Take a seat at maze restaurant’s sushi counter and you can’t fail to be entranced by the dextrous fingers of our expert sushi chefs as they shape dainty nigiri rice mounds to be topped with super-fresh kingfish, tuna and lightly seared salmon.
It’s quickly apparent why it takes over ten years to become an expert sushi chef. In the West we have a tendency to attribute this long training to Japanese perfectionism, though it takes at least that long to become an expert chef in any cuisine!
More and more of us are keen to make sushi at home, however, so we've asked our chefs to reveal their top tips for achieving pro results with amateur skills.
maze sushi tips
* Buy short or medium grain sushi rice and use an electric rice cooker to cook it. Electric rice cookers are so cheap, reliable and useful that they really do earn their kitchen space.
* Buy pre-made sushi vinegar mixtures for home use, as they make things easier. But if you’re making from scratch, be sure to add kombu to the sushi vinegar mixture to give it umami.
* When using sushi moulds don’t press the rice in too firmly. As with everything, it needs some practice to get a professional result, and nigiri is where practice is particularly important.
* When using a bamboo sushi rolling mat for inside-out rolls, cover it in cling film so that the rice does not stick to it.
* Don’t squeeze too hard when rolling sushi rolls – you want to keep the juices and flavour in. Consider putting prime ingredients such as crab on top of the rolls rather than inside them, as we do for maze’s popular California rolls.
* Use a very sharp knife to slice fish and cut rolls. Yanagiba is the one used in sushi restaurants.
* Source fish from a good supplier. You might even ask your local Japanese restaurant if they can sell you some sushi-grade fish to use at home.
* London’s Japan Centre is a good place to go buy all ingredients related to sushi, fish included. It has an online shop too.
* Try pimping the soy sauce with bonito flakes, sake, kombu and mirin for extra layers of flavour. To make maze's tosa soya, bring 100ml sake and 100ml mirin to the boil with a small piece of kombu. Once the alcohol fumes have gone, add 500ml soy sauce and heat through again without boiling (otherwise it will be too salty). Add a couple of tablespoons of bonito flakes and leave to infuse for up to three days before using.
* There are plenty of good tutorials on how to make sushi on YouTube. Don’t hesitate to check them out.