Making good sushi at home is not expensive: six sushimen tell us which accessible fish to choose
Let's say nigiri, sashimi, temakis, makis or uramakis ... Japanese cuisine and its versions, among which we could find Nikkei, are full of temptations in which fish and rice are the main protagonists.
Specific whims that we give ourselves away from home because we consider them difficult to do - they require a certain skill, we do not deny it - and expensive. However, today we show that you can choose good, beautiful and cheap fish to enter the world of homemade sushi without having to leave a fortune in the fishmonger.
Obviously, if we go to red tuna from almadraba, red prawn and viceroy, the ticket and our festival will reach higher levels but the price will also skyrocket. On the contrary, today we ask several national sushiman for their favorite fish where the value for money is practically unbeatable.
However, chef Yong Wu Nagahira, from the Ikigai restaurant (Calle de la Flor Baja, 5, Madrid) tells us that "quality should not be confused with price". "The issue is what: at the taste level, is a sardine worse than a bull [bluefin tuna belly]? Well, no, we just think that one thing is better than another, because of the price," he reflects. "The day there are no sardines in the sea, the sardines would skyrocket in price and that would make the sardine become a luxury product," he adds.
The juiciness of the meat and its percentage of fat make oily fish such as sardines, salmon, peas or mackerel especially good for nigiri.
Red tuna -or tuna- and salmon are usually very common fish in sushi bars and both share that character of fatty fish, which makes them especially melting in the mouth and whose texture is very pleasant on the palate. The presence of these essential fatty acids such as omega-3 or omega-6 play in favor of their palatability, but not only our menu has to be a monographic of both.
More humble fish such as sardines, peas, horse mackerel or red mullet can thus form part of our homemade steps when making sushi and not leave the card shivering in the attempt.
Fermín Azkue, executive chef at Salvaje (Velázquez, 96) and two of his creations_ salmon king and otoro nigiri, a cut of bluefin tuna.
As noble as it is affordable, the sardine in season is a fish that, according to markets, rarely exceeds eight euros per kilo, perhaps only on the eve of San Juan and in very unique areas.
"Small blue fish can be considered cheap", says Mario Payán, an itamae from Kappo (Bretón de los Herreros, 38, Madrid), "such as sardines, horse mackerel or chicharro, but they are also fish with a lot of depletion", he says. from its bar, ensuring that the waste for sushi of these can be between 45% and 55% of the product when gutted and headless.
"The sardine works well because it is a fatty fish, manageable and easy to find," he explains. A characteristic claimed by other sushiman like Yong Wu himself, although he also mentions "that the sardine is a lot of work, being a small fish", so its cleaning is very exhaustive.
She is also referred to by Ronald Blanco, sushiman from 99 Sushi Bar, which we now find in Bilbao (Calle Ercilla, 37) preparing one of the group's latest openings, which is in Madrid but also in the capital of Biscay and even in Dubai. "The sardine is a very cheap fish that gives very good results, although it also influences how you cut it," he explains. "The cuts of blue fish should not be as thin as those of white fish because they have more fat and they melt more", he exemplifies.
Nigiri with flambéed salmon and lime and sea urchin gunkan, two of the successes of the 99 Sushi Bar chain.
One of the kings of sushi bars and also of our houses for its versatility and easy availability, as well as for being practically free of thorns. It is true that there are differences between wild and farmed, especially in price and flavor, but it is a fish that we find with solvency.
Ronald Blanco tells us a particularly juicy part of him. "I love the belly salmon, which would be the belly in a tuna ". It is a very transparent, almost white, which has a higher percentage of fat and is a very rich area of salmon for nigiri", illustrates the chef of 99 Sushi Bar.
It is also a fish, due to its meatiness, easy to find in sashimi, that Japanese dish where rice is directly dispensed with and cut fish is served. "It is a thicker cut than the one we use for nigiri", adds Fermín Azkue, executive chef of Salvaje, a restaurant group dedicated to oriental and fusion cuisine present in several countries and that within our borders we find at number 96 of the Velázquez street in Madrid.The cut of the fish for sushi must be clean, not sawing or zigzag, because we break the fibers and the fat becomes more noticeable
"In the end, cutting is a cooking method, since the result of the product depends on it. For example, for a nigiri we use cuts of about five millimeters, while for sashimi they are cuts of one centimeter," he says while clarifying. that "the consistency of oily fish, which holds better when raw, is more acceptable to the palate".
Something that Mario Payán also claims. "Blue fish allows more failure in the cut but, whatever the fish, we must make a clean cut, in one go. There are people who cut fish for sushi as if it were Iberian ham or smoked salmon, making zigzags, and that it is a mistake because that way we break the fish tissues and the fat appears earlier ", he illustrates while defending the correct temperature between white and blue. "Blue fish has to be served a little colder than white fish, just enough so that the fat doesn't start to melt when you're making it," he continues.
Chicharros and horse mackerel
Chef Álvaro Rivera, from Yoko Barbate, with some pieces of the nigiri that he makes in his creative cuisine restaurant with oriental touches.
The common blue fish from the shores of the Strait of Gibraltar also lend themselves very well to raw preparations because they are slightly larger than sardines and well balanced fatty textures.
They are used by the Cádiz chef Álvaro Rivera, who this year opened Yoko, his fusion cuisine restaurant in his native Barbate (Avenida Virgen del Carmen). "They are fish that lend themselves very well to sushi because of that balance and because of the texture they have, as well as being affordable," he illustrates, while mentioning that he also works with mackerel, sardines or anchovies but whenever the season allows it.
"Fish are more expensive in season but because they are at their best," says this chef who has passed through other Japanese laureates such as Kabuki (in Madrid and Malaga) or the Michelin star Enigma, in Barcelona, and who also Note what the ideal proportions are for your nigiri.Although the prices per kilo are adjusted, we must be clear that the loss of fish for nigiri is usually around 50% of the total weight
"60% is fish and the other 40% rice. A good sushi can be seen in the cut of the fish, in its quality and in its size. Rice should not be predominant, nor should it have a very strong seasoning. In Japan you don't see dressings practically, good sushi is the one that is hardly touched, "he adds. That's why he puts the right amount of soy and wasabi in each piece, a practice that Mario Payán also carries out and that has to do with not masking the sushi with dressings.
The Kappo chef also tells us about peas and, above all, about the importance of size. "The yellow pea that I am cutting now we have bought at about 10 euros per kilo but it has a reduction of 55%", he reasons to suggest why it is difficult for good sushi to be cheap.