Preparing sushi goes beyond getting fresh ingredients and following the right recipe; you also need to know how to cut the sushi when it’s done for proper presentation.
If not, you’ll end up with wrongly-cut sushi sizes, which will be nowhere compared to the fine cuts you see in restaurants or online. Below is how you can cut your sushi well.
What Do You Need To Cut Sushi?
You need some kitchen tools to cut sushi if you want a perfect stroke.
- Knives: the best knife for cutting sushi is a multipurpose knife called a Santoku knife. It’s a Japanese knife, and every sushi lover usually owns one. Santoku means “three virtues.” The knife is double-edged and delivers what you want in one stroke. For cutting the fish, it’s advisable to use a Yanagi knife as it helps control the thickness of the fish and ensures you get the right sizes effortlessly. For cutting the vegetables, a Yakiri knife will do. It’s the thinnest of the three knives, making it perfect for dicing the vegetables for the filling.
- A wooden chopping board: You need a surface to cut your vegetables, fish, and sushi rolls on, and a chopping board is your best bet.
- A bowl: you need a bowl to put the cut sushi rolls.
- A bamboo mat: you’ll need a bamboo mat to compress the sushi roll, especially if it’s big. However, it’s optional.
- A plastic wrap: if you’re using a bamboo mat, you’ll need plastic wrap. It protects the sushi roll from contamination.
Step-by-step Method On How To Cut Sushi Using A Knife
Cutting sushi isn’t difficult if you have the right tools and follow the proper steps. Follow the guidelines below on how to cut sushi:
- Use a Santoku knife to cut your sushi. Ensure it’s not dull and well-cleaned.
- Place the sushi on the wooden chopping board. The board must be big enough to contain the sushi. Also, if the board isn’t rigid, it can damage your knife.
- With one stroke, cut the sushi in half. If the knife is very sharp, you should have no trouble doing this.
- After dividing the sushi, wet the knife’s edge and cut each half into equal, smaller rolls. The thickness of each roll depends on your preference and how big your sushi is. The purpose of wetting the knife’s edge is to prevent the sushi filling from sticking to it.
- Ensure you wet the edge after each cut. However, be careful with water not to make the sushi too moist or fall apart.
Double Push Method
Another way to cut sushi is to use the double push method, especially if the sushi is big. Here, you’ll need a plastic wrap and a bamboo mat. Below are the steps:
- Wrap a clean plastic wrap around the sushi roll. Then, wrap a bamboo mat around it. Use the mat to press down the sushi roll gently. However, be careful so as not to make the ingredients fall apart.
- Next, moisten the edge of the knife’s blade. Water is enough to do this; you don’t need to use oil.
- Hold the sushi roll with your left hand and use your right hand to cut with just two strokes.
Step-by-step Method On How To Cut Sushi Using A Sushi Roll Cutter
While using a knife to cut sushi isn’t bad, it isn’t practical if your sushi rolls are many and you need to cut them all. Such a process will be taxing.
However, you don’t have to subject yourself to it. You can use a sushi roll cutter, a large or small device powered by electricity which you can place on your kitchen table. Below are instructions on how to use a sushi roll cutter:
- The size of your sushi roll cutter should be determined by how many sushi rolls you want to cut. For example, if you run a home business selling sushi rolls, you might want to get a large device for more effectiveness. A small sushi roll cutter can only cut a sushi roll per time, while a larger one can cut up to 5 at once.
- Ensure the interior and exterior of the cutter are well-cleaned. If it’s dirty, a proper dusting will do. Don’t use water on it because it’s an electrical appliance. Pay special attention to the blades when cleaning.
- Place your sushi rolls on the blade and plug the cutter to a power source. Don’t forget that a small device can only cut one roll per time, while a large appliance can cut up to 5 rolls. So, ensure you don’t overstuff your sushi cutter with sushi rolls. You might spoil the machine in doing so.
- Once the rolls are cut, use your hands to lift them off the blades.
Can I Cut Sushi That Keeps Falling Apart?
Yes, you can. If your sushi rolls keep falling apart, it simply means some ingredients weren’t enough or are in excess quantities.
Well-prepared sushi should hold together even after being cut into sections, especially if you use the right type of rice. Even though a loosely-held sushi roll is difficult to cut, you can find a way around it. Here’s what to do:
- If your sushi roll isn’t sticking together, it likely means the filling is too much. As such, remove some of the fillings.
- Moisten the nori sheet’s edge with your fingers, which helps the falling pieces stick together.
- You can also wrap the sushi roll with waxed paper and cut it into sections as desired. The paper will make cutting easier.
- If you can’t get waxed paper, you can use a cling film as a substitute. Don’t forget to remove the paper or film when eating the sushi.
4 Tips To Consider When Cutting Sushi
Asides following any of the methods above, there are important tips to consider when cutting sushi if you want perfect strokes. Some of them are:
- Use the right ingredients: if you don’t use the right ingredients to make your sushi, you’ll find it difficult to cut it. For example, sushi rice is usually short-grain, Japanese rice. If the rice falls short of this quality, it will fall apart when cut. Also, the nori sheets must have settled and firmly stuck together. If not, they would stick to the knife when you cut the sushi rolls.
- Use a sharp knife. A sharp knife will get the job done in just one stroke. It’ll be difficult to cut through the sushi rice, vegetables, and fish if the blade isn’t sharp. You’d be struggling, making the ingredients fall apart.
- Wet the edge of the knife’s blade or clean the blade after every cut. This ensures the ingredients don’t stick to the blade, and the knife does its job smoothly.
- Ensure the sushi roll is tight before you start cutting the sushi. If it’s loosely held, the roll will break into uneven sections when cutting it. But if it’s tightly rolled, the cuts will be even and precise.
5 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Even Sushi Cuts
Many people want to get the best sushi cuts but make avoidable mistakes. You don’t have to repeat the same steps. Your sushi story can be different. Below are some common mistakes to avoid :
Using too much water or rice
The rule of thumb is that half a cup of water should go with every cup of sushi rice. Not following this measurement will make your sushi rolls soggy and sticky, with the filling barely hanging on. Cutting such a type of sushi will be a disaster.
Thinking you don’t need a bamboo mat
There are majorly two types of sushi: maki and temaki. Maki is the hand-rolled sushi that takes the shape of a cone. You don’t need to cut this. However, maki is the long, tubular sushi.
You need a bamboo mat to roll it into a tight, compact shape if you’re making maki. Using your hand to roll maki won’t do as you’ll have irregular cuts.
Stuffing your sushi rolls with fillings
even though you can mix different fillings in one sushi roll, it shouldn’t be excessive. Too many fillings or uneven vegetable/fish slices will make the rolls difficult to cut through.
Two fillings are enough for a roll. Also, ensure the vegetables are thoroughly diced.
Using a kitchen knife
A regular kitchen knife can never give you the even, precise sushi cuts you want because it isn’t built for cutting sushi. It’ll frustrate you to no end.
Whether you’re cutting the fish or vegetables for the filling or the sushi roll, use the knives that have been marked for such tasks.
Using oil to wet the blade’s edge
To get fine cuts, use water to wet the blade’s edge or clean the blade after every cut. If you use oil instead, it will ruin the sushi’s flavor and make it unnecessarily oily.
Cutting sushi isn’t a difficult task if the sushi was well-made in the first place. What matters is to get the right tools for the job. For instance, a regular kitchen knife won’t cut finely as a Santoku knife.
Besides, you can always use a sushi roll cutter if you dont want to use a knife or if you’ve many sushi rolls to cut.
Hiroshi Nakamura, a Tokyo-born sushi chef turned US-based writer and critic, is the voice behind ichisushi.com, blending traditional sushi wisdom with modern insights.