John Sugimura is executive chef, concept-brand director, and partner at PinKU Japanese Street Food in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a second-generation Japanese-American professionally trained sushi chef, whose life-long love of sushi blossomed during time spent in Kyoto, Japan. He prepares a recipe from The Immigrant Cookbook.
4 ounces (115 g) sushi-grade salmon fillets (loin if available), skin and bloodline removed
3 inch (8 cm) square dashi kombu (dried seaweed), wipe with a damp towel
1 cup (200 g) medium-grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 inch (5 cm) square dashi konbu, wiped with a damp towel
2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
1 teaspoon sake
1 teaspoon tamari
1 teaspoon mirin
Pinch Japanese bonito flakes
1 daikon radish, peeled and finely shredded
Small handful thinly sliced purple cabbage
1-2 thick scallions, sliced diagonally
½ avocado, sliced
Pinch Japanese black sesame seeds
Transfer the salmon to a small bowl and evenly sprinkle with iodized salt. Cover and refrigerate for 2½ hours to cure. Rinse under cold water and pat dry.
Make the Nikiri sauce: Place the dashi kombu in the base of a small pot. Add the soy sauce, sake, tamari, mirin, and bonito flakes. Heat over low heat until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pot, just before the mixture simmers; then remove from the heat and steep for 5 minutes. Strain into a bowl and set aside to cool.
About 30 minutes before you’d like to serve, cook the rice: Place the dashi kombu in the base of a small pot. Add the rice and 1½ cups (300 ml) water. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to very low. Summer until the water is absorbed and the rice is soft, 20 minutes.
Combine the salt, sugar, and rice vinegar and mix well until the salt and sugar dissolve. When the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork, and pour in the vinegar mixture, mixing well.
Heat broiler to high. Divide the nikiri sauce between bowls.
Remove the salmon from the fridge and cut into ½ to 1 inch (1 to 2 cm) cubes. Place the fish in a small oven-safe sauté pan and generously brush with Nikiri sauce from on of the bowls. Place under the broiler until lightly charred, 5 to 6 minutes. (The USDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 65 degrees Celsius)
Divide the rice between serving plates. Pile the radish and purple cabbage next on the rice, and top the rice with the salmon. Arrange the scallions and avocado slices on top, and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Serve the remaining bowl of Nikiri on the side.