Nigiri is perhaps the easiest of all sushi to make, and sashimi is even easier. Jordan Rubin, chef at the new Middleton restaurant, Maggie's Farm on Route 114, shows us his technique.
Nigiri is a type of sushi consisting of a ball of rice molded into a rectangular prism shape overlaid by the topping. Rubin shows us how to make salmon nigiri, which he says is "a little more adventurous for your palate" since it uses raw fish. However, nigiri can also be made with cooked seafood, such as prawns or octopus, or vegetarian options, such as omelet or tofu for those who are less courageous.
Outside Japan, people often use the terms sushi and sashimi interchangeably, but they are not the same. Sushi always involves rice, whereas sashimi refers to raw meat or raw fish, served simply sliced with some condiments, such as soy sauce, on the side. Rubin shows us how to make tuna sashimi, which is very simple since it is just a matter of slicing it correctly; "You don't want to cut it too thick cause then you won't be able to chew it and you don't want to cut it too thin cause you won't really be able to taste the fish."
The most important tool for both salmon nigiri and tuna sashimi is a very sharp knife; this is essential if you want to cut neat, even slices without tearing the fish. Rubin dips the knife in water and lets it run down the blade, then he supports the fish — "that is going to help keep it from tearing" — and aims to cut the fish in one clean stroke.
It is very important that you choose very fresh fish. People often refer to "sushi grade" or '"sashimi grade" fish but there is a common misconception that this refers to an FDA standard. The FDA recommends specific freezing conditions in order to kill parasites on fish intended for raw consumption, but this is referred to as "parasite destruction technique."
Rubin serves the salmon nigiri and tuna sashimi with some soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. The sashimi is presented on a bed of julienned daikon, which is a type of Japanese radish, and with a leaf of Japanese mint. The daikon is traditionally used as a garnish to keep the fish moist, but Rubin likes to put a bit on his tuna sashimi to "get a nice little crunch."
Nigiri and Sashimi
1 piece raw salmon, sushi grade
1 cup sushi rice (see related recipe)
1 piece of raw tuna, sushi grade
2 servings of daikon, julienne
2 servings of Japanese mint
2 servings soy sauce
2 servings pickled ginger
2 servings wasabi paste
1. Slice salmon into small, thin filets. (Note: wetting knife in between slices helps to prevent tearing the fish.)
2. Take a small ball of rice and place salmon slice over the ball, forming a mold around the rice ball.
3. Place on serving plate rice side down.
1. Slice tuna into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. (Note wetting knife in between slices helps to prevent tearing the fish.)
2. Place on serving plate with condiments.
For sushi rice:
Here is a recipe for making sushi rice. Japanese rice is short grain rice and gets slightly sticky when it is cooked. Long grain rice isn't proper for sushi because it is drier and doesn't stick together nearly as well.
3 cups Japanese rice
31/4 cups water
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1. Wash rice with cold water and repeat until the water becomes nearly clear.
2. Drain and set aside for 30 minutes. Cook the rice by adding water per package instructions.
3. Make sushi vinegar by mixing the vinegar, salt and the sugar in a sauce pan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture.
4. Place the hot steamed rice into a large plate or a large non-metallic bowl to prevent any interaction of metal with rice vinegar. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice quickly but being careful not to smash the rice. The sushi rice should have a shiny look and should be used as soon as possible.
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Recipes courtesy of Jordan Rubin, Maggie's Farm, 2012.