Salmon Sashimi & Nigiri
We’ve all seen or at least read about Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and you know how serious Sushi and Sashimi can be taken. That being said, this doesn’t mean you need to shy away from attempting Sushi in the comfort of your own home.
For those new to Sushi, all the different terms that one can come across can seem a little daunting and quite confusing. Maki, Futomaki, Uramaki, Nigiri, Sashimi are all words you’ve probably heard before or seen on a menu when dining at a Japanese restaurant. For this week’s recipe, we’re focusing on a tried and tested Sashimi & Nigiri combo, with Sashimi grade Salmon.
We’re starting simple and not treading into the deep end with this one. Sashimi is just the fish, and Nigiri is the fish on top of rice…that’s it! There’s no Sushi rolling in this recipe, no careful placement of several components all needed to be wrapped up in order to fulfil the recipe. On the contrary, this Sashimi-Nigiri combo recipe features only two key components, the fish & the rice.
In modern times, we tend to associate Japan with raw fish. But in actuality, this is more of a modern feature of Japanese culinary culture. For a long time, the avoidance of eating animal flesh, as Buddhist & Shinto practice in Japan, was very strictly adhered to. By the Edo period, freshly caught fish from the ocean was being consumed on a large scale and eventually became the backbone of modern Japanese cuisine. Nowadays, Sashimi is considered a culinary art form, where chefs showcase their skillfulness with the knife and beautiful presentation.
Don’t let the simplicity and lack of rolling in this mainstay of Sushi fool you. Nigiri Sushi is deceptively sophisticated. At its core, it’s just a beautifully sliced piece of fish on rice. Typically, a little amount of wasabi is added between the fish and rice, and in some cases, a small strip of seaweed or nori is used to wrap around the rice and fish. In Japanese, nigiri translates to “two fingers,” which refers to the size of the rice portion.
Hand-pressed Nigiri Sushi originated in the 1820s by Hanaya Yohei (generally considered to be the inventor of today’s Tokyo style nigiri sushi). Yohei moved away from the traditional way of serving sushi that had been developed in the mid-1700s.
Rather than use a fermentation method to prepare sushi for serving, Yohei employed a ‘speed fermentation’ process of adding rice vinegar and salt to freshly cooked rice, letting it sit for a few minutes, forming the rice into a ball and topping with fresh fish caught right by his sushi stall. And because the fish was so fresh, there was no need to ferment or preserve it.
This might sound all too familiar to us on how sushi should be formed and prepared but prior to advances in refrigeration, it just wasn’t possible to conceive the eating of fresh fish on rice!
What you’ll need:
- Roughly 320 g Sushi rice
- 430 ml of water
- 1 tsp salt
- 45 ml of rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 sushi-grade skinless salmon steak, about 450 g
- 1 tsp wasabi
- Soy sauce for sushi and sashimi, to taste
Sushi rice is traditionally held at room temperature. Please remember to adequately acidify the sushi rice with the vinegar + sugar mixture to prevent the growth of bacteria.
- In a large bowl, wash the rice with cold water. Rinse until the water becomes cloudy and drain water. Repeat this process at least 4- 5 times or until the water is clear. Leave the rice in a strainer until thoroughly drained.
- Add the rice, water and salt into a saucepan. Turn on over high heat, and bring to a boil.
- Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been completely absorbed.
- Remove from heat and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
- In a separate saucepan, over medium-low heat, slowly warm the vinegar and sugar until the sugar completely dissolves.
- Spread the cooked rice onto a baking sheet on a tray, or a large flat surface, patting it down/
- Pour the vinegar mixture on top of the rice and combine evenly on each grain of rice.
- Spread out the rice again and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let cool slightly.
Sashimi slicing & Nigiri forming:
Please be aware that the slicing and preparation of raw Salmon for Sashimi and Sushi should be conducted taken seriously.
Always buy raw fish from reliable and hygienic suppliers. Raw ingredients should be fresh, wholesome and of good quality. The quality check should be conducted at the time of receiving.
TIP: Make friends with your fish monger!
Sashimi-grade fish should be stored and handled at around 4 degrees celsius!
Using the Michel Roux Jr Sushi Knife:
- Trim and throw away the discoloured sections of the salmon.
- While holding the knife at 30°, finely slice the fish against the grain to obtain slices 10 cm long.
- Set aside on a cold plate or refrigerate while shaping the rice balls.
- With slightly moistened hands, shape the rice into 6 cm oblong balls using 2 tbsp of rice for each.
- Spread a small amount of wasabi onto each rice ball, to taste, and cover with a salmon slice.
- Serve with the soy sauce and pickled ginger.
TIP for dipping Nigiri in soy sauce:
Hold the sushi between your thumb and middle finger, flip it over so the fish side is facing downward and dip lightly once in the soy sauce.
DO NOT dunk or drown it in the sauce. A quality piece of nigiri sushi does not need a lot of soy sauce.
Michel Roux Jr has been an advocate that everyone should have an interest in cooking. Highlighting that it should be vital for everyone to know the basics even if they aren’t seeking to be a qualified chef. Coming from the illustrious Roux family of chefs, who basically changed the game and influenced a whole generation of chefs after them. So what better tool to have in your arsenal in the kitchen, than from a member of the family that revolutionised UK dining.
“It’s a great feather in one’s hat to be able to rustle up a really tasty meal. Cooking is a great skill that should be showed off and can be quite impressive if you can replicate a restaurant-standard meal.”
According to Michel Roux Jr, “mastering the art of sushi and sashimi” is a must for all those budding cooks and amateur chefs out there, and we couldn’t agree more.
The Michel Roux Jr Sushi Knife symbolises perfectly his view that everyone should at least know the basics in the kitchen and his golden rule that “sharp knives are essential. This knife is special, a flexible blade that is great for filleting fish and preparing sushi.
This Utility Sushi Knife was developed with Michel Roux Jr to ensure that they met the highest standards of a professional knife. Each blade within this collection has been signed by Michel Roux Jr creating a very unique blade for your kitchen.
Razor sharp, great quality knife and made in Japan. What more could you ask for in a blade? In addition to the Global design dotted aesthetics, each blade has been signed by Michel Roux Jr creating a very unique knife for your Kitchen The hollow handles are a unique feature of the Utility Sushi Knife specially selected by Michel Roux Jr.