The One Sushi Ingredient You Can't Mess Up, According To Chef Morimoto - Exclusive

Chef Masaharu Morimoto is not a sushi traditionalist. When the Iron Chef opened (the now-shuttered) Morimoto New York in 2006, he didn't serve the same dishes he'd served when opening his first restaurant in Japan. In his bones, Chef Morimoto appreciates and advocates for local twists and takes on sushi. "New York is New York. Los Angeles is Los Angeles, Moscow is Moscow, London, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Rome ... All have to do local sushi and provide for their own industry, culture, history, and people," Morimoto told Mashed in an exclusive interview.

Insofar as any culinary competition has a raison d'être, Chef Morimto's latest foray into televised competitions, "Morimoto's Sushi Master," is resoundingly clear. Learn sushi rules in order to break them. Tuna, salmon, shrimp, squid, eel, and crab are certainly traditional ingredients in a sushi roll, but — as Morimoto told us — if your heart feels moved to add in pickles, mushrooms, and sausages, that's 100% A-OK. The only ingredient you shouldn't mess around with is the rice, per the culinary legend. "Great sushi has great rice," Morimoto assured us. "The rice is more important than the fish." 

The secret to Chef Morimoto's sushi rice

Don't be so hard on yourself if faultless sushi rice has thus far eluded you. Take it from Chef Morimoto, who once told Williams Sonoma that many chefs "spend years" perfecting their rice cooking technique to "add just the right balance of sweet and tart flavors." Do invest in a Japanese rice cooker, Chef Morimoto recommended when we asked the master how to perfect the all-important sushi ingredient. These kitchen tools, which operate via pressurized cooking, will give you the rice texture that your sushi needs. 

With your Japanese rice cooker in hand, it's time to start experimenting with your preferred proportions of the three essential sushi rice seasoning ingredients — vinegar, sugar, and salt. "If you feel like a sweet sushi rice, you put more sugar in it. If you want more salt, more sour [profiles], anything you want ... it depends," Morimoto told Mashed. The sushi master himself prefers four parts vinegar, two parts sugar, and one part salt. 

Pick up more sushi tips from Chef Morimoto on "Morimoto's Sushi Master," which you can stream for free on The Roku Channel.