## A lesson on how the price of Nigiri sushi is determined

### In order to prosper, a business wants to sell products at as high a price as possible. So how does a chef determine the price of nigiri sushi?

Naturally, the cost price is what it costs the restaurant for the ingredients while the price on the menu is the selling price. The ratio of these two prices is called the cost rate. In the case of a sushi restaurant, the ideal cost rate is 35% or less. A restaurant operating with only Omakase will have a cost rate of 40% with a focus on the quality of the toppings.

For sushi restaurants, handling of this ratio and the yield are very important. Yield refers to the part of the purchased fish and shellfish that can actually be used. For example, when purchasing a whole fish there are bones, skin, eyes, tail and internal organs that cannot be served as sushi or sashimi. No matter how good a chef is when preparing fish, the bones and skin will remain. In other words, the yield rate is the percentage of parts that can be used as sushi or sashimi. Typical fish yield rates are as follows:

Wild Maguro (Tuna): 65~75%

Buri (Japanese amberjack): 50%

Hirame (Bastard halibut): 40%

Tai (Red seabream): 35%

Akagai (Ark shell): 25%

Mirugai (Keen’s gaper): 20%

The weight of just the topping for a single piece of nigiri sushi is 12 to 18 grams, depending on the ingredients and the policy of the restaurant. The market price for rice is said to be about US\$5 per kilogram, and assuming a weight of 15 grams per Nigiri, the rice for a piece of sushi is generally said to cost about US\$0.05, including vinegar and salt. Even if you count the shari (sushi rice), soy sauce, wasabi, nori, etc., it’s fair to consider the cost to be about US\$0.10.

Now, let’s figure out the price of Hirame, for which 3 kilograms were bought at \$60 per kilogram. Assume that the weight of one topping is 15 grams.

The yield rate of Hirame is 40%, so the chef can make 1,200 grams of sushi toppings from 3,000 grams of Hirame. (formula: 3000 g × 0.4 = 1200 g). Since the weight of one topping is 15 grams, 80 pieces of sushi can be made from 3,000 grams of Hirame (1200 g ÷ 15 g = 80 pieces).

Next, we calculate the cost of one topping. Hirame is US\$60 per kilogram, so US\$180 (US\$60×3 = US\$180) for 3 kilogram. Since this volume can yield 80 pieces, the cost of one topping is US\$2.25 (US\$180÷ 80 pieces = US\$2.25).

Add the shari price of US\$0.10 to this: US\$2.25+0.1=US\$2.35. In other words, the cost of one Hirame nigiri sushi is US\$2.35.

If the ideal cost ratio of 35% is applied here we get 2.35÷0.35 (35%) = US\$6.71. For a restaurant serving mainly Omakase, 2.35÷0.4 = US\$5.88.

### In summary, one piece of Hirame sushi is sold between \$5.88 and \$6.71.

It may feel surprisingly cheap, but if you perform these calculations with Kuromaguro or Uni, it will be \$60 to \$90 per piece, and then you’ll feel that it is too expensive. Therefore, the total margin is secured by setting the cost rate for Kuromaguro and Uni to 80-90%, while the cost rate for Saba and Ika is set to 10-20%.

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Revision date: January 6, 2022

## Tips for making great Inarizushi from a sushi chef

### This Inarizushi (Inari sushi) recipe was devised by a sushi chef of a popular restaurant.

First of all, sushi rice made for Inarizushi can be used for a wide variety of uses including Uramaki and Chirashizushi, so it could be useful to learn. However, the recipe is slightly different than Nigiri sushi. The reason is that in the case of Nigiri sushi, the topping is typically one type of seafood combined with a sushi rice recipe that maximizes the flavor of that seafood. On the other hand, Inarizushi, Uramaki, etc., are filled with optional ingredients put together to enjoy multiple layers of flavors spread in your mouth. The sushi rice is essential to harmonize all the ingredients. Therefore, it is made with more sugar than Nigiri sushi. In addition to toning down the sourness of Vinegar, the sugar’s own richness works to bring out a mellow taste. Kombu is also added to the rice while it is cooking. The aim here is to create a synergy between the Inosinic acid contained in Kombu and the Umami of the other ingredients.

#### How to make Sushi rice

① Start by making Awasezu (the ingredients are included below). Put the Komezu, Cane sugar and salt in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the cane sugar melts. Then turn off the burner and allow it to cool.

② Next, make the sushi rice. Wash the rice and add a little less water than the measurement on the side of the rice cooker bowl. Add the Kombu and cook it to a consistency that is a bit tougher than usual. Don’t forget to take the Kombu out once the rice is done cooking.

③ Spread the cooked rice in as large a bowl as possible and pour all the Awasezu over it.

④ Use a paper fan to fan the rice while you mix it with a flat rice scoop (shamoji) by cutting through the rice at an angle, making sure not to mash the rice.

#### Ingredients of Sushi rice

Rice：540cc

Water：490~500cc

Komezu (rice vinegar)：150cc

Cane sugar：4 tbsp and 1 tsp

Salt：2 tsp

Kombu：1 piece about 2 cm x 2 cm

#### How to make Inarizushi

① Spread the deep-fried tofu on a cutting board and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is completely flat. This helps to loosen the inside of the deep fried tofu so it will open easier. It might seem like a hassle, but it will help you make Inarizushi that looks even better.

② Boil water in a pot, add the deep fried tofu and boil for one minute to remove the oil. Drain it in a colander and let the deep fried tofu cool just enough to touch it before cutting it in half.

③ Combine the Nijiru ingredients in a saucepan and once the sugar has melted, add the cuts of deep fried tofu. Put a lid on the pot and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Turn off the burner and let cool. If you have a wooden or stainless steel drop lid you can use that too, but if not you can use aluminum foil and a flat dish instead.

④ Squeeze the juices out of the cooled deep fried tofu, and open the saccate, being careful not to tear it. Pack the prepared sushi rice and ingredients inside. Pack the sushi rice so that the center of gravity is toward the bottom and the Inari can stand up. If you keep the bottom flat, it won’t topple over. Make sure not to mash the grains while packing the rice in. You can add any ingredients that you like. You can even cut up the ingredients in advance and mix them in with the sushi rice. If you choose not to add additional ingredients and only make it with sushi rice, you can seal the deep fried tofu. Inarizushi filled with ingredients you can see is the open version and is the standard way of making it in places like Singapore and Paris.

#### Nijiru (broth) ingredients

Bonito stock: 500 cc

Soy sauce: 150 cc

Mirin: 200 cc

Cane sugar: 3 tbsp and 1 tsp

This recipe yields enough Nijiru for three sheets of deep fried tofu that are about 16 x 8 cm. The sushi restaurant recipe calls for boiling a large amount of Nijiru and simmer for a shorter amount of time. However in general home recipes call to boil until the Nijiru evaporates.

Inarizushi is a type of sushi that anyone can make easily. Just take these few tips from a sushi chef and you’ll be making delicious Inarizushi. Why not try it out as an appetizer for your next party? Just for your reference.

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## Is the combination of Chablis wine and Japanese oysters match made in heaven?

### White wine is generally thought to go well with fresh seafood.

For example, every Frenchman knows that Chablis wine and Belon oysters go together like peanut butter and jelly. The soil of Chablis is made of the stratum that dates back to the Kimmeridgian age and a unique characteristic is that the soil is rich in fossils of small oysters and shellfish. That is why oysters and Chablis wine are said to be the perfect pairing. However, surely there are Japanese people who sense the fishy odor when having Chablis wine and Japanese oysters (Magaki) together. Therefore, some people say that sake is definitely preferred over wine.

### The reason for this is that the types of oysters in France and Japan differ.

Famous for its Belon brand name, the oyster native to Europe has a flat, rounded shell. It belongs to the genus Ostrea. To be honest, Belon oysters aren’t sweet and don’t have a distinguished flavor compared to Japanese oysters, and the salty fragrance of the sea is dulled, so it can seem less flavorful.

Meanwhile, the Japanese oyster is elongated and shaped like a raindrop. It is characterized by a smell like it swallowed the whole ocean. This is the main species farmed in Japan. It belongs to the genus Crassostrea. The taste is as if the umami components of the sea have all been concentrated together in one little shell.

### Going back to pairing Chablis wine with oysters, it’s common sense in the world of flavors that items with basically similar components pair well together.

The issue lies in how wine is made. Chablis wine contains lactic acid because it is made through forced mal-lactic fermentation. Because it contains this lactic acid, it is partially fighting against the Belon oyster, which has a high glycogen content. In addition, lactic acid is called “warm organic acid”, and it has the property of becoming delicious at warm temperatures. Oysters are eaten cold, so they aren’t good for taking advantage of “warm organic acids”.

Therefore, it can be said that rather than Chablis wine, it goes well with cold organic acid white wine that is delicious when cooled to 7 or 8 degrees, for example, German Franken wine.

### So then, what should be done when pairing oysters with Chablis wine?!

If you insist on pairing oysters with Chablis wine, go all out and add squeezed lemon so the citric acid will work to mask the lactic acid and succinic acid, in turn making the wine taste good even when cold. Citric acid is a “cold organic acid” that becomes delicious when cooled, and oysters rich in glycogen go well with “cold organic acid”. Cold acid-based white wine is abundant in the refreshing “cold organic acids” known as malic acid and tartaric acid. Oysters lack this cold organic acid (malic acid and tartaric acid), so adding the citric acid of lemon creates an exquisite harmony.

However, in France there was a time when a disease spread that caused the death of the Belon oyster, nearly rendering it extinct. Therefore, since the Japanese oyster has been transplanted so many times, it is said that nowadays, at least 90% are Japanese oysters hybrids of Japanese oysters.

That means the question remains among Japanese as to whether the combination of Chablis wine and oysters really is a match made in heaven or not. Personally, we’ve never heard of oysters served without lemon, so the fishy smell really isn’t an issue at all in the end.

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Revision date: January 6, 2022