Sushi Connoisseur Mo Aoki

By Anneliese Lawton

Making sushi at home can be a ton of fun, although a little daunting if you haven’t done it before. We’ve put together some useful tips to get you started, with the help of local connoisseur Mo Aoki, executive chef and owner of Mye and Mye 2. While you may not master the art immediately (Mo’s put in over 30 years perfecting his skill), you’ll be sure to have some tasty results.

People love sushi, but many don’t attempt to make it at home. Why do you think that is?

I think the element of raw fish intimidates people – but sushi doesn’t have to involve raw fish, or any fish for that matter. Sushi is simply the pairing of sushi rice with other elements like fish and vegetables.

What tools do I need?

Making sushi at home is relatively simple if you have the right tools. It’s most important to have a rice cooker, bamboo sushi mat, sushi-grade knives and flat head rice paddle (preferably bamboo). It’s also handy to have a cutting board, mixing bowls and a colander for prep work.

What different types of sushi are there?

Nigiri Sushi – the rice is the base and is topped with fish, vegetables or other elements.

Maki – rice is rolled with dried seaweed (nori) and includes fish, vegetables or other elements.

Temaki (hand rolls) – cone shaped and rolled with rice, dried seaweed, fish, vegetables or other elements.

What’s the best rice to use?

Sushi is usually made with a special short grain rice called sushi rice and can be found at most grocery stores. Well-known brands include Kokuho Rose and Koshihikari.

How do you keep sushi from sticking to your hands?

Before working with the rice, dip your fingers in a simple mix of two to three tablespoons of vinegar and eight ounces of water.

What can I put in my sushi?

The world is your oyster (and yes, you can put oyster in sushi). Vegetables and fish are typically the key ingredients you want to include. Thinly sliced carrots, avocado and cucumber are the most common vegetables, while tuna, salmon and crab are common fish. In some rolls you may also see mango, cream cheese or tofu.

What’s the best type of fish to use with sushi?

Some of the most popular fish used for sushi is tuna, salmon, shrimp, crab, eel, yellow tail, squid and clams. Some good grocers will sell high-quality, sushi-grade fish – but I highly recommend Taro Fish in Toronto.

What storage, handling and safety precautions should be considered when making sushi with raw fish?

Always purchase fresh (not frozen) fish from a reputable market and never leave raw fish at room temperature for longer than four hours. After your sushi is made, you can safely consume raw fish for up to 24 hours as long as it’s stored properly in the refrigerator.

What are some final tips and recommendations you would give to someone who wants to make sushi at home?

My biggest recommendation: don’t use raw fish when preparing sushi at home. Try smoked or cooked fish (smoked salmon, for example) and vegetables. It’s equally delicious and much safer.