Just Try It: Be Sushi Savvy

Just Try It: Be Sushi Savvy

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010708SOCIAL.jpgNo type of food gets the “eww” factor quicker than sushi, but like Trekkies or Deadheads, this Asian-style of eating has its own dedicated cult following.

Part of the reason the sushi uninitiated find it disgusting is, of course, the preconceived notion that sushi means “raw.” Actually, sushi simply means vinegared rice that is served with a topping or filling that isn’t necessarily raw fish. Sushi can also be made with cooked fish, vegetables or fruit and egg.

For our readers who have always wanted to become culinary groundbreakers, here’s a handy Cincy Chic how-to guide to the most famous food hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun.

First we’ll cover the most common types of sushi encountered in the U.S.:

  • Nigiri-sushi: slices of fish or other items on pads of rice.
  • Maki-sushi: sushi rolled with a thin sheet of nori (sea weed).
  • Inari-sushi: ingredients stuffed into a small pouch of fried bean curd (tofu).
  • Chirashi-sushi: fish and other items served on top of a bowl of sushi rice (vinegared rice).

Next, gather your tools and desired ingredients needed for preparing homemade sushi. Beginners are fine starting out with a sharp knife and a bamboo mat, which is placed under your sushi to make it easier to roll. Mats can be purchased locally at the Cincinnati Asia Supermarket on Reading Road or as part of a “sushi kit” that can be found on www.amazon.com.

As to ingredients, your limit is your palette! Of course, sushi rice is the first and foremost ingredient. Short-grained rice is the best for sushi because it takes on the sticky consistency needed for sushi better than the long-grained varieties. Once you have your rice, buy some rice vinegar at a local supermarket and you’re ready to begin sushi-time! Generally, the recipe for sushi rice is per two cups of rice mix one-fourth a cup of rice vinegar with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Prepare the vinegar by heating it with sugar and salt until the two are dissolved. Then rinse the rice in cold water for several minutes. Steam your rice in a cooker or a pot, depending on your time availability or choice, then place the rice in a bowl or casserole dish; gently mixing in the vinegar with a wooden spoon. Once you’ve used the vinegar, being your rice to room temperature by fanning, either electrically or with the old-fashioned kind.

Once your rice is ready, other sushi ingredients include the previously mentioned nori, used to roll the sushi and gari; pickled ginger which is used to cleanse one’s palette between different types of sushi. For toppings, raw tuna, salmon or mackerel are used frequently, while avocados, cucumbers and mushrooms are also famous sushi ingredients, though you can use any vegetable that happens to be a favorite. Wasabi and soy sauce are also essential for dipping the sushi into.

Now that you’ve prepared your rice and chosen the ingredients to go into your personalized sushi, we’ll go over the two most common techniques for preparing sushi; the Makiri sushi and the Nigiri sushi.



  • Place sheet of nori on bamboo mat.
  • Spread a thin layer of rice on nori; doing so with damp hands is most effective.
  • Put your ingredients on the middle of the nori
  • Holding the edge of the mat, roll the sushi away from you.
  • Tighten the roll as you go. Once finished, you should be able to roll away the mat leaving the sushi roll intact.
  • Slice into sixths or eighths.


  • Dip hands in rice vinegar/water mixture.
  • Pick up a small handful of rice.
  • Mold rice into an oval a little less than an inch thick
  • Put the desired amount of wasabi on the rice or fish (of your choice).
  • Place fish on top of rice mound, wasabi side up.
  • Squeeze fish and rice together.

You have now assembled your first sushi roll! Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t look like something you’d generally find at a sushi restaurant, it takes a while to get the hang of it. And buck up, because once you’ve perfected your sushi roll technique you can have a sushi soiree for you closest friends; and presentation of said homemade sushi is the final step!

Sushi plates come in a variety of shape and colors, so your options are virtually limitless, though traditionally six to eight pieces are presented on a rectangular shaped platter. Pick whatever works for your taste. Sushi sets complete with larger plates, smaller wasabi plates and chopsticks can also be purchased on the internet or at local Asian markets.

Good luck and good rolling!


Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes Granite Spring Model Home
Models: Mandy Jacob
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