This week’s episode of Chefs at Home features chef Yoshi Okai of Otoko in Austin, Texas.

By Bridget Hallinan
December 08, 2020
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If you’ve ever wanted to make your own sushi at home, this week’s episode of Chefs at Home has you covered. We’re joined by Yoshi Okai, executive chef at Otoko in Austin, Texas (and a Food & Wine Best New Chef alum), who demonstrates how to make four different rolls—Hosomaki, Uramaki, Futomaki, and Temaki—along with a sea bass crudo, too. As he cooks, he also touches on the history of sushi, talks about how he started cooking, and points out some of his tattoos, too. Read on for his step-by-step methods and follow along with the video above.

Sushi Rice

Okai starts out by preparing five cups of sushi rice, noting that “rice is the most important”—“you mess up rice, no sushi.” Wash the rice gently, and add it to a rice cooker with 1/2 a cup of sake and four cups of water to cook.

Okai also prepares a sushizu, or sushi vinegar, using rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, cooking the mixture over high heat on the stove until the sugar and salt dissolve. Each region of Japan has a different style of sushi rice, he explains. In this case, he’s making Kyoto-style sushi rice, which he describes as “less sweet, more salt content.” 

He mixes the cooked rice with the sushi vinegar in a hangiri, or sushi oke, using linen towels to remove excess starch (again, be gentle). After the rice has cooled for a little while, you’re all set to make rolls.

Crudo

As the rice cooks, Okai prepares his crudo, which he notes is not traditional. He uses European sea bass from Spain, but says that “any kind of fish is fine”—you can fillet it yourself, or ask the fishmonger to do it for you. Don’t forget to remove the pin bones if you do decide to break it down yourself.

Refrigerate the fish until you’re ready to use it. Then, cut it into pieces—Okai recommends 0.5 centimeters, or 0.2 inches, thick. For the crudo, he pairs the fish with sliced mango, garlic, Thai chile, and cherry tomato, as well as a sauce he made with soy sauce and rice vinegar. A drizzle of olive oil and some fresh cilantro on top finish it all off.

Get the Recipe: Sea Bass Crudo with Mango and Cilantro

Sushi

Okai wraps up the video by preparing four different sushi rolls: traditional Hosomaki rolls, Uramaki rolls, Futomaki rolls, and Temaki, or hand rolls.

Hosomaki

First up is the Hosomaki. Okai grabs 80-90 grams of rice—be careful not to use too much, so your roll doesn’t come apart—as well as the same sea bass he used for the crudo, plus some avocado and cucumber. The rice goes on the inside of the roll in this case, with nori seaweed as the exterior. The finished roll is sliced into six pieces.

Uramaki

For these rolls, the rice is on the outside. You’ll need 100 grams—for the filling, Okai uses avocado, cucumber, and mango. He wets his fingers with water when making the roll to avoid the rice sticking (although, you don’t want to use too much water, either).

Once the rolls are finished, he cuts them into eight pieces.

Futomaki

Okai describes this roll as a bigger version of the Hosomaki roll. He packs it with sea bass, avocado, cherry tomato, and mango, cutting it into five pieces.

Temaki

Finally, Okai prepares Temaki with sea bass and avocado. (Once again, the rice is inside this roll as opposed to outside.)

As he makes the rolls, Okai recommends wetting the knife with water when you cut the sushi so it doesn’t stick to the rice. And, once you’re ready to eat, take care not to use too much soy sauce when you dip—you only want to use “a tiny bit.”

Come back next Monday, December 14 for our next episode of Chefs at Home featuring chef Caroline Schiff.