Sushi, for us, is pure bliss. Made well, the flavours blend as much as the textures do and the whole thing just fits together – no odd tastes here or there.
In Australia, sushi shops are like Starbucks in Seattle – they are everywhere but aren’t always great, however you can easily get your sushi fix for under $5. You can’t just go up to a sushi stand in Seattle (that I’ve seen, anyway) and to get our sushi hit we have to go out to a proper restaurant or make it ourselves. The problem? It takes about 2 hours to make from beginning to end and we can eat our fill in 20 minutes tops… it’s not really value for time but damn it’s still worth it.
In my previous sushi post, I discussed your typical maki sushi, the roll that most people will know about and have probably eaten. In this post, I will discuss a couple of other sushi styles that we have added to our repertoire, Nigiri and Gunkan sushi.
Our sushi/sashimi fish of choice is the sockeye salmon, which is wild caught around the ocean and rivers here in the Pacific Northwest. It has enough fat for flavour but isn’t as fatty (we’ve found) as the coho salmon that we’ve also tried. The colour is a striking red, due to the salmon’s diet of almost 100% zooplankton; this diet has another bonus, besides the amazing colour – because the sockeye don’t feed on larger aquatic creatures, they have been found to have much lower mercury levels than other fish their size. We really are spoilt for choice with seafood in the PNW.
- Be careful with sashimi (raw fish). It can be safely prepared with a fresh fish that has been handled well but there are a few pointers that you should follow: the fish shouldn’t smell fishy (after the skin and the thin layer of flesh next to the skin has been discarded), the fish should be washed with water and dried properly and the fish should never be eaten raw after the first day. And of course, store it in the fridge when it’s not being handled or eaten.
- Rice, nori and fish are all low FODMAP but be careful of anything else that is added, such as chili pastes in dynamite sauce, which shouldn’t contain onion or garlic if you can’t tolerate them.
- Wet hands make handling the sticky rice much easier – it stops it sticking to you.
- 1 cup cooked sushi rice
- 8 strips salmon sashimi, cut approximately 2 x 5 cm, with the grain of the fish running lengthwise down the slice (see photo)
Take a heaped tbsp. worth of the cooked rice and form it into a rounded oblong in the palm of your hand. Take the strip of sashimi and spread a tiny dab of wasabi along its length, then place the wasabi side of the salmon down onto the rice you shaped earlier. Squeeze the whole thing together, gently, with your palm and two fingers of your other hand, before placing it down on the serving dish. Watch this video for a good visual on how to form Nigiri sushi.
Nigiri sushi is the simplest to put together, as it does not require the sourcing of nori (which can be expensive at non-Asian grocers) or a bamboo rolling mat (a maki).
Gunkan Sushi (Gunkan Maki)
- 1 cup cooked sushi rice
- 8 strips of nori, approx. 5 x 15 cm
- Your topping of choice – spicy salmon or tuna, masago (basically anything finely diced)
- A ramekin of water
Take a heaped tbsp. of the cooked rice and shape it into a rounded oblong. Next, wrap a strip of the nori around, with the rice sitting at one end and the other end empty – dab your finger in water and rub it onto the nori where the seam will meet, because this will help it stick to itself and seal the roll.
Finally, take a tbsp. of your filling and dollop it into the top (empty) half of the gunkan, before placing it on the serving dish. Our filling was a spicy salmon sashimi (finely diced salmon mixed with mayonnaise and chili paste).
Serve with soy sauce (gluten free if necessary) to dip. Alternatively, you could add a drop of lemon juice or sesame oil to the soy sauce to change things up a little bit.