To make a quality sushi you need not only fresh seafood but also an artistic eye, said Bastian DiCaprio, owner of San Francisco Kitchen in Nashua.
“Anybody can take fresh fish and put it on a plate, but it’s an art to be able to cut the fish and present it so it looks beautiful and appealing to the eye,” he said.
While San Francisco Kitchen sushi chef Jenny Chen demonstrated, DiCaprio shared some tips on how sushi is made. Guests at the restaurant may opt to sit at the counter and watch Chen create colorful sushi dishes.
First, there are three basic styles of sushi — the maki roll (the raw fish and vegetables wrapped in rice and seaweed paper that most people envision when talking about sushi), nigini (a small rectangular cut of raw fish on top of a rice ball) and sashimi (raw fish thinly sliced and served on julienned cucumbers).
“Some people just love the freshness of it all and some people might not like seafood but like sushi,” DiCaprio said.
To make a maki roll, you need a bamboo mat, which can be purchased at many Asian food stores, sheets of seaweed paper, sticky white rice and your desired ingredients. If the maki roll only has one filling, such as cucumber or avocado, you first spread the rice thinly across the seaweed paper (which is on the bamboo mat) and roll it over once tightly with the mat, then readjust it and roll again so you can better close the roll. If you have more than one filler for the roll, the rice should be on the outside of the roll so the seaweed can grip the contents better.
For the nigini, the rectangular cut of fish should cover a bite-sized ball of rice.
“In Japan they don’t use chopsticks for nigini,” DiCaprio said. “They use their fingers to dip it in wasabi and soy sauce.”
Wasabi, soy sauce and ginger serve as standard sushi accompaniments.
Wasabi, which is served green in America, is pale white in Japan, he said. Wasabi in Japan is grated freshly on sushi and is more potent than wasabi used in the United States.
San Francisco Kitchen only began offering sushi about six years ago, DiCaprio said.
“It was not as popular as it is now; people are experimenting and try it, it’s healthy, it’s light, it doesn’t taste fishy … it’s a new trend,” he said.
The spicy tuna roll is the most popular maki at San Francisco Kitchen and is made with crunchy noodles to give it more texture.
“It is a good choice for people that are afraid of the texture of raw fish,” DiCaprio said, adding that both the tuna and salmon have a mild flavor.
The volcano roll (a spicy tuna and crunchy noodle roll, topped with shrimp, crabmeat and noodles and drizzled with spicy mayonnaise) and the eel cucumber and eel avocado rolls are unique options on the restaurant’s sushi menu. The eel, DiCaprio said, is always broiled and barbecued.
For specials, the restaurant offers giant clam and salmon roe sushi — it does not carry either on a regular basis.
“We don’t have a lot of crazy stuff here because a lot of people in this area are still getting used to sushi,” DiCaprio said.