Sushi. There is nary a dish that exemplifies Japanese cuisine so exquisitely. As simple as it is elegant and, this quintessential (not to mention delicious) dish can be prepared and enjoyed by anybody! This particular version of donburi (a rice bowl topped with various ingredients) does not require a large number of obscure and exotic ingredients, but I warn you that the sushi-quality fish used in its preparation is not cheap. Take it from somebody who has been hooked on sushi since the age of twelve.
Donburi’s popularity can partially be attributed to its versatility and simplicity. There is no such thing as “donburi” by itself, as it is merely a base upon which you customize with an endless variety of ingredients. This version uses just a few basic ingredients that shouldn’t be difficult to procure. Once you make this dish feel free to experiment with other varieties of fish and toppings.
- -1 1/2 cups of sushi rice (Japanese short-grain varieties work best, but if you can’t find it in a store other short-grain varieties like calrose serve as an acceptable substitute).
- 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar (adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon of brown rice
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Sushi quality sake (salmon) and maguro (tuna)*
- Chopped green onions
- Furikake (optional)
- Place the rice in a dry bowl and fill it about an inch above the rice with cold water. Gently knead or stir the rice until the water is milky white, then empty out the water. Repeat this step two more times. Once you have finished rinsing it off the third time, strain the rice and set it aside.
- Meanwhile, bring 1 7/8-2 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Make sure to have the lid handy, because as soon as the water reaches boiling temperature you will need to put your rice in the water and seal the pot with the lid. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and allow it to cook for exactly fourteen minutes. Do not remove the lid at any point during the cooking process – the rice must be allowed to steam and removing the lid will ruin the process!
- Once the fourteen minutes have passed (don’t go over this mark or the rice will burn), turn the heat off and set it aside for ten minutes. This will allow the rice to finish cooking – again, do not remove the lid until you are ready to mix the rice.
- Meanwhile, pull aside a small bowl and measure out your vinegar, salt and sugar. When the rice is ready to be seasoned, use a flat-topped wooden or plastic spatula (no metal utensils) to gently spoon out the rice into a mixing bowl. Take care not to break or mash any grains of rice.
- Gently pour in the vinegar, salt and sugar and mix it in by folding the rice over itself repeatedly. This should take about a minute or two, since you want to make sure the rice is evenly seasoned. I encourage you to try it as you season it. Just don’t eat all of your rice!
- Once you have finished seasoning the rice, allow it to cool down to just over room temperature. This should take about an hour if you leave it out, but I’ve managed to expedite the process by placing it in the refrigerator for just over half an hour. Cover the rice with plastic wrap before allowing it to cool; this will prevent the rice from drying out.
- Right before you remove the plastic wrap from the rice, assemble the Avengers remaining ingredients onto a cutting board. Place your filets of sashimi onto a cutting board along with your green onions; don’t worry about cross-contamination as your fish is safe to eat raw and hence shouldn’t have any dangerous bacteria or pathogens. Cut your sashimi into small bite-sized pieces and your green onions into thin slices.
- Remove the plastic wrap over your rice and gently spoon it into serving bowls. Place your sashimi slices on top of the rice in a decorative manner and top with green onions and a sprinkling of furikake if so desired. Enjoy!
*The distinction between “sushi-quality” and not “sushi-grade” is important. Despite claims that one must look for “sushi-grade” fish, such a designation does not officially exist. Anybody that sells fish as “sushi-grade” is merely selling you a marketing term and thus is likely charging you a premium for perceived quality. Your fish can be of sushi quality without being labeled as “sushi-grade”.