The Culinary Art of Slicing Fish

Traditional sushi chefs can spend an entire career mastering this noblest of culinary arts. But if you'd simply like to incorporate sushi-making skills into your culinary repertoire, here are some tips to get you started.

An Ancient Culinary Art

Japanese sushi chefs spend three years in training before they ever slice a fish, ten years in all. Rich in tradition and ritual, the path to a Japanese sushi chef career bears some resemblance to martial arts training. But these sushi masters are slicing poisonous blowfish, relying on expert knifework to release just the 'right' amount of venom into the sliced fish. They must know exactly what they're doing.

Fusion Fish

Those headed for an American chef career will probably find themselves slicing fish for 'Asian fusion' dishes. Fusion sushi offers the same opportunities for culinary artistry without the threat of fatality. Brilliant red ahi, orange roe-studded Spider rolls, deep green nori, and colorful towers of vegetables--you won���t even miss the poison.

Sushi Chef Training Secrets

A simple chef training course can get you started creating your own sushi sculptures. You'll learn how to prepare the vinegar-soaked sticky rice, slice fish, and assemble rolls (maki) or individual pieces (nigiri).

As you might imagine, there's more to this ancient culinary art than rolling fish in rice. Here are some tips to keep your culinary artwork from falling to pieces:

  • Nori, the seaweed used to roll maki, has a shiny and a matte side. The matte surface should face the rice.
  • Before slicing maki, wipe the knife blade with a damp dishcloth to ensure a smooth cut.
  • After rolling the maki, let it rest for a half hour before slicing it, allowing the ingredients to bond.

Sushi chefs have countless training secrets for preparing this delicate culinary treat, and many chefs spend an entire career perfecting their art. Start with these basics, and see where your creative vision takes you.