Books / Reviews | RECENTLY PUBLISHED BOOKS ABOUT JAPAN

'Sushi Master': Nothing fishy about this masterful account

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Contributing Writer

“109.” That’s the number on the front cover of “Sushi Master.” It’s Nick Sakagami’s osakana maisutā (fish master) number. Think of it as an accreditation similar to a master sommelier. Currently, Sakagami is the only certified fish master living outside Japan.

Sushi Master, by Nick Sakagami.
168 pages
QUARRY BOOKS, Food.

Originally from Tokyo, Sakagami is a longtime resident of the U.S. where, from his base in California, he runs a fish consultancy and import-export business. Fish is his life: from trading in the labyrinth fish markets in LA and Tokyo, to checking in on sustainable fish farms in Tahiti and Wakayama Prefecture, or easing into a seat at the counter of a sushi restaurant on either side of the Pacific.

Sakagami clearly enjoys sushi, but preachy he is not. Rather, with his debut book, he advocates for making sushi at home so that “you can eat like a pig and drink like a skunk and not have to drive home at the end of the evening.”

The first half of “Sushi Master” is a levelheaded guide to sushi culture. Sakagami offers advice on knives and rice cookers, as well as explainers on the fish most commonly used in sushi, when to buy and what to look for.

While the bulk of the recipes are sushi-themed, sashimi and a few nonfish side dishes also make appearances. The sushi recipes cover everything from preparing sushi rice and homemade favorites such as maki rolls to more experimental presentations such as the “Awesome California Roll.”

The photos, which are gorgeous, also double as a great step-by-step guide. For anyone starting out making sushi at home, or who wants to know more about the types of fish used in sushi, this is the book for you.