What is the secret to Suzuki sushi? This question is one of the many that my uncle would ask as he whipped up a meal during our family gatherings. Seated around the table, we would groan and wonder what the theoretical part of any meal had to do with the result.
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All we wanted to do was eat, and we would exchange a few meaningful glances before darting for the door. Later, we would find our sea bass sushi on the table, ready and tasty as always. Back then, the backstory had no meaning to me, and I would gulp down the food, happy to have escaped another long lecture.
It was not until I decided to surprise my family with more home-cooked meals that I visited my uncle. There he was, as jovial as always, and bursting with energy to let me in on all his secrets. And this time, I took a seat and listened to him explain in detail how I could make a great meal out of sea bass sushi.
What is Sea Bass Sushi?
Sea bass sushi is one of those white fishes that people love to eat during the summer season. Though we can always consume the black sea bream, there seems to be a preference for the sea bass, and due to this reason, we opt to eat the latter. For one, it does not have much fat, which is something that nutritionists all over the world would love to hear. Also, it is tougher when it comes to its flesh. It is for this reason that you will find it offered in thin slices.
We are getting somewhere now, aren’t we?
Sea bass is not all that refreshing as it is and many tricks and tips go into making it the delicacy that I have come to love over the years. The chef, in this case, my uncle, starts by getting rid of some of the fat that is present in the flesh by quickly dipping the fish in hot water mixed with rice wine.
This method goes by the name yubiki, and when you have eaten sea bass that has been through this technique, you will know how good fish can get. From here, the chef dips the fish in ice-cold water, and there is an evident change in the fat content. The fish not only becomes lighter but its flavors also intensify during this process. The result is that of a tasty and soft fish that will have you licking your fingers long after you hand over your dirty plate.
There are many ways in which you can enjoy this food. Traditionally, people would eat it alongside pickled plum as the sour flavors therein would bring out the sweetness. This play of sea bass sushi flavors is what makes this dish so popular.
Japanese Sea Bass – A Delicious and Easy Recipe
I hope that the introduction helped you get a clear idea of what you will be putting in your mouth. Let’s go back to my uncle’s stories when I was a girl. He would ask many questions that would often go unanswered, save for the ones where we retorted with groans.
On this day, I was seated across from him, a recent mother with a need to please her children and husband with the meals she would prepare for hours on end. I knew I needed a change and he was about to let me have it.
‘What is the secret to good sushi?’ he asked, and I could not help but laugh. It turns out that it all came down to the heart and fantastic knife skills. I had both, but I had to sit this one out.
Here’s the thing. You need at least an hour to get this recipe right. For a first-timer, you may want to give yourself some allowance in case anything goes wrong. However, this is not meant to scare you as the technique is pretty straightforward.
For this sea bass sashimi recipe, you will need quite many components:
- Half a kilo of Japanese sushi rice
- 550 ml of water
- 100 ml of rice wine vinegar
- 75g caster sugar
- 15g Maldon salt
- 6 whole Nori leaves
You also need ingredients for the filling. They are:
- Three whole sea bass fillet portions
- Half a cucumber
- 30 grams of white sesame seeds
- 100 ml of soy sauce
- 25 grams of wasabi
- 2 grams of ground turmeric
- 30 ml of rice wine vinegar
- 10 grams of caster sugar
Standing in the kitchen, I could not help but feel nostalgic upon seeing all the ingredients that had once been such an essential part of my Saturday evenings. My uncle chuckled as he went about the preparation which was somewhat more straightforward than I had expected.
How to prepare
You will start by making the seasoning. To do this, you need to place the salt, sugar, and vinegar in a medium saucepan which you will then put on the heat. Allow for the ingredients to come to a boil before lowering the temperature and letting the mixture simmer for a while. It is essential to allow all the ingredients to dissolve as you keep watch over the heat to ensure that it is not too much.
Next, place the rice in a colander and proceed to wash it thoroughly. Having cold running water helps with this stage, and once you feel that the rice is clean and the water coming out is not as whitish as it was before, you can close the tap. Drain any water in the rice and place it in a saucepan. Add the five hundred and fifty milliliters of water and let the rice soak for thirty minutes.
You may not know this but allowing rice to sit in water for half an hour before cooking it will give it time to absorb water. In the end, it cooks at a fast rate, and you won’t have to deal with rice particles clinging to each other at the end of the day.
At this point, the ingredients in the saucepan have simmered to the point that they have dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.
Take the saucepan with the rice and bring the water to boil. Once vigorous boiling commences, reduce the heat to a low and ensure that the water is simmering. Cover the rice with a lid and let it cook for ten minutes without any interruptions. At the end of this period, remove the pan from the heat. Do not uncover the saucepan and instead, let the rice cook in the residual heat for another ten minutes.
Once the rice cools a bit, transfer it to a large bowl. Take the seasoning you made in the first step and pour it over the rice. Next, work on mixing the seasoning into the rice and do this until they combine evenly. At this point, you can cover the rice with a damp cloth to help it cool fast and let it come down to room temperature in preparation for serving.
Remember the sea bass fillets?
Start cutting them into strips (PS: this is where the knife skills come in) until you end up with small pieces. Take the cucumber and do the same thing to it. Combine rice wine vinegar, sugar, and turmeric and add the cucumber strips to this mixture.
Next, take half a sheet of seaweed and place it on a sushi mat. Proceed to spread the rice that is now at room temperature on the seaweed. Add some wasabi to the seaweed. Take the cucumber slices and place them on the wasabi followed by the sea bass slices. Finish up by seasoning the dish with some soy sauce and sprinkle some sesame seeds at the top for that perfect finish.
You will now commence to rolling the sheet by hand as you cut the spread into portions (you will also need your knife skills at this stage.) Ensure that you clean your knife each time that you slice into a portion to make sure that you do not end up tearing into the seaweed and wreaking havoc over an otherwise fantastic meal. And another tip is that you can get more out of the soy sauce if you infuse it with lime juice, garlic, and rice vinegar.
In about an hour, he was ready to serve the delicacy, and I could not help but marvel at his patience and thoughtfulness throughout the entire process. Maybe there was more to learn from this experience than how to make sea bass sushi.
This time around, I took the time to appreciate the flavors as I enquired about other dishes that he made when we were younger. ‘One meal at a time,’ he said as he motioned for me to focus on the food more than the questions. So there you have it, sea bass sushi in an hour thereabout! I hope you loved my story.