Here are four ways to start slicing sushi like a chef.
After mastering making sushi-rice, and getting quality fish from your fishmonger, the next step is learning how to cut strips of fish worthy of being served as sashimi and nigiri. Ultimately, practice will make perfect, so we got some tips from Food & Wine Best New Chef of 2017, Yoshi Okai at Otoko here in Austin. Here are some tips to keep in mind while slicing fish.
“You always have to do it one one smooth stroke,” Chef Yoshi says. Starting from front to back, run your Yanagi through the fish in one smooth motion to create a perfect slice. “You can really taste the difference,” Chef Yoshi says, “if you’re doing a ton of cuts, you can feel the jagged edges in your mouth.” This is why it’s also important to always cut against the grain.
“We hold the knife very gently,” Chef Yoshi says, flapping the knife around in his hand like a noodle. “If you use too much power, you’ll crush the fish and ruin the texture.” A sharp knife with added weight but still balanced, exactly like our Yanagi, will help you slice fish into nice, clean strips, without applying too much extra-pressure. “Let your knife do the work,” he said, “it will create the cleanest cut and the best texture.”
Whether you’re cutting salmon or tuna or hamachi, the angle your blade slices affects the thickness of the slice. This is largely dependent on the fat content of the fish— “If it’s fatty, I cut it thinner than normal,” Chef Yoshi says, “and so the angle of my blade is more open.” If it’s a less fatty piece, the cut should be thicker, “and so my blade angle is smaller,” he says.
The best advice Chef Yoshi had for people at home was to “always wipe your blade with a wet towel in between slices.” This will help the fish not stick to your knife, and it will help you produce cuts of fish with a smooth texture each and every time.