Saving on Sushi

  • en

by on 2016-06-22 | License Permalink

Ever since I discovered it, I’ve been an enormous fan of sushi. I’m not sure that it’s anything specific that I love, as it’s more that sushi seems to lay at the intersection of qualities that I like in food: East-Asian cuisine in general; finger food; rice-based; served chilled; usually associated with fish; rich with etiquette rules that I can learn and follow; and requires some investment of time to learn how to prepare.

The problem with my love of Sushi comes from the fact that I have quite a large appetite to begin with, and the finger-food nature of the dish means I could theoretically just sit and eat it for hours at a constant rate without stopping. As such, whenever I buy sushi (usually at work, for lunch) from the local sushi box I end up purchasing between £12 - £15 worth of it; which is much more expensive than I’m comfortable with. I usually write it off as a treat and aim to buy sushi no more than once a month, although sometimes I indulge on a weekly basis.

I’ve attempted to make sushi a few times in the past, with varying degrees of success, largely as a novelty for myself and my friends. However, as I grow increasingly concious of the amount of restaurant/takeaway food I buy at work; my love of cooking has combined with my love of sushi to prompt me to make the dish as a lunchbox to save £££. My sushi is far from perfect, but it’s mine, and I’ve been using the Level Up Your Life hack to motivate my cooking of it, by rewarding myself with more sushi equipment every n times I make the dish instead of buying it. So far n has been arbitrary based on the next piece of equipment I want: 3x gets me a Nigiri press; 5 gets me boards to make into sushi plates; 10 gets me a Hangiri; 30 gets me a Narihira.

So far so good, right? Aye, but everything costs. Those who know me know that although I despise capitalism, and place far greater weight onto the value of the purchase rather than the financial expenditure (see also my PhD), I also only have so much income and would like to actually save some money by adding in my effort and love. Y’know; own the value of my labour.

The Maths

If I were to buy sushi at Nudo, I’d spend roughly £13. This is not a slight against Nudo, as their sushi is so good I can happily spend that amount. This would get me: a large box of 12 pcs; a long box of 7 pcs; and a short box of 4 pcs. That’s £13 for a total of 23 mixed maki, uramaki, and nigiri. That’s about 57p / pc.

On reflection, that’s a really good deal, and the individual boxes are prices so that a normal person without my appetite would be getting a really inexpensive lunch. But I’m me. So let’s make sushi.

As with everything cooking related; there’s a bit of a startup cost. That diminishes as more dishes are made etc. I’m going to be working with rough numbers for now, and updating as I figure everything out.

  • Sushi rice 1kg = £2.60
  • Nori (seaweed) 10 sheets = £2.50
  • Rice vinegar 500ml = £4
  • Salt = N/A (Have it in the kitchen)
  • Sugar = N/A (Have it in the kitchen)

So far we’re up to about £9, or maybe £10 if the rice vinegar is a bit more expensive. Unfortunately, due to silly Americanised recipes, I measure my rice by volume rather than by weight. I’ll measure it when I get home, but for now I use about a third of a packet of rice per session which makes approximately 30 pcs of sushi depending on how I distribute the rice across different rolls. For that I use about 70ml of vinegar, and about 5 pcs of Nori. So per session I’m using about 86p of rice, 52p of vinegar, and £1.25 of Nori. Of course is is approximate.

That brings our current total of “Cost to feed Marshall lots of sushi once” to £2.62, but we’ve not factored in the fillings. Which is where is gets fiddly, as I’m not very efficient at using them yet.

I’ve still not clocked up that many hours making sushi, so I’m still quite tentative with what I use as a filling. I generally stick to crabsticks, cucumber, and salmon. Recently I’ve been going for prawn mayonaise as well – but there’s so little of it used when you’re making three different fillings that I may as well not, and it adds to the waste of salmon as well. Maybe when I get better, or am making large batches for other people, I’ll include them again.

  • Salmon fillet = £6
  • Crabsticks = £1
  • Cucumber = 50p

I’ve found that the portions in which all of these are all more than what I need to make the sushi pieces, but it’s difficult to tell. I generally use enough of the salmon so that I’d probably only get another roll out of it (and no nigiri), and the crabsticks have plenty left over but they’re snacked on rapidly so don’t feed into any other meal. I’d say that with careful pre-portioning, I’d be able to split the salmon fillet prior to freezing so that I don’t waste it, and I could actually probably use more rice to make more nigiri. The cucumber is the most wasted bit, with me using only a few strips of the half I usually portion off. Again, this works better when I’m making sushi for others, but if we’re calculating cost for me I’d have to say I would use £4 of the salmon, and the cucumber can last a week in the fridge to be used for more sushi. To err on the side of caution, I shall say that whilst the food can (and should) be utilised elsewhere, it’s still an investment per portion so I’ll have to use all of it. That’s £7.50 for fish and cucumber.

The current cost of “Feed Marshall lots of sushi” is at £10.12, giving me a saving of only £3 per meal. However, when you take into account the fact that I usually get between 30 and 35 pcs of sushi out of the rice and toppings, I calculate the conservative cost of 34p / pc. That’s a saving of 23p / pc for every time, cumulative until the heat death of the universe.

I’m actually pretty sure I’ve calculated this wrong, tbh. I’m sure it’s lower. Whenever I’ve made sushi using 500ml of rice, I’ve generally made enough for myself and a friend to have at least 20 pcs each; or enough so that I can take a portion to work the next day. And when a friend is buying in, I charge for half the ingredients. I think I’m saving more than i give myself credit for.

Expect calculations soon.