Basic sushi equipment is fairly easy to find. Sushi chefs and dedicated aficionados will usually use knives sharpened only on one side. They are capable of cutting much thinner and more cleanly than western knives that are sharpened on both sides. They're not necessary for what I'd call "kitchen sushi", so I won't go into detailed information about them.
necessary equipment includes
- a tub or large dish to cool rice
- a spatula to turn and spread rice while cooling
- a fan to cool rice>
- bowls for ingredients
- cutting board
- sushi rolling mat
optional equipment includes
- sushi knives
- geta (wooden sushi trays)
- sushi serving dishes
- condiment dishes
- japanese omelet pan or square cast iron skillet
Sushi ingredients are so varied that it would be nearly impossible to catalog all of them in one place. For simplicity's sake I'm only going to list the ingredients normally used to make sushi in one's own kitchen. I'm lucky to have a wonderful asian market nearby. If you live in the Portland or Seattle area, check out Uwajimaya, it's hands-down the best resource to find what you want. Click on the link for their web site.
- Rice for sushi has to be glutinous (sticky) and should be short or medium grain. Most Japanese style rice available at grocery stores will suffice. I've been using Nishiki lately and I like it quite a bit. You can use brown rice, but it takes a bit of practice because it's not nearly as sticky as white rice.
- Use a rice vinegar. If you can't find rice vinegar you're not looking very hard. If you must, you can substitute white vinegar for rice vinegar.
- Dipping condiment.
- Wasabi found in most stores contains little or no real wasabi. It's usually mustard with green food coloring added. If you can find it, opt for real wasabi. It can be found in better asian food stores and online.
- Pickled ginger, it's used to clean the pallet between bites of sushi. Can be found in most asian markets and many grocery stores. Gari made in your own kitchen will be more authentic, and I'll tell you how to do it in the advanced sushi technique section
- Seaweed is used extensively in Japanese cooking and is used in most types of sushi. Make sure you buy enough of it, it's cheap and you'll make mistakes at first.
- Fish is the main showcase ingredient in most sushi. Make sure if you're using raw fish that you select a good grade of fish. Ask the person at the counter where you buy your fish if he has any sushi or sashimi grade fish. He won't fib, he doesn't want to be liable if he sells you bad fish. Some places have fish pre-cut for you, some places make you cut it yourself. I would suggest for your first few times making sushi you stick to tuna fish in a can. You can make a simple tuna salad from it which is useful for both maki and gunkan style sushi, and if you ruin it, you're not out much financially.
Later, once you are more accustomed to making sushi, you might want to try with salmon and tuna. Where I buy my fish I have the ability to purchase pre-sliced fish which is great for nigri, such as tuna, salmon, freshwater eel, and mackerel.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Most any sort of vegetables you want are acceptable in sushi. I often use avocado, baby daikon sprouts, cucumbers, and carrots in maki sushi. Leaf lettuce in a roll gives a nice ruffled appearance as it peeks out of the end pieces. For vegetarian nigri, you can use steamed asparagus or other stalky vegetables.
- Fruits can also be used in sushi. For a slightly sweet dessert, try making apple or kiwi sushi. Fibrous fruits lend themselves well to sushi, but more juicy fruits like citrus should be used by itself at the end of a meal for dessert.
Miscellaneous items used in sushi include eggs for omelet and fish eggs such as tobiko or masago, sugar and salt in preparing sushi rice, sesame seeds for the outsides of inside-out rolls or to add crunch to the inside of a regular roll, cooked chicken, cooked shrimp, imitation crab, cream cheese, etc. Just about anything you can fit inside a roll will work, even if purists stick their noses up at it.