Sushi Class Week 1 – Basics: Rice, VInegar and Nigiri

Sushi class has finally started!!  The Chef School at George Brown College offers continuing education classes for adults.  They offer a wide variety of courses covering the spectrum of topics that cover cooking, baking, pastry, chocolate making, cheese and even offer wine and tea sommelier certification.

Over the coming weeks, we will document our experience as Chef Frederick Oh leads a class of eight students in the art of sushi making in HOSF 9075 Sushi.

Week 1: Sushi Rice and Nigiri

The first class concentrated on the most fundamental part of sushi: vinegar rice.  Sushi actually refers to the vinegar rice and not rice with raw fish as we think in North America.  Who knew?

Sushi Vinegar:

The recipe for basic sushi vinegar is quite straightforward.  Rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt are mixed together in a 10:8:1 ratio.  The mixture is heated until the sugar is dissolved.  (Do NOT boil, just heat a little.)  Add a piece of kombu and leave to infuse.  The kombu should give the vinegar a hint of the taste of the sea so don’t leave it infuse for hours.

You can adjust the vinegar mixture based on your taste.  Want it sweeter?  Add more sugar.  More zippy?  Add vinegar.  You can add other flavour components to create your own unique version.  Maybe a little mirin, ginger pickling liquid, sake…

Sushi Rice:

For sushi rice, short grain glutinous rice is rinsed thoroughly with water for several minutes (until the water runs clear).   Water is added to the rice (1:1 v/v ratio) and brought to a boil.  The rice is then covered and cooked on low for 15 – 20 mins.  The heat is turned off and the pot is left with the lid on for another 15 – 20 minutes.


Adding Vinegar to Sushi Rice

Mixing it Together:

The rice is turned into a large shallow (non-metal) bowl to help it cool.  A Japanese hangiri is the traditional wooden vessel used for mixing sushi rice.

Care must be taken not to damage the rice kernels as they are spread out in the bowl.  The seasoned vinegar is then gently mixed with the rice in a cutting motion very similar to folding.  Add the vinegar bit by bit until the rice tastes good to you.  The more you add, the more flavour you get.  However, if you add too much, the rice will get too wet and not stick together well.

Slamon Fillet 1  Salmon Ready to Go Perfect Nigiri Rice Size


Nigiri is a slice of raw fish laid over a rectangular piece of sushi rice.  Forming the rice base is a lot harder than it looks.  The rice in sushi should hold together as you hold it in your chopsticks but immediately break apart in your mouth.  It is a delicate balance trying to get the right shape while creating the proper rice density and not compressing it into a doughy mass as it sticks to your hands.  Once you have the perfect form, you wipe a little wasabi along the slice of fish and mold them together.

Nigiri and Leaf Wasabi Sushi Final Side

The finished product.  Made for a nice snack after class!!

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