Once you've got a grasp on things and have gotten used to the basics, you should consider a few advanced types of sushi. I haven't quite mastered a few of them myself, so bear with me and take what I'm teaching as example. But first, I think it's time you learn to make your own gari and a few words on presentation.
The gari you find at most sushi bars and grocery stores is perfectly fine, but it's been colored and contains a lot more ingredients in it than are necessary. More natural gari may have a dull pink color to it, but it won't be the unnaturally red color you find in prepared packaged products. Gari is easy to make at home, and everyone that likes it should try making it.
- 6 ounces of fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons sake
- 4 teaspoons sugar
Cut and grate your ginger. Bring a saucepan with a few cups of water to a boil, and boil your pieces of ginger for a minute or two. Remove it from the boiling water and let it cool. While it's cooling, combine your other ingredients and bring them to a boil. While they're coming to a boil, slice your ginger as thinly as possible. Put your thin slices of ginger in a clean jar with a lid on it. Pour your liquid over the ginger slices, let it cool, then allow the ginger to pickle in your refrigerator for a few days. Your gari should last a month if refrigerated.
Wasabi isn't just a condiment, it's also decorative. Rather than presenting your guests with a nondescript blob of green, try making a leaf, a flower, or a small pyramid out of it. The easiest way to make a leaf is to mould the general shape with your fingers, then press a knife slightly into it to make the lines. It's easier to press the knife in rather than running the tip along the wasabi, because the wasabi tends to break apart. It doesn't take much effort to make your wasabi look great. Don't overdo it on the wasabi, however, as it tends to numb the taste buds if used too much.
Sushi is really about presentation. It's food art. The best sushi chefs will prepare something in such a way that you'll feel guilty even touching it, let alone eating it. If you're serious about serving sushi at home, I'd suggest you purchase some sushi plates. It's a small investment but it adds an immense amount of visual appeal to your sushi. I purchase my dishes at Uwajimaya, a local asian market. Here are a few pictures showing how I'll arrange my sushi.
From top to bottom, left to right, soy and wasabi, tea, mackerel and unagi nigri, tamago nigri, tuna sashimi, tamago shikai-maki and tuna hoso-maki
From top to bottom, left to right, spicy tuna with baby daikon sprouts maki-sushi, spicy tuna with baby daikon sprouts inside-out rolls, kiwi shikai-maki, masago gunkan sushi, soy and wasabi.
From top to bottom, left to right, sake, wasabi and soy, shredded carrot and salmon shikai-maki and maki-sushi, salmon hand rolls, and salmon sashimi
From top to bottom, left to right, sake, tuna maki-sushi with red leaf lettuce, inside-out tuna maki with red leaf lettuce and masago on the outside, tuna sashimi, soy and ginger, and masago gunkan.