Japanese food is known as the best in the world! It’s rich, flavorful and delicious. However, it can be a little intimidating to learn how to cook it. That’s why we’ve put together some of the most essential tips for beginners.
Here are 10 essential Japanese cooking tips that will help you become a master at your kitchen izakaya menu.
1. Use fresh ingredients
If you want to make authentic Japanese dishes, then you should always use fresh ingredients. Fresh vegetables are great because they taste better than their frozen or canned counterparts. If you can find them, buy organic produce whenever possible. This way, you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals.
Another good thing about buying fresh produce is that they’re easier to peel off. Frozen ones tend to stick to each other, making it difficult to get at all of the layers. You also need to be careful not to overcook your vegetables because this can affect their texture and flavor. So if you’re going to peel your veggies, do so right after you purchase them. Then, cut them into smaller pieces to ensure even cooking.
You should also avoid using pre-packaged sauces. These usually contain artificial flavors, which aren’t good for your body. Instead, try making your own sauce by combining soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, water, sake, mirin and/or miso paste with your favorite spices.
2. Learn to read sushi charts
Sushi is an important part of Japanese cuisine. Not only does it provide variety to the diet, but it also gives people something to look forward to on the weekends. This is where learning to read sushi charts comes in handy.
There are three different types of sushi charts: the ‘raw’ chart, the ‘hot’ chart and the ‘cold’ chart. The first one shows what kind of raw fish you can choose from, while the second one shows what kind of cooked fish you can pick from. On the cold chart, you will see what type of rice you can eat along with any side dishes.
If you’re new to cooking, you might be confused about which rice to choose. Don’t worry! Just follow the chart to your liking. The best option here is probably short-grain brown rice since this has less starch. Another option is sticky rice, although it isn’t recommended during pregnancy.
If you’re having trouble deciding between hot and cold, then just go with whatever looks the freshest. If you’re unsure about what kind of fish you should get, ask your sushi chef. They will know exactly which kinds are in season and what else you can add to your meal.
How to make sushi (with pictures)
Now that you’ve learned how to read sushi charts, let’s take a step further and learn how to make sushi. You will need:
- A bamboo mat
- Unbleached white paper
- Two knives
- One sheet of nori seaweed
- A cutting board
- A small bowl
- Soy sauce
- Lemon juice
- Vegetable oil
- Red bell pepper
- Garlic clove
- Short-grain brown rice (optional)
- Rice vinegar
- Miso paste (optional)
- Hot water
- White radish
Step 1: Prepare your ingredients. First, peel your cucumber and red bell pepper. Then, slice your avocado. Wash your hands and pat them dry. Cut up the garlic clove.
Step 2: Lay out your nori sheet. Next, spread vegetable oil onto your cutting board and set aside.
Step 3: Put your bamboo mat on top of your cutting board. Place your knife on the left side of your mat. Then, place your hand underneath the mat to steady yourself.
Step 4: Pick up the bottom edge of your mat with both hands and gently hold it down to your cutting board. Now, start rolling the mat back and forth until you’ve wrapped it around the whole cutting board.
Step 5: Take care when lifting your mat. If you accidentally drop it, you risk ruining your work. Keep that in mind.
Step 6: Gently hold the sides of your mat and slowly lift them up. This is called “furikomi” (押り).
Step 7: Carefully flip the mat over. Lay your bamboo mat on your cutting board.
Step 8: Spread vegetable oil on your mat again and set it aside.
Step 9: Place your mat in front of you. Pick up the right edge of your mat and fold it towards the center. Do the same with the lower edge.
Step 10: Lift up your mat and turn it over. Repeat steps 8 through 10 on the other side.
Step 11: Spread vegetable oil on your mat once more and set it aside.
Step 12: Pick up the right edge of your mat and fold it towards the center. Repeat the same with the upper edge.
Step 13: Now, place your mat on top of your cutting board.
Step 14: Pick up the right edge of your mat and fold it towards the center. Fold the left edge towards the center as well.
Step 15: Turn your mat over. Repeat steps 13 through 15 on the other side.
Step 16: Spread vegetable oil on your mat one last time and set it aside.
Step 17: Lay your mat on top of your cutting board. Pick up the left edge of your mat and fold it towards the center. Repeat the same with your right edge.
Step 18: Turn your mat over. Repeat steps 17 through 18 on the other side.
Step 19: Pick up the left edge of your mat and fold it towards the center. Repeat the same with the upper edge.
Step 20: Fold your mat in half.
Step 21: Fold your mat into quarters.
Step 22: Set your mat on your cutting board. Now, you’re ready to roll the sushi.
Step 23: Roll your sushi as tightly as possible.
When done, cut your sushi into six equal portions.
Step 24: Repeat steps 23 and 24 with your other ingredients. Serve your sushi immediately.