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Successful Sushi

Successful Sushi
Rejected for publication in the Australian Society of Anaesthetists Newsletter Volume 95, Issue 3, 1993


It had to happen.
The warning signs were all there.
First “The Hard Disk Crash of ’94”.
Then “The Plague of ’95”.
Finally “Windows ’95…Start me up…”

I tried to install Windows ’95 in a vain attempt to make my home computer as easy to use as a Macintosh.
My computer underwent a serious personality change. It petulantly claimed it had four CD ROM drives instead of one. Unfortunately none of the drives would work. This prevented me from accessing the installation disk that contained the ‘uninstall’ program. Catch 22.
I found the solution at the end of a mind bending labarynth of ‘help’ files, technical documents and web pages dedicated to those who are too embarrassed to admit their incompetance. After all, Windows ’95 is meant to herald a new way of life. My new way of life includes another change of medication. I have taken up Japanese cooking as a distraction. It is a cross between occupational therapy and meditation. An edible mantra. This month I want to share with you the simplicity of Sushi.

First of all Sushi is NOT raw fish. Raw fish is Sashimi. Sushi refers to the special sweet/sour rice that forms the foundation of the dishes. This month I will describe how to make thin Sushi rolls (Hosomaki) . The quantities given will make 4 rolls or 24 slices.

Preparing the vinegared rice (Sushi Meshi)
Part 1. First cook your rice

You will need a medium-short grain rice. In Australia you need not go past Sunwhite Calrose rice. Don’t mess with Basmati, brown or Risotto. There are three main ways to cook rice. I have gathered the following information from packets, recipe books and instruction manuals. I don’t think it matters as long as you end up with rice that is not too tender.

Traditional absorption method of preparing rice

  • Wash 1 cup of rice until the water runs clear
    The rice might be coated with starch or sugar that will leave the end product too sticky
  • Drain the rice and add 1¼ cups of water
    With the water that is absorbed during the rinsing process this equates to about 1½ cups of water
  • Let the rice stand for 30 minutes
  • Bring to a quick boil for 1 minute
  • Simmer for 30 minutes in a tightly covered pot

I usually end up with a gluggy lump stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Rapid boil method of preparing rice

  • Bring 8 cups of water to the boil and stir in 1 cup of rice
  • Continue to boil uncovered for 10-15 minutes
  • Drain

Microwave method of preparing rice

  • Wash 1 cup of rice until the water runs clear
  • Place in a deep dish and add 1½ cups hot tap water
  • Nuke on high for 10-15 minutes
  • Stir every 5 minutes

Let the rice stand for 10 minutes while you prepare the Sushi Su (Sweetened vinegar).

Preparing the vinegared rice
Part 2. Add the sweetened vinegar (Sushi Su)

There are two types of Sushi Su:

Sushi Su for the organic traditionalist

Mix 15 ml (1 Tbsp) sugar and 5 ml (1 tsp) salt into 30 ml (2 Tbsp) rice vinegar.
You may need to heat the vinegar to dissolve the sugar and salt.

Sushi Su for the industrial chemist

I use instant Sushi Su when my neuro-transmitters are on the ebb. It consists of powdered vinegar, sugar, salt, tartaric acid, malic acid, succinic acid and monosodium fumarate.

The final step in preparing Sushi rice is to mix in the Sushi Su. You are supposed to toss the rice and fan it at the same time so that each grain remains separate and dries to a glossy sheen. This is easier with the powdered Sushi Su. [Flame shields up] I just make sure it is well mixed. By the time you have squished the rice into the rolls no-one will know the difference. [Flame shields down]

Rolling your own


  • Freshly prepared Sushi rice
  • 1 packet roasted seaweed (Nori)
  • Sushi rolling mat
  • Red and green capsicum
  • Soy sauce

You will find the rolling mats next to the Nori in your Asian grocery store. Cut 2 sheets of Nori into halves with a pair of scissors so you have 4 pieces app 10cm * 20cm. You are now supposed to toast your Nori over a high flame for a few seconds until it changes colour and becomes fragrant. I tried toasting my Nori over an electric element and burnt my fingers. I don’t worry about this step any more.

Lie the Nori on a bamboo rolling mat so that it lines up with the edge of the mat closest to you.
Place ¼ of the Sushi rice (about ½ cup) in a thin layer over the Nori, leaving 2.5 cm free on the far side.

Roll the mat away from yourself using your finger tips to push down on the capsicum, rolling the mat up with your thumbs.

Keep rolling until the free edge of the mat reaches the far edge of the rice.


Lift the edge of the mat away from the roll but keep rolling.


You will now have a Sushi roll. Roll it up in the mat again this time roll completely. Squeeze the roll lightly with both hands to seal.

The last step is to slice your roll. You will need a very sharp knife. Dampen the knife with a wet cloth. Slice the roll in half. Slice each half into thirds. Clean the sticky goop off the knife between each cut.

Arrange on a plate with a bowl of Japanese soy sauce. Pure Harvest “Shoyu” is excellent. This is finger food so don’t worry about chop sticks.

Great Sushi sources can be found on the net (where else) at the “Austin USENET Guide to Sushi” and Rolling Your Own Sushi <http://www.rain.org/~hutch/sushi.html>

As Tonto would have it “More wasabe kemo sabe?”

Dave Sainsbury

EMAIL: david.sainsbury”AT”adelaide.edu.au  Last Update:02/05/2005


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