Sushi rice. Sushi is made with white, short-grained, Japanese rice mixed with a dressing made of rice vinegar, sugar, salt, konbu, and sake.It is cooled to body temperature before being used. In some fusion cuisine restaurants, short grain brown rice and wild rice are also used. Sushi rice (sushi-meshi) is prepared with short-grain Japonica rice,which has a consistency that differs from long-grain strains such as Indica. The essential quality is its stickiness. Rice that is too sticky has a mushy texture; if it is not sticky enough, it feels dry. Freshly harvested rice (shinmai) typically has too much water, and requires extra time to drain after washing.
There are regional variations in sushi rice, and of course individual chefs have their individual methods. Most of the variations are in the rice vinegar dressing: the Tokyo version of the dressing commonly uses more salt; in Osaka, the dressing has more sugar.
Sushi rice generally must be used shortly after it is made. The Wiki Cookbook has a simple recipe.
Nori. The seaweed wrappers used in maki and temaki are called nori.This is an edible seaweed traditionally cultivated in one of the harbors of Japan. Originally, the plant was scraped from dock pilings, rolled out into sheets, and dried in the sun in a process similar to making paper. Nori is toasted before being used in food.
Today, the commercial product is farmed, produced, toasted, packaged, and sold in standard-size sheets, about 18 cm by 21 cm in size. Higher quality nori is thick, smooth, shiny, and has no holes.
Fish. For culinary, sanitary and aesthetic reasons, fish eaten raw must be fresher and of higher quality than fish which is cooked. A professional sushi chef is trained to recognize good fish, which smells clean, has a vivid color, and is free from harmful parasites. Only ocean fish are used raw in sushi; freshwater fish, more likely to harbor parasites, are cooked.
Commonly-used fish are tuna, yellowtail, snapper, conger, mackerel and salmon. The most prized sushi ingredient is known as toro, a fatty, marbled cut of tuna. This comes in varieties ōtoro (often from the bluefin species of tuna) and chutoro, meaning middle toro, implying it is halfway between toro and regular red tuna (akami).
Seafood. Other seafoods are squid, octopus, shrimp, fish roe, sea urchin (uni), and various kinds of shellfish. Oystersare not put in sushi; the taste is not thought to go well with the rice.
Vegetables. Pickled daikon radish (takuan) in shinko maki, pickled vegetables (tsukemono), fermented soybeans (natto) in nattō maki, avocado in California rolls, cucumber in kappa maki, asparagus, yam, tofu, pickled ume (umeboshi), gourd (kampyō), burdock (gobo), and sweet corn with mayonnaise.
Red meat. Beef and ham.
Other fillings. Eggs (in the form of a slightly sweet, layered omelet called tamagoyaki), raw quail eggs.
Shōyu. Soy sauce.
Gari. Sweet, pickled ginger.
Wasabi. Green paste with a sharp, horseradish-like flavor. It is believed to kill any germs on raw fish.
References: Shimbo, Hiroko (2000). The Japanese Kitchen, The Harvard Commons Press. ISBN 1-55832-176-4.