Can You Reheat Maki (And Other Sushi Types)?

It is often unavoidable that you need to place your sushi in the chiller or even freezer, but you need to be careful about preparing it if you want to preserve its quality afterward.

Is it wise to reheat sushi? No, if you like to eat sushi that is actually edible, you never want to put sushi through heat sources of any kind. This goes doubly true if the sushi has already been assembled and is ready to eat. What you want to do, instead, is to slowly thaw it so that it can still preserve its freshness.

With that said, even thawing the sushi that you froze or letting it warm up after putting it in the chiller can be a delicate process, and a lot can go wrong just as they can go right.

Preparing Cold Sushi Properly

Sushi comes in many different forms and their storage will affect just how much you can enjoy eating them. For some context into this matter, you can take a look at the table below for some of the ways in which sushi is prepared, stored, and maintained:

Sushi TypePreparationStorage
Convenience Store SushiPre-packed in bulkPlaced in chillers
Pre-prepared SushiPrepared via kiosks or live counters, and displayed on a bed of icePlaced in chillers
Restaurant SushiPrepared in kitchensPlaced in chillers or freezers
Specialty SushiPrepared live with special skills and ingredientsNever stored

The items on that table only refer to general circumstances and don’t really apply to every single establishment or maker of sushi. In fact, there are many places that use entirely different methods of storing their food and ingredients.

For more common circumstances, however, the table above should provide a relatively good picture of what you can expect. That is to say when it comes to sushi and its ingredients, the type of storage or preservation methods can come in the form of:

·         Chilling

·         Freezing

·         Drying

·         Smoking

In the case of chilled sushi, there is actually nothing wrong with eating it as is. You can basically take it out of the refrigerator or the display chiller of convenience stores and just go to town. However, this will not provide you with the best experience.

Sushi is always best consumed at room temperature, where the ingredients can offer their best qualities. When you eat sushi while still cold, this can be quite harsh on the tongue and the flavors can become muted. This will then prevent you from fully appreciating the dish.

To fix this problem, you can just place the sushi on a countertop away from direct sunlight or heat of any kind. After about 15 to 30 minutes, you should have sushi that you can enjoy. On that note, frozen sushi can be more complicated to deal with.

This will require you to place the sushi in the refrigerator about eight hours ahead of time. From there, you will then need to follow the same procedure as the chilled sushi. However, this process will require you to control the temperature of the chiller as accurately as possible.

This means keeping the chiller at around 4C and making sure that the room where you are placing the sushi is at about 27C to 35C. Remember that sushi does not like heat and the same goes for hot rooms.

Why Never to Reheat Sushi

If you want to understand why you must never reheat, or for that matter, heat sushi that is already made, you need to first understand exactly how sushi is made. To start with, sushi is typically done with the combination of any of the following components in mind:

·         Cooked rice

·         Nori

·         Filling

·         Raw fish

·         Cooked items

·         Raw fruits

·         Raw vegetables

·         Sesame seeds

·         Sushi caviar

·         Condiments

With this list alone, you can already see that sushi itself is made of several different components ranging from cooked to raw, and wet to dry. If you put all of these together on the spot and eat them, they won’t really be much of an issue. However, when you try to heat them up, a few things could happen:

·         Cooked items get overcooked

·         Fresh items get half-cooked

·         Wet items become dry

·         Nori shrivels up and becomes soggy

·         Condiments get watery or dry

·         Caviar is ruined

None of those scenarios are ideal for when you are eating sushi. As a matter of fact, whenever possible, you should only consume sushi that is fresh. If you are going to experience a temperature change with your sushi, it would be more favorable if the dish gets cold rather than hot.

Basically, if the sushi you are eating is reheated, you are looking at a potentially soggy, chewy, and altogether unpleasant mess that you are not going to want to eat. It will resemble dog food more than anything else, depending on the kind of heating method that you use.

As to what these heating methods even are, we can consider the most obvious options like a microwave oven, an oven toaster, an actual oven, a heating cabinet, or even a salamander. Regardless of which choice is available to you, none of them are acceptable with regards to the treatment of sushi.

All you need in order to prepare sushi that has been chilled or frozen is a refrigerator and a countertop in a room with a decent temperature. No heat is allowed.

Acceptable Sushi Parts to Heat

With regards to heating, it was already mentioned that sushi which has already been combined and made should not come in contact with raised temperatures. However, this does not mean that no parts of the sushi have ever come in contact with heat. For example, the following ingredients for sushi are basically the only acceptable parts that should be heated:

·         Rice

·         Cooked fillings

·         Cooked toppings

·         Condiments

In the case of the rice, it’s obvious that it would need to come in contact with heat if it is going to be cooked. It’s just that when it is served, it should be either at room temperature or it should be just a bit warm. The same goes for fillings and toppings that have already undergone cooking procedures.

For example, there are fishes, meats, and vegetables that went through different kinds of preserving methods. These include pickling, smoking, and salting. When they are used to prepare the fillings and toppings of sushi, they are often cooked again so that they can be flavored and presented properly.

Just as is the case with the rice, though, these filling or toppings will need to be at room temperature or just a bit warm before they are introduced to the rest of the fresh ingredients. An important point that needs to be made is that none of them are going to cause the formed sushi to get steamy. If they do, the sushi is going to be soggy.

What’s more, if you serve hot ingredients in sushi to be eaten right away, it is going to overwhelm all the other flavors of the dish. Sushi is quite a delicate type of food, which requires perfect balance in all of the ingredients used. It’s only natural that the hot ingredient is going to stand out the most.

Related Questions

Can You Eat Leftover Cooked Sushi?

If the sushi was cooked and it was supposed to be made of the same ingredients as fresh sushi, it never should have been made in the first place. However, if the question is whether or not you can eat sushi that was made and became leftovers, you should not if it wasn’t put in the chiller.

Can I Eat Two-Day Old Sushi?

It depends on whether the sushi was placed in the fridge or not. If it was and the storage was done properly, there should be no issues with regards to actually eating it. However, if it has been sitting on the counter for all that time, then the answer is no.

Can Sushi Be Cooked?

With all this talk of sushi needing to be fresh, you might get the idea that all types of sushi should be fresh, and you would be right. That is to say, all types of traditional sushi. However, there are certain types of sushi that are called sushi only for the sake of branding. They are not, in fact, sushi at all.

For example, there are so-called sushi dumplings that some Chinese kiosks are offering, which are basically nothing more than tuna dumplings wrapped with nori. These are often steamed or fried and are served the way regular dumplings would be.

Make no mistake, though. Those kinds of sushi are not real sushi and they are not served with the same level of elegance as regular sushi.

There is also sushi that is made by placing cooked products like spam on top of rice and then is wrapped in placed by a thick strip of nori. This is where things can get a bit murky since, while it is still technically sushi, it isn’t really the same was what most sushi enthusiasts would likely be aware of.

Alternative Forms of Sushi

Speaking of sushi that many people might not be aware of, there is also sushi that is being claimed as sushi but is not sushi because they don’t contain any ingredients of sushi at all. For example, there is sushi that is made of candy, but that’s a pretty obvious case.

For more complicated examples, there is sushi that is made of non-sushi ingredients but look like sushi. There are even fast food items that are being marketed as sushi but are made of deep-fried, heavily processed, and overly salty ingredients.

Then there is the matter of sashimi, oysters, and uni. In the case of sashimi, you are looking at the raw meat of basically any type of fish, both in saltwater and freshwater. Fresh oysters are also exactly that, which are oysters that are consumed fresh. Finally, there’s uni, which is the meat of fresh sea urchin.

These are often considered part of the sushi line, but this is not exactly the case. In order for something to be called sushi, it would need to have vinegar rice. 

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