matsuo. Originally published in Japan in 2012, it was translated last year to reach the English speaking market and has been doing a brisk business, combining traditional elements with modern twists, emphasizing simplicity, taste and visual appeal.
“Small, cute, simple and delicious, these sushi will liven up the table with a pop of bright colour,” writes Miyuki in her foreword. “Please enjoy making these recipes on special occasions when you want to serve something adorable.” Well, who doesn’t want something adorable every now and then?
The book itself is not unlike the sushi described within; it is small, colourful, precise, simple, and yes, adorable. Miyuki starts us off with a short chapter on sushi basics, outlining the tools required like the traditional wooden sushi rice bowl, (handai), dishcloths, molds, wooden spoons and the traditional paper fan, the essential tool for fanning and cooling off the rice, resulting in the classic glossy, non sticky rice.
Many of the recipes use sushi rice, of course, and egg omelette, so Miyuki provides the basic instruction on making perfect rice and the perfect thin omelette, as well as basics for pickle preparation; seasame ponzu pickled burdock, lemon pickled radish and sweet pickled lotus root.
The sushi itself is described in five chapters, each devoted to a simple, user-friendly style. Part one centers on Ball Sushi. “Small and sweet…bite sized round sushi are adorable and neat but super simple to make” Ingredients range here from scallops, shrimp and squid to lemon pickled radish. The secret to ball sushi it seems is the use of saran wrap. Place a small amount of rice on a piece of saran wrap, and squeeze it until you get a nice tight, ball shape. On a separate piece of plastic wrap, place your topping. Place your ball on top of this, and wrap again, squeezing so that the topping gets pressed into the rice a bit. Unwrap and voila! Ball sushi is that simple!
Now that we’ve gained a little confidence, Miyuki leads us towards slightly more demanding techniques; Cup Sushi, Simple Presssed Sushi, and “Simply Special Gunkan-maki & Inari” Gunkan maki ( “Battleship Sushi) is ball sushi that is wrapped with nori or thinly sliced vegetable, like cucumber, and Inari is fried tofu sushi.
The sushi in the final chapter, “Cake Sushi”, Miyuki advises us to save for a special occasion. Wreath sushi, sheet cake sushi and a lovely and show-stopping Layer Cake Sushi inspired by a Caprese salad combines layers of Sushi rice, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, with avocado, smoked salmon and anchovies. Guaranteed simple, fresh, and delicious.