Friday, March 14, 2008

Sushi! Arigato gozaimasu!

Sushi night! I love Japanese food.

So with sushi, you can really put in whatever you want, so I don't have an ingredients list and measurements or a real "recipe" for you today.

The first thing though, is the rice. You can use plain rice (short grain is better if you have it because it's stickier) and even better (and more traditional), you should flavor your rice with sugar and vinegar. The way I do it is to just add the vinegar and sugar (to taste) straight into the water that I'm using to cook the rice (rice vinegar is best if you have it, but any old vinegar will do). If I forget or decide to add more, I stir the sugar into the vinegar and let it dissolve, then mix it into the rice. On a side note, make more rice than you think you'll need. I'm always surprised by how much rice I use per roll.

Now on to assembly. The first thing to do is to spread the rice on the seaweed. Use room temperature rice because hot rice will make the seaweed mushy and rip and cold rice is too stiff and won't adhere to the seaweed. I like to use the rice spatula to help smush and smooth the rice onto the seaweed. If you find the rice sticking to the paddle or your hands, just wet them a bit. Not too much though, otherwise it'll make the seaweed soggy/rip through it.

As you can see, the rice doesn't cover every single inch of the seaweed and that's perfectly fine. Just make sure that it covers one of the edges. This edge will be the edge opposite of where you put your filling and will act like a glue to keep the roll from unraveling.

Line up whatever fillings you want across the bottom. Sliced cucumbers, avocados and imitation crab for california rolls. Mix the imitation crab with mayo and sriracha sauce for spicy california rolls.

This one is actually salmon skin (just salted and lightly dredged in flour and then deep fried), cucumber and fish roe.

Here's a closeup of the salmon skin that I fried up.

I also made some with unagi (eel), cucumber and avocado. (I bought the unagi, already marinated, in the frozen seafood section of an asian market. This is what it looks like)

After spreading the rice, it's time to roll! A bamboo mat will help, but is not necessary. If stuff starts smooshing out the sides, just shove it back in and don't squeeze so tight.

After rolling, use a sharp knife to cut it into pieces. Don't cut until you're ready to eat to prevent the rice from drying out. If it gets difficult to cut, dip the knife in some water (and wash off the rice that's stuck to it). The edge pieces are a bonus for the chef since they're not very "presentable", so just pop 'em in your mouth!

*BONUS: If you want to do inside out rolls, wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap so that the rice won't stick. After smooshing the rice onto the seaweed (you'll probably want to be more meticulous about getting a nice, pretty, even layer of rice on contrary to before where only the outer edge mattered), flip it over and put the line of filling in. Roll it as you would normally, except this will be more difficult, sticky and messy, but your rolls will get prettier with practice. After rolling, you can pat/roll sesame seeds, fish roe on for extra flavor and decoration. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap to prevent the rice from drying out. When you're ready to serve, unwrap, cut and eat!

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