Whether you’re new to the experience of cooking sushi at home, or a seasoned veteran, there are certain items you should always have in your store cupboard. Sushi is a simple method of preparing food, yet offers endless variety for the inventive chef or home cook. We’ve put together the following list of six sushi essentials that – combined with fresh vegetables and the appropriate protein – will be all you need to be able to create delicious sushi dishes.
Perhaps the most fundamental ingredient for your sushi store cupboard, Japanese rice is a short-grain, glutinous variety of rice that is perfect for making sushi. It is plump and slightly sticky when cooked, easy to mould into nigiri or onigiri once cooled, and essential for adding substance to your sushi dishes.
Sushi vinegar is a combination of vinegar, sugar, and salt, and sometimes dashi. It's a key ingredient in many sushi dishes. It is added to cooked Japanese rice to provide that familiar sharp tang that complements the fresh taste of fish so well. Traditionally, it was used as a way to preserve the fish and rice, this being in the days before mechanised refrigeration.
Nori is the dark, dried sheets of seaweed that are traditionally used to wrap or tie individual portions of sushi. These sheets come in sealed packs and are much-used in any Japanese kitchen. As well as being essential in the creation of sushi rolls, nori can also be used to flavour stocks and soups, or toasted for a healthy snack.
This is one of the ingredients on this list that you almost certainly have at home already. Soy sauce is a staple in all East Asian cuisines, not just Japanese. It adds that umami earthiness that is so popular in the country and helps to give the plain sushi rice a salty (and slightly acidic) flavour. Outside of sushi, of course, it is a common flavouring or condiment in many dishes.
Sesame seeds can be applied to the top of your sushi as a garnish, or rolled into the sushi rice itself to provide a different texture. The small, edible seeds deliver a satisfying crunch and release a warm smokiness into the sushi dish.
Perhaps the most popular accompaniment to sushi, wasabi is a fiery and pungent condiment, made from Japanese horseradish. It has a powerful heat to it, but with an oddly understated flavour. Since its heat is not oil-based, it does not linger in the mouth like chilli does. Most shop-bought wasabi in the UK tends to be regular horseradish with a green dye. While it’s perfectly tasty, nothing beats the real deal!
Another popular condiment for sushi is Pickled sushi ginger, or gari. The spiciness of the ginger and the sweetness of the pickling vinegar is great for cleansing the palate between dishes.
All of the sushi store cupboard essentials listed above – and so much more – are available from our online store. You can also find out more about the individual ingredients in our Masterclass and find some suitable recipes on our blog.
Big News: We have now been added as an approved supporter of Japanese food by the Japanese Government itself! We have officially received our Program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas certificate from the Japanese Government. 🇯🇵 We are 1 of only 5 certified suppliers in the whole United Kingdom verified!*