Two Books on Sushi

The popularity of sushi continues to grow in the western world; we cannot get enough of this Japanese favourite, and while most of us prefer to defer to the master sushi chefs who have spent years or even decades honing their craft, it’s also fun to learn to make sushi yourself.

Sushi Made Simple by Ikeda Atsuko

Sushi Made Simple: From Classic Wraps and Rolls to Modern Bowls and Burgers
Atsuko Ikeda, photography by Yuki Sugiura
Ryland Peters and Small, 2017

As noted above, sushi really isn’t simple and takes years of practice. But Londoners can get a start on their years of practice by taking a course with sushi chef and teacher Atsuko Ikeda. Her classes typically sell out so this book might be a better bet, especially if a trip to the UK isn’t in your budget. Ikeda begins by explaining all of the ingredients, and how to prepare them, from vegetables and the all-important rice to how to properly cut the fish. There’s a graphic outlining all of the different styles of sushi: rolled which are the most common, but also molded, “creative molded” (Christmas tree sushi, anyone?), and deconstructed, which appears to be a nice bowl of rice with fish on top, and which is totally my own sushi-making style.

Ikeda then goes through all of the basic techniques and if you get past the basic nori roll, then try handrolls, sandwich sushi and nigiri. I love the pages of different sauces, all some variation on soy sauce that changes so much just by quantity and basic flavourings. Once into the recipes, Ikeda offers traditional sushi but also things like sushi burgers, a sushi bomb (with a soft-cooked egg inside), and (thankfully for those who are not handy) a selection of recipes for donburi, chirashi, and poke. She gets into a little bit of the highly decorative kazari sushi, but I think she’d just be happy if we learned the basics.

Instructions are clear, the layout makes things easy to follow and measurements are in both US and metric amounts.

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Sushi Art Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Kazari Sushi by Ken Kawasumi

Sushi Art Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Kazari Sushi
Ken Kawasumi
Tuttle Publishing, English translation 2017

Alright, so you’ve mastered the art of sushi-making and you’re ready for something more challenging…Kazari sushi might just be what you need. Or it will make you roll up in a ball and cry hot tears of frustration. (I haven’t looked but I bet there’s a whole huge Pinterest fail section of Kazari sushi, because this stuff looks hard.) Take note that author and award-winning sushi chef Ken Kawasumi offers some notes at the beginning of the book for professional sushi chefs – that should give you an indication of the target audience for this book.

Never mind, this is a collection of absolutely gorgeous and breath-taking edible works of art that it really and truly seems wrong to eat. From pandas and penguins to a garden’s worth of flowers, cherry trees, and oh, yeah, Mount Fuji sushi. Because why not? To his credit, Kawasumi offers really detailed step-by-step instructions for every recipe, as well as details on how to arrange the sushi to tell a story or theme.

There”s also some good instructions on making beautiful basics, battleship rolls (those are the big ones, usually topped with caviar) and creative ways to cut squid.

Recipes are busy with lots of instructions and photos, so may not be the easiest collection to make from home but a truly dedicated person with the time to learn how to make these sushi will have achieved a level of skill that is enviable.

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