Jiro Dreams of Sushi
That “world's best” moniker isn't just an empty bit of description or a pipe dream, Ono's sushi restaurant (located in the basement of a Tokyo office building), was awarded the coveted three-star rating from Michelin, making it one of the most prestigious restaurants of its kind in the world. Ono holds the Guiness World Record for the oldest restaurateur to receive such recognition.
Ono's work is a marvel to behold. It is the epitome of simplicity, eschewing the elaborate rolls and concoctions that have come to define the delicacy in many restaurants, and instead typically features no more than two ingredients per piece, each made by hand with the utmost care and attention. It is remarkable work and even I, one who doesn't particularly care for sushi, found my mouth watering at the sight of these simple creations.
The documentary's title is literal, as well. Ono speaks of waking up in the middle of the night, his mind bursting with ideas for new ways to perfect his sushi recipes coming in the form of dreams. Ono's passion is evident in all that he does, demanding perfection from his son (and heir to his restaurant), Yoshikazu, and apprentices.
That passion is what is really at the heart of David Gelb's film, however, as we take a look at Ono's other son who went off to find his own path as a sushi chef, as well as the various fish vendors who seem to take just as much pride and care in their work as Ono, with many of them either reserving their best stock just for him or refusing to sell to anyone by him, such is his reputation in Japan.
There is something to be said for finding one thing you love and putting your heart and soul into it, constantly striving to improve your craft. I'm not sure Ono would say he's aiming for perfection, as that seems to be a concept he would likely consider too nebulous to be a realistic goal. Instead, he simply strives to be better today than he was yesterday.
This is a delightful bit of documentary filmmaking, one that I highly recommend for anyone looking for a glimpse at a man who takes immense pride and joy at doing what makes him most happy.
— Stewart Smith
7 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1⁄2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1⁄4 cups short-grain sushi rice
1⁄4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chile sauce, such as sriracha
7 sheets of nori (dried seaweed)
1⁄2 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 1⁄2 cups lump crabmeat
14 four inch long sticks English cucumber (about 1⁄2” square)
1⁄2 semiripe avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into 14 slices
Combine 5 tablespoons vinegar, salt, and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Put rice into a fine-mesh strainer. Lower strainer into a bowl of cold water. Gently rub and toss rice in water. When water is milky white, remove strainer; drain bowl and refill. Repeat process 2–3 more times until water is almost clear. Drain rice; transfer rice to a medium pot, add 2 1⁄4 cups water, and let sit for 20 minutes. Cook over medium heat until water is nearly absorbed, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until plump, about 15 minutes. Uncover pot very quickly: rice should be completely transparent. If you see any dry spots, sprinkle a little warm water over them and cook for 1–2 minutes more. Remove pot from heat. Set aside, covered, to let rest for 5 minutes.Transfer rice to a bowl; use a wooden paddle to gently break it up. Add reserved vinegar mixture; break up clumps, turning rice over. Push rice toward one side of bowl. Insert paddle into rice and rapidly move it back and forth, breaking up clumps and pushing a portion of rice toward opposite side of bowl. The vinegar mixture should be evenly absorbed. Using a folded newspaper, fan rice for 30 seconds. Cover with a moist kitchen towel; let cool slightly. Combine mayonnaise and chile sauce in a bowl; set aside. Combine remaining vinegar and 1 cup cold water in a bowl; set aside. Wrap a bamboo sushi rolling mat tightly with plastic wrap. Top mat with 1 piece nori, shiny side down, with the long sides parallel to you. Moisten hands with vinegar water and pick up a scant cup of rice, forming it into a ball without squeezing. Place rice on nori and spread it to cover the nori, except for a 1⁄2”-wide band at the top. Sprinkle surface of rice evenly with 1 tbsp. of sesame seeds to form an outer coating. Flip nori over, placing the uncovered band of nori closest to you. Smear about 2 teaspoons of the mayonnaise mixture across nori, leaving the uncovered band dry. Arrange crabmeat along center of nori and top with 2 sticks cucumber and 2 slices avocado, to form a horizontal line. To roll, pull the band of uncovered nori over the filling; lift up bamboo mat, fold it over filling, and roll forward. Hold the roll with one hand (over the mat) and pull back on the other edge of the mat with the other hand to tighten the roll. Continue to roll tightly. Remove mat and drape over roll; press it around the roll to firm it up. Cut roll into 8 pieces and transfer to a platter. Repeat process with remaining ingredients. Serve with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce, if you like. Makes 7 rolls.
— Recipe from Saveur Magazine