Sushi making kits are meant to help you enjoy the sushi experience at home, but they are not always the easiest products to work with if you don’t have much experience with cooking and food.
How do you properly use a sushi-making kit? You can start by knowing how to cook so that you can effectively follow the steps from the kit. You should then examine every single item that came with the kit and see what’s missing. After that, you can just follow the steps given or improvise, as you see fit.
Depending on how they are used, sushi kits can either be an asset or a huge waste of time, so you need to make sure that you have all the right information beforehand.
What are Sushi Making Kits?
For those who may not know, sushi making kits are basically products that are packaged and sold as a means of making sushi at home like they would any processed food. It’s basically like how home cooks are supposed to be able to make mac n’ cheese or ice cream, on their own.
However, just as is the case with other kits for other types of food, there are major differences that can come with sushi making kits. This applies to different brands of the product and in comparison to other ways of preparing sushi. Just to give you some ideas as to what you can expect when getting a sushi-making kit, here is a comparison table for you:
|Sushi Making Kit||Homemade Sushi||High-Class Sushi|
|Ingredients||Preserved, processed||Market quality||Specially ordered, high-quality goods|
|Taste||Poor to adequate||Depends on cook skills and ingredient quality||Fresh and Excellent|
|Appearance||Depends on skill level||Depends on skill level||Excellent|
|Quality||Low||Depends on ingredients purchased||High|
|Price||Cheap||Depends on ingredients purchased||Expensive|
Generally speaking, you can’t expect much from a sushi-making kit that you get off of store shelves or via online shopping. By default, these are products that are made with profits in mind and with the lowest standards that the manufacturers could get away with.
At most, you can expect the resulting product to be edible, but you can hardly consider it sushi. As a result, if you are going to prepare sushi using one of these gimmick items, then you need to be ready for a disappointing experience.
Then again, this only applies to when you are relying solely on the instructions provided in the box. There are actually ways that you can make your sushi making kit a bit better, but it requires some familiarity with cooking. This will be discussed more a bit later on.
For now, let’s take a look at what you can usually expect to come with sushi making kits that are sold in the market:
· Nori wrappers
· Rolling mat
· Sushi rice
· Shushi vinegar powder
· Sesame seeds
· Wasabi powder
· Shopping list
Now, there’s a lot to unwrap here so that you can understand exactly what you can expect from your typical sushi making kit. To start with, some kits can actually come with a few more gimmick items that you may or may not use such as dried goods. However, at the end of the day, the fewer preserved items you get the better.
Speaking of which, the first thing that any good sushi making kit should have is the nori wrapper. Not only that, it needs to be the toasted kind so that you don’t have to waste time making it crispy by exposing it to fire. Since you are buying a kit for making sushi, it can be safely assumed that your cooking skills are not that good.
After that, you need to make sure that you are getting a rolling mat. Some kits don’t offer that, so you need to check the label or product description first. If there is no choice, then you should at least know so that you can purchase a mat for rolling sushi with.
Then we have the sushi rice, which is something that can get a bit dicey if you don’t know what you are doing. You see, just because a sushi-making kit claims to include sushi rice, this doesn’t mean that it actually has rice that is meant for sushi. What you want is Japanese short-grain rice, but this is not always what you get with cheaper kits.
Chances are, if you are buying the kit for the first time, you won’t really know what you are getting. So you should at least know what to do regardless of what kind of rice you are going to get. From there, we come to sushi vinegar powder, which is basically vinegar that has been dehydrated and then ground up.
You would usually just need to mix this with water in order to turn it back into its liquid form. The instructions on how to do so will be included in the box. You should know from this alone, however, that you are not looking at a good quality vinegar for your sushi.
Whether or not sesame seeds are included in the kit or not doesn’t really matter that much if you are planning on making only makizushi. This is the kind where the nori is outside rather than inside. However, if the kit does come with the seeds, you might need to toast them first to bring out their flavors.
On the matter of the wasabi powder, you should expect this to be the fake kind, made of substitute ingredients rather than real wasabi. Just so you know, the authentic version of the green past is made out of the grated stem of the wasabi rhizome. This powder will serve your needs, but don’t expect it to be anything great.
If the kit is any good, it will also come with instructions on what you can do with the products you were just given. Assuming you are not that familiar with any of them yet, take a look and see if you learn anything new.
Finally, you are going to get a list of items that you are encouraged to purchase at the market. These items are likely the fresh ingredients that you need for your sushi since those things can hardly be included in the kit. You can follow this shopping list or ignore it for something better if you want.
How to Use Sushi Making Kits
You can use sushi making kits in two ways. One is to follow the instructions you were given along with the ingredients or you can apply some simple cooking theories so that you actually get a good experience.
On the one hand, you won’t have to learn how to cook and just follow a few simple steps that could go wrong. On the other, you are much more likely to succeed but you will need to put in some effort. Which one you choose will be up to you, but I highly recommend you go with the latter.
With that said, let’s proceed with the assumption that you are going with my recommendation. With that being the case, let’s start with you first understanding the basics of making sushi. We can start with the nori.
As already stated, the nori that you should get should be toasted. This means that it should be crispy. If it feels tacky or leathery when you first get it, you will have to toast it yourself. Throwing it in a toaster oven for a minute or two will work, and so will a few brief passes over an open flame.
Regardless of whether the nori was already toasted or you had to toast it yourself, you will need to store it properly in an airtight container. Do not bring it out until you are going to form the sushi roll and cover it every time you get a piece. This will make sure that the crispiness and quality of the nori are maintained.
Speaking of which, you will also need to check the nori for any discoloration, odd smells, and strange tastes upon opening the kit. You never know if the dried seaweed had gone bad due to bad storage practices on the part of the seller and you don’t want to fall victim to that carelessness.
Next is the rice and this one needs to be cooked to perfection. For every cup of rice, you need to add one and a half cup of water. This guarantees the best results every time when using a rice cooker. You should also make sure to check the rice and see if it has enough starch. The starchier the rice, the brighter the color.
You will want to make sure that you get this right because a lot is riding on it to make your sushi preparations a success. To start with, rice grains that don’t stick well to each other will make the sushi’s structure unstable and loose. That lack of stickiness can also translate to an unpleasant mouthfeel, which will ruin the sushi regardless of the quality of the other ingredients.
If there is any discoloration with the rice that wasn’t deliberately added, you will need to throw it out. Some rice grains have been flavored with spices beforehand, so you need to watch out for that. You don’t want foreign odors or flavors to interfere with the purity of your sushi enjoyment.
Speaking of which, after that is the vinegar mixture. The packet that you are going to get from the kit is likely to already be flavored with sugar and salt, but if it is not, it’s up to you to add it. This will add extra layers of flavor to your sushi rice.
It’s worth noting that this particular way of flavoring the rice is not ideal. To start with, you might have to deal with lumps of the powder. There is also the fact that dehydrated items rarely ever taste like the real thing. As such, you might want to simply use the vinegar you have on hand instead of relying on the powdered mixture.
Doing so will yield better results and it isn’t really that hard to do this, either. Just add some vinegar to the rice while it is still hot after transferring it to another container and then fluffing it. Taste to see if you have put enough and then sprinkle some sugar and salt. Just make sure that you don’t add too much of either since the sourness is still the main attraction.
From there, we can move on to the sesame seeds if it was included in the kit. If it is untoasted, you need to toast on a pan at low heat and with no oil. Just toss it until the aroma comes out and you’re done. Be careful with the heat or you will burn the seeds.
It is worth point out, however, that you only really need to use the seeds if you are making California maki, where the rice is outside rather than inside. If you are aiming to make a traditional sushi maki, then you need to roll the sushi with the rice inside and the nori outside.
Assuming you are making the California maki, make sure that the seeds have cooled down after toasting before sprinkling them on the surface of the roll. No heat must ever touch the sushi after it has already been formed because it can significantly change the flavor.
Finally, we have the wasabi powder. Normally, you would just have to add some water to it until it starts resembling the consistency of playdough. However, you can go further than that and make it a bit wetter if you want. This will dilute the taste a bit and make it easier to try.
On that note, you need to understand that different wasabi types, brands, and consistencies will vary in terms of flavor and effects. In the case of the wasabi powder that you will get from sushi making kits, it is undoubtedly going to taste more artificial than real wasabi.
In fact, it likely won’t be comparable to that of even other wasabi powder brands and especially not with the pastes. At least with some wasabi paste products, they can contain 50% real wasabi, so you are getting more authenticity. Don’t get your hopes up that this will be the case with sushi making kit wasabi powders.
How to Choose Sushi Making Kits
Making sushi from scratch using equipment and ingredients that you purchased yourself is the best way to make sushi at home. However, there are times when getting a sushi-making kit can be considered the better option, with the following being good examples:
· If you have little to no experience cooking
· If you don’t know how to make sushi
· If you prefer instant solutions
Regardless of your reasons for getting a sushi-making kit, it is still a fact that you will. As such, it would help if you knew what to look for in a kit so that you can get the one that would serve you best. Keeping the following in mind would certainly help:
· It must be complete
· It must be reasonably priced
· The manufacturer must be reputable
· It must be sold by a reputable seller
· The product description must be accurate
· The reviews must be detailed and authentic
If you are going to shop for sushi making kits, you need to check if it has everything that you are going to need. This should be easy enough since a list of what a kit should have has already been provided early in this piece. Just checking the product description should be enough to provide you with details on that front.
Assuming that the kits you come across have more items than what was listed in this guide, it will be up to you if you want to get them or not. Just remember to avoid getting caught by gimmicks that are not necessary for you to enjoy the resulting dish.
Speaking of which, the kits that you need to get should also be priced accordingly. You should not go for kits that are too expensive since what would be the point of that? It’s likely that the items inside are still going to be preserved and higher prices are not a guarantee of quality.
This is why you need to check what kinds of items the kit comes with. If the things included are good enough to justify the price of the product, this still doesn’t mean that you should get it. You don’t need to choose kits that come with unnecessary items regardless of whether they are worth the money or not.
Manufacturer reputation is an incredibly big deal when it comes to food since we are talking about things that you are going to put in your mouth. As such, you need to look at which company made the kit that you are thinking about buying and researching if it is a trustworthy entity.
If you believe that you can trust the company making the kit, you can go ahead and get it. If not, then you need to search for something else. You never know if they mixed something in any of the preserved items in the kit that is harmful to your health. It would not be the first time that such companies are caught doing this.
Just as the reputation of a manufacturer is important when buying their good, the reputation of the seller matters as well. Depending on where you are buying the kit from, you can usually tell if the people or store selling the product can be trusted. You should check this detail beforehand.
On the matter of the product description, you should place emphasis on accuracy. By reading the reviews on the page or researching a bit, you can find out if the kit will actually be coming with the items that its product description claims it will. You don’t want to find out later that the kit didn’t actually have the sushi mat that you were expecting when you bought it.
Should I Get a Sushi Making Kit?
Sushi making kits are primarily aimed at a particular group of people, mostly those who are absolutely hopeless in the kitchen and simply need a shortcut in being able to eat sushi. If you have no skills in cooking, getting a sushi-making kit might just be for you.
Kit or Homemade Sushi?
If you have to choose between using a sushi-making kit or just making the dish on your own, the latter would be to your benefit. Doing so will not put you under the mercy of ingredients and methods that were chosen by someone else. You can customize the taste and appearance too.
Are Sushi-Making Kits Worth It?
If you have to ask if it is worth it to get a sushi-making kit, the answer would depend on your skill level and commitment to quality. The ones who would benefit most from these kinds of products are those who have absolutely no culinary capabilities and have no interest to learn. Everything is made as simple and straightforward as possible.
The only way you can make the preparation of sushi more straightforward than using a kit is to have someone else make it for you. As such, you don’t have to put too much effort and brainpower into actually producing edible versions of the Japanese dish. However, if you ask if it is comparable to that of true homemade sushi, then the answer is no.
There are so many aspects to making sushi that you would be giving up control over when you make it using a kit. The choice of nori, the rice, the vinegar mixture, and even the rolling mat. Any competent home cook would choose all of these things themselves so that they will be able to control the results.
Everything from the aroma, the texture, the flavor, and the structure will affect just how much you will enjoy the sushi that you will eat. You simply cannot expect to get the best of all of these from the sushi that you will get when you make it with a kit.
Your rice could be too dry, the nori too brittle, and the mat too stiff. These are real considerations that you will need to bear in mind if you are truly going to make sushi. Not to mention the consideration of safety, since not all sushi making kits are suitable for consumption.
Are Sushi Making Kits Safe?
Whenever you purchase items that are meant to be eaten online, there is always the question of whether or not it is safe to be consumed. This goes double for products that have been preserved in some way, like the ingredients in sushi making kits inevitably will. So, are these types of products safe for you to buy?
The answer is that it depends on a few factors and make no mistake about it; not all sushi making kits are safe to consume. If you don’t make your choice carefully, you could be exposing yourself and others to some harmful chemicals and additives. With that said, you need to look at the following to determine if a kit is safe or not:
· The manufacturer
· The origins
· The ingredients
· The packaging
· The prints
First on this list would have to be the manufacturer of the kit that you are going to buy. If the reputation of the company making it is not good, the safest thing you can do is to stay away from it. It could be argued that you are jumping the gun, but why would you gamble with your health like that?
Ideally, the sushi making kit you will buy should come from reputable regions like Japan since you can rest assured that it underwent strict quality control. If the item comes from a country that is known for being lax on that front, you should just stay away.
Then there are the ingredients, which are required to be listed on the box of the kit. If you are not given an image of the side where the ingredients are listed, you should look elsewhere. You can’t trust a seller with something to hide.
Speaking of the box, you also need to take a look at the way the package is presented. If it looks cheap and seems like it is about to fall apart, you likely won’t be able to rely on it for safe consumption. Just play it safe and look for another kit.
Finally, there is the matter of the prints on the box itself. You can usually tell if the item is made with the highest standards in mind when the texts actually make sense. If they look like they were put through a bootleg Google translator, the kit is probably not safe to get.