Matt Marshall

23 Posts with Tag food (All tags)

Saving on Sushi

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.

diary food sushi money

Just had a wonderful dream where, in a Communist Britain, we banned the majority of cars from inner cities and replaced most carparks with high-rise vertical urban farms to feed local people.

It was super neat as it replaced pollution with, y'know, jobs and food.

food communism urban farming

Benefits of doing my thesis and #chi2019 paper from home:

  • Wide array of tea options
  • Less distractions, nicer environment than the lab
  • Chippy around the corner


  • also the chippy. I buy way too much chippy.

food life phd chi2019 writing

A slice of PIE

Maybe because I'm sentimental, and maybe because I'm a nerd, I've been exploring the ancient world of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) culture lately. For those not as nerdy as I am, PIE is a term used to describe the common ancestor for all peoples whose genetic lineage traces to prehistoric Eurasia. This includes peoples from Northern Europe, the British Isles and Ireland, mainland Central and Western Europes, Eastern Europe, India and what the West terms the 'Near-East'.

PIE studies usually centre around reconstruction of the language and, subsequently, the culture of the PIEs. Using comparative techniques known to people like linguists and mythologists, a fairly decent reconstruction can be made in a lot of areas (according to our current techniques and understandings of them, anway). PIE stuff generally satisfies me on several levels then -- history, language stuff, and most importantly the shared human heritage of a very large number of people in the Eurasian landmass and our relatives who immigrated to the Americas, Australia and Indonesia.

Part of my personal exploration of this has involved delving into the shared religion of these peoples. A lot of religions trace their roots to the PIE religion, and whilst the names have been reconstructed using fancy techniques I don't understand, it brings me joy to realise that members of our species once engaged in ritual practices around the worship of these people.

And this is why I want to discuss my Slow Cooker.

I came across the goddess *Haéusōs. She is characterised as the goddess of the dawn, and her descendants include the Greek Eos, the Germanic Ostara (Easter) and the Vedic Uṣás among hundreds of others. Interestingly, the PIEs are thought to have conceived of the hearth, a fire that forms the centre of the home's social world, as a small piece of the Sun (and therefore the dawn). *Haéusōs is therefore associated with the Hearth as one of the primary and most important deities; since the Hearth was such an important concept in the PIE social universe.

Recently, *Haéusōs is making her importance known to me in my home. Now, I'm not particularly religious in the theistic sense but I am a stickler for ritual and for anything that connects us to other humans (including dead ones). So I will continue to elaborate. I've been streamlining myself and sidelining some bad habits lately, and among my toolkit is my slow cooker.

Slow cookers are fucking brilliant. They aren't amazing with dried legumes, but still. You just load them with things, set them away, and turn up 6 hours later to find delicious food. If that's not pagan ritual magic I don't know what is. Anyway, since I've been using my slow cooker a LOT more, it's sort of become the centre of my world at home. Food is my big vice, and the better quality of food I can prepare for myself the better. I've been living off of slow cooked chilli this year, and have recently begun playing with a slow cooker daal. It's amazing. And I'm only going to start on more elaborate things. Anyway, my point is sort of that as my slow cooker becomes more and more important as a tool in my daily life, I feel that it's grown somewhat akin to the Hearth of PIE history. It's nice that, even with the advances in technology, I can maintain a practice that humanity has shared for time immemorial -- sitting down to a damn good warm meal at the end of the day, one which has been heating through for hours.

All hail *Haéusōs.

food humanism PIE hearth comfort