Saturday, 1 September 2012

ITTP Prague: Nigiri Sushi

"For better or worse... It's [food] the new pornography. It's people seeing things on TV. Watching people make things on TV, that they're not going to be doing themselves anytime soon. Just like porn."

Quote by: Anthony Bourdain (Celebrity chef and outspoken novelist).

(Click on photo to enlarge)
This week's recipe was inspired by my recent trip to Japan, where I was fortunate to be introduced to affordable sushi options down Tokyo backstreets and where the tourist crowd rarely (if ever) venture. For this I have my Japanese guides Jun and Mori to thank unconditionally. This recipe is more of a preparation than an actual cooking session; however the key is getting the sushi rice seasoning and texture just right. As you can imagine, Japanese food ingredients are not cheap to come by in Prague but this meal does work out economically when you consider how many times you can reuse the remaining rice vinegar for future dishes for example. You can also always add locally smoked fish instead of the more expensive option of buying the frozen Sashimi fish. Btw, all the ingredients were purchased from the Dejvicka branch of JAPA. This type of sushi is very simple to prepare and so much more affordable than going out and eating sushi in Prague:


Ingredients (Click on photo to enlarge)

2 cups of short-grained Japanese white rice
1 quarter cup of Japanese rice vinegar
2 teaspoons of salt
1 pack of (frozen) Sashimi - strips of fish. Fresh would be better but the CZ is a landlocked nation.
1 quarter cup of sugar
Japanese soy sauce
Pickled ginger


1. Preparing the sushi rice seasoning:

The sushi seasoning after cooking (Click on photo to enlarge)
- Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a pot and stir gently over a low to medium heat - until the sugar and salt become dissolved in the vinegar. It is essential that the liquid doesn't boil. Take off the heat and set aside.

2. Making the sushi rice:

Japanese short-grained rice soaking in water (Click on photo to enlarge)
 - Rinse the rice in cold water, several times, until most of the starch has gone and you are left with clear water. This process will take about 10 minutes. Then leave the rice to soak in the water for 15-30 minutes.

- Strain the water out, place the rice in a cooking pot and add 2 cups of cold water. Gently bring to the boil and immediately cover the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting and leave for 10 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and leave the pot with its lid on so that the rice continues to cook in its own steam and so that there is no burning of the rice from the pot being on the stove or cooker.

The cooked and seasoned rice (Click on photo to enlarge)
- After 15 minutes of this cooking in its own steam process, add the sushi seasoning by carefully incorporating it fully into the rice so that each grain is covered in it and then take the seasoned rice out of the pot and place in a bowl to cool - preferably a wood or glass bowl (I used a ceramic one). When the rice has cooled it is ready to be used for the Nigiri Sushi dish.

3. Preparing the Nigiri Sushi pieces:

The Nigiri sushi pieces (Click on photo to enlarge)
- Make sure that you have a bowl of cold water close to you and simply dip your hands in the water and take out small pieces of the rice and mold into shape. Place the piece of fish on top. It's really as simple as that. The pieces of fish which came with the pack included Sea Bass, Crab, Squid, Prawn, Tuna. If you wanted to you could brulee the squid a few minutes before serving.

4. Eating the Nigiri sushi:

- You can eat it as you like but the recommended way is to take a small bit of the Wasabi and place on the sushi, then dip the sushi into the soy sauce and pop it in your mouth, using chopsticks of course. The levels of taste are truly remarkable. At first you notice the sharpness of the Wasabi but this is counter-balanced by the delicate aroma of the soy sauce, and then the texture of the fish blends perfectly with the juicy sweetness of the rice. In between tastings it is advised to take a bite of the pickled ginger to neutralize your taste buds and prepare your mouth for the next bite.

Preparation Tip:

The preparation of the rice is key and sushi chefs first have to master the art of rice preparation before mastering the fish element. It is also essential that you do use short-grained rice because long-grained rice doesn't provide that stickiness required for the molding of the sushi rice pieces. The rice must be consumed within 1 hour of being cooked or else it will dry and lose its flavor.

Pimp it up:

Sake is a must with this dish. For those of you who don't know, Sake is rice wine and is traditionally drunk with Sushi.

Hope it helps!

Dobrou chut!/Bon appetit!

Neville :-)