Nick Sakagami, the only person outside of Japan to earn the designation osakana meister, introduces the fundamentals of sushi, starting with the fish.
Photography from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market offers an inside look at where most of our tuna comes from, and a deep dive into the tools, techniques, and etiquette of sushi ensure you’ll never look at a California roll the same way again.
Expert recipes from Sakagami’s favourite international sushi chefs and clients include variations of:
- Onigiri (rice balls)
Sushi Master also includes recipes for traditional Japanese soups, including two different types of miso, plus appetizers like tsukemono (Japanese pickles), shishito pepper, and spicy scallop carpaccio. Once you’ve mastered the staples, you can move on to advanced techniques, such as searing, marinating, ageing, and adding garnishes.
This comprehensive guide also includes tips on sourcing your ingredients and best practices for sustainability. Sushi Master is your definitive guide to mastering the art of sushi.
Ahi Poke Bowl
Serves 3 or 4
Poke has become enormously popular in the last five years, so most people know what a poke bowl is: a base—typically rice—cubed raw sashimi-grade fish (typically salmon, tuna, albacore tuna, or hamachi), and Asian toppings such as seaweed and furikake sprinkles. In Hawaii, some stores offer 72 types of pokes, including squid, shrimp, scallops, and swordfish. We will make a basic ahi poke here.
You can find Chef Davin Waite’s Master Variation of the dish as shown in the photo in its accompanying box. Ahi means “tuna” in the Hawaiian language, so ahi tuna steak on a menu literally means “tuna tunasteak,” which sounds funny to me.
2 tablespoons (30 ml) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) mirin
1 teaspoon (2.7 g) grated peeled fresh ginger (shoga)
1 teaspoon (2.7 g) white or black sesame seeds, toasted
¼ onion, thinly sliced
¼ (2½-ounce, or 70 g) package kaiware (daikon radish) sprouts
7 ounces (200 g) sashimi-grade tuna loin, cut into 2/3-inch (1.5 cm) cubes
½ avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 2/3-inch (1.5 cm) cubes
2½ to 3 cups (500 to 600 g) Steamed Japanese-Style Rice (page 71)
Pinch kizami nori (shredded nori)
- To make the sauce: In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, ginger, and sesame seeds. Measure 1 tablespoon (15 ml) and set aside.
- To make the bowl: Rinse the onion with water to soften its bitterness. Drain well. Cut off the roots of the radish sprouts and cut the sprouts about ¾ inch (2 cm) long.
- To the sauce, add the tuna, avocado, and onion and gently stir to combine.
- Using a shamoji (rice scoop), spoon the rice into serving bowls. Top the rice with the tuna mixture and sauce. Sprinkle the kizami nori on top. Pour the reserved 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of sauce over the seaweed and garnish with the radish sprouts for crunch.
Note: Unfortunately, most poke bowls I’ve tried in the mainland United States weren’t as good as those in Hawaii. Why? Because they use carbon monoxide–treated tuna in the mainland, whereas Hawaiians use only freshly caught tuna. Carbon monoxide is injected with tiny needles to turn the tuna flesh from a brown colour to bright red. Once injected, the tuna flesh remains artificially pinkish-red and/or fluorescent red for 2 weeks after it is thawed, making it extremely hard to tell how old the tuna is. Consumers have become seriously ill in Japan, Canada, and Europe, so CO-treated tuna is banned in those countries. Here, I ask you to source “non-artificially coloured” tuna. These natural fish might not be perfectly red, but if sourced from a place I recommend (see page 163), you are in good hands in terms of quality and responsible harvesting.
Chef Davin Waite | Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub |
San Diego, CA
Instead of using kaiware sprouts and avocado, Chef Davin topped this Ahi Poke Bowl with ogo nori, pickled carrot, and heirloom purple carrots, which taste just like a carrot but with a touch of beet flavour.
Steamed Japanese-Style Rice
Makes 4 cups (800 g)
When the U.S. government started enriching white rice with B vitamins and other nutrients, consumers were advised not to wash the rice because it would rinse away the nutrients. But the washing and rinsing steps are critical to producing properly cooked Japanese-style rice. You may find your rice comes out better if you perform step 1 as written here. But the choice is totally up to you.
- Place a large bowl in the sink and pour the rice into it. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the rice generously. With your hand, swish the rice around until the water becomes cloudy. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh sieve. Repeat this step three or four times more until the water being poured off is almost clear. Drain well.
- Transfer the rice to a rice cooker or a medium saucepan. Add the water and cover the pan. Turn on the rice cooker, or bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice cook until the water has been absorbed, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes.
Note: If using brown rice, use an additional ½ cup (120 ml) of water to cook and allow 20 minutes total for cooking time.
Recipe reprinted with permission from The Quarto Group.