10 Best Sushi Making Kits | April 2017
- molds have grooves for easy cutting
- makes cumbersomely large pieces
- not authentic nor traditional
|Brand||Kitchen + Home|
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- rice paddle has a comfortable grip
- simple to store in a drawer
- chopsticks are thin and hard to use
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- creates standard size maki
- includes 2 traditional sauce plates
- rice tends to stick to the mat
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- round square and triangular molds
- includes links to tutorial videos
- sufficient instructions not provided
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- traction sheet is replaceable
- hygienic and safe food-grade plastic
- instructions are hard to follow
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- made of durable plastic
- quick and efficient
- rice slides out smoothly
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- includes step-by-step instructions
- dishwasher safe for easy maintenance
- cutter slices smoothly
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- great for beginners or experts
- available in two colors
- safe and easy for children to use
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
- cuts even slices safely
- end caps double as soy sauce holders
- mat snaps apart for easy cleaning
|Model||Patented - U.S. Pat. No|
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
- packaging doubles as a storage pouch
- simply and elegantly designed
- chemical and varnish-free
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
Rolling With My Homies
For some reason, the prospect of making one's own sushi intimidates a lot of otherwise very capable and confident chefs. I, too, was a little put off by the task when it was first suggested to me. Considering the fact that a simple vegetable roll will run you upwards of $5 anywhere you get it, however, I figured I didn't have that much to lose.
The such making sets on our list seek specifically to remove all the mystery and difficulty from the sushi making process, though there are two distinct ways that they go about it. Essentially, you have traditional rolling kits, and you have what one might call sushi molds.
The rolling kits are slotted bamboo mats that roll up on themselves into neat cylinders. If you lay one out with nori (seaweed), rice, and any fillings you desire, you can roll the mat up with the sushi materials inside. When you unroll the mat, the sushi roll remains in a lovely log form.
The molds work by gently using pressure to force the rice and fillings into a piece of nori placed in the bottom of the mold. They are the easier device to use, by far, but they don't give you the same kind of cultural thrill that the traditional sets offer.
A few of these kits also come with recipe books and guides, as well as mixing bowls for your sushi rice and little slotted serving dishes that also work as cutting platforms to give you an evenly sliced roll.
Rice To The Finish
A lot goes into the preparation of sushi. Most people will tell you that the actual rolling technique is the hardest part, but if you spend an hour at the counter of a busy sushi restaurant, you ought to be able to watch the guys at work and pick up enough specifics to fair just fine on your own.
What most people don't realize going into their first sushi assembly is that the rice is probably the most important aspect of your roll, after the quality of the fish, of course. Sushi rice is a very specific grain prepared in a very specific way, and all the fresh fish and rolling techniques in the world can't save you from bad sushi rice.
Good sushi rice isn't just cooked sushi rice; it also requires seasoning. Traditionally, you should season your sushi rice with a balance of rice wine vinegar and sugar, with a pinch or two of salt to make it pop. That balance is pretty specific to each chef, but, in my humble opinion, I've always leaned a little more heavily on the vinegar than the sugar. Not only does this create a slightly healthier role, I think the vinegar does a better job of highlighting the flavor of the fish.
As we mentioned above, the big divide among these sets is the difference between the more traditional rolling mats and the easier, less aesthetically appealing molds. With a good rice recipe, either set will make you absolutely delicious sushi. If you're impatient to get eating, I'd say go with the molds. If you really want to learn the art, I'd say get the mats. If you're a sushi fanatic who wants to learn the art, but also wants to eat sushi all day every day, I'd say grab one of each.
Out Of Isolation
While sushi is most closely associated with the island nation of Japan, its development reaches back a few hundred years before the dish hit Japanese shores. Originally, inhabitants of Southeast Asia wrapped fish in fermented rice as a way of preserving it. It's not unlike the western practice of salting beef, but it has the distinct advantage of being ridiculously delicious.
The technique came to Japan in the 8th century. Later, during the Edo period, Japan's economy prospered immensely, and fermentation of fish for long periods of storage, especially in the cities, became less of a necessity. As a result, city-dwellers still ate fish conveniently wrapped in rice, but done so freshly and not by way of any fermentation.
During this time in Japanese history, however, the country was still fiercely isolationist, and it wasn't until the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration in 1868 that Japan opened her shores to more western commerce than just the occasional Dutch merchant.
It took a few decades, but the restoration period sent scores of Japanese immigrants to American shores, and they took their sushi-making prowess with them. At the same time, Japanese food, decor, and even some custom gained popularity among the American elites, and we can find an early reference to sushi served at a social function from 1904 in the Los Angeles Herald.
Soon, however, anti-Japanese sentiments cropped up among nativists, and they prospered enough to manifest heavy restrictions on Japanese immigration. Then, there's that chapter in American history that is only quietly talked about in high school history curricula for one or two days in each student's life, when, during the second world war, the US interned over 100,000 Japanese-Americans, the majority of them American citizens.
After that, there was an understandable lull in the production and popularity of sushi, which, thankfully, has given way to a second, seemingly unstoppable wave of enthusiasm over the dish.