Be Your Own Sushi Master With These Tips From Our Itamae!


Just like how no two snowflakes are alike, no sushis are the same. Many people scour through Japan guidebooks to find Kyoto’s most famed sushi — the most authentic sushi Japan has to offer. Even with a guidebook in hand, with endless sushi restaurants lined up in the streets of Kyoto, it’s only normal if you’re spoilt for choices. Spare yourself the headache and learn the art of making the most authentic sushi from an itamae (sushi chef)

The Tsukiji Fish Market is filled with a variety of food
The Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan (William Tai)

Tsukiji Fish Market is Japan's first wholesale food market
Fresh seafood at Tsukiji Fish Market (Clehrich)

Take a stroll along one of Japan’s first wholesale food markets, Tsukiji Fish Market, and allow the itamae to pick out the freshest loot of the day. Remember to learn a thing or two from the master on how to make the best sashimi.

Back to the kitchen with your fresh supplies, it's time for the best part: sushi making! The itamae will most likely be teaching you the three basic types of sushi.

1. Nigiri Sushi
Nigiri means squeezed or grasped rice
Nigiri sushi is a popular sushi option with foodies (Hjw223)

Nigiri means grasped or squeezed rice. Moulded into an oblong shape with fish placed at the top and held together by a strip of seaweed, Nigiri sushi was an instant hit when it was first introduced in the 19th century. The sushi was originally already heavily marinated in soy sauce or vinegar, thus removing today's need of dipping the sushi into soy sauce.

2. Maki Sushi

Maki Sushi is cut into bite-sized pieces for easier consumption
Maki sushi are rolled sushi wrapped in seaweed (lifehack)

Also known as rolled sushi, maki sushi is usually wrapped with seaweed, but sometimes also wrapped in thin omelette, soy paper, cucumber or perilla leaves, and later cut up into bite-sized pieces.

The Maki Sushi is relatively easy to make for beginners
Maki Sushis are generally easy to make (Dennis van Zuijlekom)

An important point to note when wrapping maki sushi: the ratio between rice and ingredients. Too little ingredients and your sushi will look frail and unappetising, too much and you can’t roll it. Life is all about balance, and so is sushi.

3. Gunkan Sushi

Exquisite, beautiful and tough… like a warship!

Gunkan Sushi is oval in shaped with a strip of seaweed wrapping around its core
Gunkan sushi is sister to Nigiri sushi (Haoji)

Gunkan sushi is a special type of nigiri sushi – oval-shaped, with hand-formed rice that has a strip of seaweed wrapping around its perimeter, forming a vessel. The finished sushi is then topped with finely chopped ingredients like salmon, flying fish roe and spicy tuna.


Now you might be thinking, "but there wasn’t any tips on how to make my own authentic sushi!" Ahhhh but you see, the finer things in life are meant to be experienced personally! 

Here are some sushi-making classes you can join:

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