Let’s learn some basic techniques so you can start tackling that learning curve.
When you are cutting ingredients for maki, think long and slim. A good general rule is about 3 inches long, but only 1/2 inch – 1 inch thick. Typically ingredients are placed in pairs, like two strips of cucumber neck to neck. This also applies to fish, though it must be noted that fish cut for maki is different from fish cut for sushi or sashimi. Pieces for maki can be more oblong; basically the pieces that wouldn’t work for sushi or sashimi are best suited to maki. There is not that much technique involved with this; just cut them into strips about 3 inches long by 1 inch wide.
When you cut fish for sushi or sashimi, there is more of a technique behind it. This technique explains why sashimi knives are so long. The fish is meant to be cut in one single slice. You start at the base of your blade and start slicing down (about 1/2 inch thick) on an angle pulling towards you. When you get to the end of the cut, angle your blade up towards the tip and change your angle to fit the contour of the fish which changes towards the bottom of the cut. This takes a lot of practice, but don’t be discouraged! It does not have to be perfect.
Sushi pieces are longer than sashimi pieces. A piece of sushi should be just over 3 inches long. To cut sashimi, take this same sushi cut but divide the sliced fish into 3 pieces. Different types of fish require slightly different cutting technique; pay attention to the contour of the fish and keep practicing.
Until we reach the advanced course, just use the nigiri molds for now if you want to make nigiri sushi. I would also recommend waiting until the advanced course to prepare sashimi as well as it is usually served with some pretty intricate garnishes.
Let’s focus on maki for now, instead. You already learned how to put together the two foundation ingredients for maki.
Apply rice to nori according to which type of sushi you are going to make
Ok so now we are ready to roll! All maki rolls are rolled the same way. Keep a bowl of cold water, and a cloth nearby to keep your hands clean and moist.
- Working with moistened hands, spread on the nori the amount of rice depending on the specific maki style which learned in lesson 4. Focus on spreading and making flush, rather than pressing and squeezing.
- Then place your ingredient(s) in the center of the rice so that it evenly reaches both ends of the nori.
- Grabbing the the base of your rolling mat while holding your ingredient in place with your fingertips, flip the lower half of the nori and rice sheet over the ingredient while tucking the ingredient tightly towards you.
- Lift up the mat and finish the roll.
- Working with the mat over the roll, gently shape the maki by pressing your forefingers to the top, your thumbs and middle fingers to the side, and pulling along the length of it with even pressure. Do this once, focusing on the top, and a second time focusing on the sides; repeat as necessary. The shape you are aiming for is that of a tunnel.
- Line up the side of the mat with your roll and press towards the center of the roll so that it is flush. Make sure the seam faces down.
- *For futo and hoso, leave the seam side down for several minutes before cutting, and the seam will seal itself.
- Cut the roll in half using a sawing motion.
- This part takes practice but you can add training wheels by using a ruler and marking guidelines on your cutting board.
- Line up the two halves and evenly cut into thirds, forming 6 pieces.
- *Cutting a futomaki is different; cut in half and then cut each half evenly into 5 pieces, forming 10 total.
- Now that your maki is cut, we are ready for the finishing touches.