Hand Moulded Sushi (Nigiri-zushi)
Assembling | Raw
Nigiri-zushi is the Japanese name for what most people think of as classic sushi, a flattened ball of rice topped with a piece of (usually) raw fish. It’s easy to make, especially if you know a few basic rules. It shouldn’t be too large, a comfortable one or two bites; the slices of fish should be draped over the rice, which shouldn’t protrude past the fish; and you must use a very sharp, long knife to cut the fish in one smooth movement as close as possible to making the sushi. The below instructions are written for right-handed people, if you’re left-handed you’ll probably want to reverse them. And remember, practice makes perfect.
Makes about 30 pieces
3 cups prepared sushi rice
100g sashimi-grade tuna, thinly sliced for sushi (see notes)
100g sashimi-grade salmon, thinly sliced for sushi (see notes)
100g sashimi-grade snapper, thinly sliced for sushi (see notes)
Wasabi paste, to taste
Japanese soy sauce, for serving
Pickled ginger, for serving
Fill a finger bowl with cold water. Dip your fingers into the water, shaking off the excess; this stops the rice sticking to your fingers. With your right hand, pick up about 1 tablespoon of rice and gently squeeze and shape it into a rectangle with rounded edges.
With the index finger and thumb of your left hand, pick up a slice of fish. Using the tip of the index finger on your right hand, pick up a dab of wasabi and spread it down the centre of the fish slice. Bend the fingers of your left hand to form a shallow ‘cup’ to hold the fish and place the rice ball on the fish. Put the left thumb on the top end of the rice ball to stop the rice being pushed off the fish and, with the index and middle fingers of your right hand, gently push the rice and fish together.
Turn the sushi over so the fish is on top and repeat the process of gently pushing the fish against the rice with the index and middle fingers of your right hand, holding the thumb on the top end of the rice to stop it being pushed out. Turn the sushi 180-degrees and push the fish against the rice with the index finger and middle fingers of your right hand.
Place on a platter and repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi.
Many large fishmongers have specialist sashimi counters, if you buy the fish from one of these ask them to slice it sushi-style for you. If you buy sashimi-grade fish in a whole piece, it is usually already trimmed of any skin and dark muscle, if not, trim it and check for bones before cutting it into pieces about 6-7cm long and 3cm wide.
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