Sushi has a long history, dating back hundreds of years to Southeast Asia. What began as a way to preserve fish has been transformed into a true work of art that is as beautiful to the eye as it is to the palate. No one around this area knows sushi better than Chef Nobu Terauchi, owner of Fuji restaurants in Tulsa.
Terauchi came to the United States from his native Japan 35 years ago. In 1986, he opened his first Fuji location at 71st and Memorial. In August 2005, he opened a second location on Brookside.
A most gracious host, Terauchi recently shared sushi as well as his vast knowledge of it.
According to Terauchi, the first sushi consisted of only fermented rice, vinegar and fish. Since there was no refrigeration, layers of the rice and fish were stacked together. It wasn’t until later that someone discovered that this accompanying rice was also delicious.
A new style of sushi was created in the early 1800s by a young Japanese chef named Yohei Hanaya. This new type of sushi, known as nigiri, (sliced fish on top of a rice ball) was the beginning of the variety of sushi that is popular today.
The creation of the California roll in 1970s Los Angeles ushered in another new era with the introduction of fusion sushi, which incorporated traditional techniques with ingredients more familiar to Americans.
Terauchi says that anyone can make sushi at home, but it can take years to develop the skills needed to master it.
To that end, Terauchi does offer a monthly cooking class at Fuji’s 71st Street location, as well as occasional classes at The Stock Pot in Tulsa.
However, once the basics and techniques have been mastered, there are a few important steps to making wonderful sushi.
The most important component of good sushi is the rice, not the fish. A special kind of medium grain rice from California, called nishiki, is the type of rice used for making sushi.
The next most important element of good sushi is selecting the fish. Besides using the freshest, sashimi-grade fish, Terauchi offers this suggestion for choosing good quality fish.
“If it has a fishy smell or cloudy eyes, do not use it,” says the chef.
Other than that, simply using good, quality ingredients, like soy sauce and nori, will produce the best results.
Making sushi requires just a few pieces of equipment, including a bamboo mat to roll the sushi, a sharp knife, your hands and, of course, a little patience.
This recipe is based on using a rice cooker.
4 c. uncooked nishiki rice
4 c. hot water
1/2 c. seasoned rice vinegar
1 piece konbu (a kind of seaweed)
Rinse and drain rice in a bowl with cold water three times. When done, strain and let stand for 15 minutes. Transfer the rice to a rice cooker; add konbu and four cups of hot water. Push start. After the rice is cooked, wait 15 minutes, then place rice in a large bowl. Remove the konbu and gently stir in rice vinegar with a spoon until combined. Use a fan to cool the rice as you stir. Do not smash the rice grains. Once combined, wait about 20 minutes for rice to cool. A little warmer than room temperature is best for rolling sushi.