Sushi is really popular in the United States. Ranks right up there with tacos. Kind of hard to believe that it wasn’t always a part of American culture, because it certainly is now. The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi by Jeffrey Elliot & Robby Cook is the perfect cookbook for to explore the subject further.
Did you know Sushi was introduced in the 1950s? Not many takers then, but we now enjoy sushi whenever we want, almost anywhere we want, from delis to grocery stores to airports. Most people assume that sushi has to be eaten with chopsticks, but it’s actually recommended to eat certain sushi, like maki rolls and nigiri with your fingers. Who knew?
Rice is the basis for much of sushi. It’s a special short-grain variety of rice seasoned with a mix of rice vinegar, salt and sugar, called awase-zu. The rice mixture, called shari, is somewhat sticky so it can be formed into the shape needed for nigiri, which is topped with fish, or rolled to make maki. You can even find sushi made with brown rice.
You shouldn’t go all commando with wasabi. Nigiri is already seasoned with it. If you prefer your sushi with a bit more wasabi, put a dash of it onto the sushi. Never mix wasabi into soy sauce unless you’re eating sashimi. Use pickled ginger (gari) as a palate cleanser between bites, not as an additional topping. The ginger can also be used as a tool to brush your sushi with soy sauce using your chopsticks.
Review partners Adrianne and Linda Kissam recommend this book to cooks who already know the basics and want to expand their knowledge. It’s great for those who want to learn more about the sushi process and for those readers who aren’t likely to make these dishes at home but, after reading it, will be excited to try more exotic sushi and sashimi when going out. See our individual reviews below.
I confess. I can’t resist taking home the sushi combo-pack every time I shop at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I love it. But making it at home, on my own? I couldn’t imagine doing this until I started reading this comprehensive cookbook. I’ve watched people on TV and YouTube make Sushi — Samantha made it (and wore it!) in an episode of Sex in the City.
What is Sashimi anyway? Oh yes… raw fish. Isn’t it kind of dangerous to handle if you don’t know what you’re doing? Preparing either seems more than intimidating to this meat & potatoes, processed-foods-changing-to-paleo home-cook but I’m up for a challenge… are you?
If yes, then get The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi by Jeffrey Elliot & Robby Cook and for the price of $30 or just one-time eating out you can be making your own sushi and loving it. Of course you’ll need some tools like bamboo rolling mats and proper knives but once you have these and a trustworthy source for fresh fish, you, like Samantha, can’t be stopped if you really want to master artful food preparation.
I especially love this style of cookbook because it’s “spiral’ bound so it lies flat on the counter or in a cookbook stand. Plus there are lots of pictures showing step-by-step instructions (625 to be exact). I’ve learned from reviewing a variety of cookbooks that I’m a visual reader so the more photos the better. Gift this book to your best cooking buddy with an invitation to go shopping then make California Rolls together (for me, it’s a bit intimidating to attempt alone). Assuming you succeed, and enjoy the process, how can you resist making Dragon Rolls for your next Game of Thrones viewing party?
If after reading this cookbook you don’t get excited about sushi, I just don’t know what to tell you. This is one of those great step-by-step guides with tons of recipes, photos, tips and tricks that make the art of cooking seem fun and doable. The recipes are short with a minimum of ingredients and steps to completion. I especially like the “equipment” suggestions for each recipe. You know what to have in front of you before you begin prep. For impatient home cooks like myself, this cookbook is right up my butcher block.
A Taste of the Cookbook
Here’s a small taste of the book for you to try out and enjoy.
Hand-Shaped Sushi Nigiri
Courtesy of The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi by Jeffrey Elliot & Robby Cook © 2015 www.robertrose.ca. Reprinted with publisher permission.
MAKES 20 PIECES
This is the basic technique for making nigiri. But even though it’s somewhat basic, it will require a lot of practice. Until you master hand-shaping the sushi rice, it’s best to limit the types of fish you practice with, to avoid any waste. Pre slice the fish using the sogizukuri technique (see page 119) before beginning the recipe.
Flip Method (Yokotegaeshi)
2 cups Sushi Rice (see recipe below), divided 500 mL
20 pieces sushi fish (about 1 lb/500 g), 20
Dab wasabi paste Dab
Any type of high-quality fish can be used to make nigiri. Tuna, salmon, yellowtail and white fish are all excellent to use if you are a beginner. Once you become more proficient, you can try flatfish and shellfish.
To make these using the roll method (kotegaeshi), in Step 9 use the fingers of your guide hand to roll over the sushi so that it is fish side up.
When making nigiri, you will need to re wet your hands repeatedly to prevent sticking. If you prefer, use nonstick gloves.
• Wet towel
• Nonstick gloves, optional
For vegetarian sushi: Try using pickled vegetables found at Japanese supermarkets, such as cucumber (kyu¯ri), eggplant (nasu), burdock root (gobo), daikon radish (takuan), ginger shallot (myo¯ga) or Japanese turnip (kabu). You can also use fresh or lightly blanched daikon sprouts (kaiware). In fact, you can use any vegetable you have on hand, as long as it will stay on top of the rice (although you can use a piece of nori to help; see page 147).
Sushi Rice Shari
MAKES 4 CUPS (1 L)
Making rice for sushi is the most important thing you will learn in this book. Without good sushi rice, you can’t make sushi. Apprentice chefs in Japan may take one to two years to perfect rice before they move on to fish. Using a rice cooker will take some of the guesswork out of cooking rice, but following this recipe will help you to cook it on the stovetop.
2 cups water 500 mL
2 cups sushi rice 500 mL
1 piece (4 inches/10 cm) konbu optional 1
1⁄2 batch Sushi Vinegar 1⁄2
• Fine-mesh sieve
• Large bowl
• Heavy saucepan with tight-fitting lid
• Hangiri, optional
• Rice paddle (shamoji) or spatula
• Fan, optional
While your rice is cooking, soak your hangiri and rice paddle in cold water to prevent sticking. Drain and wipe dry before adding the rice. If you don’t have a hangiri, use a wide, shallow non-reactive bowl or a clean wooden salad bowl.
If you don’t have a Japanese rice paddle (shamoji), use a wooden or silicone spatula, lightly moistened with water.
Your finished rice should be subtly flavored, free of any clumps and firm but tender, never mushy.
When making nigiri, it is important to work quickly. If you go too slowly, you will transfer too much body heat to the fish and rice, which will make it too warm for serving (sushi should be served at room temperature). This is why it is best to practice making rice balls without the fish, until you develop comfort and speed.
The Complete Guide to Sushi & Sashimi
by Jeffrey Elliot & Robby Cook
Hard Copy about $24
Easy-to-follow recipes come from two of the leading experts in North America, who explain everything there is to know about sushi and knives.