When and where was the last time you ate sushi? Was it at the hottest Japanese spot in town? Or at an airport, pharmacy, gas station or even bowling alley? No judgment on our part, we’ve eaten our share of maki-on-the-lowdown. Sushi culture is everywhere, and nobody is immune to its sometimes inexplicably enticing charm.

Thanks to well-intentioned innovations like maki-bots, which can churn out thousands of rolls per hour, more and more people are incorporating it into their diets. The popular and convenient packaged sushi sold at a wide range of outlets definitely has more positives than negatives, despite obvious flaws. Its texture is more or less ruined by being refrigerated, for example, but it’s still healthier and fresher than a lot of other convenience food. To be sure, it’s a far cry from the historic culinary craft of sushi-making (meticulously perfected over the last 200 years, no big deal or anything).

You can debate it all day, but you’re going to end up with a plastic tray of spicy something-and-something rolls when they’re the only thing in a refrigerator case that looks good. If that makes you want to connect with your sushi habit on a deeper level, here are five good ways to make it happen.


Rice First, Everything Else Second

The most important thing is that you want to make sushi enough to hunt down sushi-grade fish, which isn’t always easy. Right? Wrong, it’s the rice. Sushi apprentices spend years mastering rice before they graduate to working with fish. Cooking perfect sushi rice is like drawing a perfect circle. Persevere, and you’ll be handsalmonly rewarded.

Handball Sushi

Make Handball Sushi, Avoid Embarrassment/Bad Nigiri

Now that we’ve made a fish pun, let’s talk about nigiri. A slice of fish on rice may seem like a simple thing, but without a ridiculous knife, incredibly fine dexterity and a detailed knowledge of shapes, angles and how many millimeters thick something is, you are up a Japanese creek. Like sushi rice, practice makes perfect, but if you want to churn out a truly delicious bite in the meantime, handball sushi is about as easy (and frankly cute) as it gets.


Employ Simple, Effective Techniques

Tackle sushi’s subtle complexities with equal simplicity. Does your sushi fall apart when you dip it into soy sauce? Bring the soy sauce to you. Couldn’t imagine for the life of you how to prepare shrimp for making nigiri sushi? Be one with the bamboo. No solution in the sushi-making or eating world is particularly complicated, so look to simplicity for big improvements.

(Photo: takaokun/Flickr.)

For The Love Of Wasabi, Order The Mackerel

When it comes down to it, you love sushi because you love fish. And if you love — truly love — yellowtail and salmon as much as you say, your capacity for love is about to increase. Its briny fishiness may be more pronounced than tuna, for instance, but it’s genuinely one of the most tender, buttery, delicious pieces of sushi on the menu. Best of all, it’s one of the most sustainable options as well.

Go All In. More In Than That. Even More In Than That.

You’ve probably never heard of funazushi, and for good reason. It is advanced as heck. The strong smell of fermented fish takes a few tries before its more appealing flavor notes come through, but if you encounter it, it’s one of the ultimate sushi challenges. If fermented sushi seems a little much for you, pick a piece from the chart below and add a new favorite to your repertoire.

pieces of sushi