My husband, Chris, and I just got back early this afternoon from a quick trip to Portland, Oregon where we relaxed, explored the beautiful city, and, of course, ate to our hearts content. I will post a more-detailed trip report later, but Salt & Pepper Ribeye, Peruvian Lamb Shank in a Cilantro-Black Beer Sauce, and a Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Burger were some of the highlights.
After our weekend of indulging, we were in the mood for something light and perhaps a bit healthier for dinner. Fortunately, our favorite Japanese market was right on our way home from LAX so we stopped and picked up some fresh sushi-grade slabs of salmon and yellowtail for nigiri sushi.
Nigiri is the type of sushi made with raw fish atop a clump of vinegared rice that is smeared with a dab of wasabi, or Japanese horseradish. This is our favorite sushi because of its simplicity and the harmonious combination of the slightly sweet vinegared rice; fresh and clean tasting fish; pungent, burns-your-nose wasabi; and the salty soy sauce. We are lucky to have Japanese supermarkets here in Southern California that carry fresh, high-quality fish so that we can prepare our own sushi, at a fraction of the price charged at sushi restaurants.
The first step in making any type of sushi is to cook the Japanese short-grain white rice, which is sticky due to its high starch content. The Sushi Encyclopedia details the step-by-step method of cooking the rice – washing and rinsing the raw rice, cooking it in a pot (if you don’t own a rice cooker), adding the vinegar flavoring, and cooling the rice. Once the rice is made, slice the fish or other toppings into approximately 1/2-ounce portions and assemble the sushi by following this method. Serve with some pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.
Sushi chefs go through rigorous training before they become chefs but don’t be intimidated, sushi can be made fairly easily at home. The Sushi Encyclopedia is a good primer to get you started, just don’t expect your nigiri to have that perfect, uniform look on your first (or second or third) try. It will still taste great as long as you use sushi-grade fish from a reputable market and are willing to jump in and try it.