Homemade Sushi

>> Monday, April 18, 2011

Sashimi and sushi rolls

Joe and I get together every few months with our friends Sue and Mike to make sushi together. It's a great dinner party idea because sushi is rather labor-intensive, and the time you spend chopping and rolling is also time to catch up, have a glass of wine, and laugh together. Last night, we made sushi while using up the leftoever crab from New Year's Eve's crab leg and steak dinner. Mmmm...

Though sushi takes some prep work, nothing about it is very hard. I just want to stress that good sushi is made with the absolute freshest, high quality ingredients. You may spend a little extra on the best fish roe or tuna, but it is entirely worth it. Because the ingredients should be at the peak of freshness, there isn't much that can be done ahead of time.

Sushi Rice

3 cups Japanese-style rice
3 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Rinse the rice several times in a strainer. Put rice and water into a covered saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, shaking occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 15 minutes.

Prepare sushi vinegar (sushi-zu) by mixing rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small pan. Put the pan on low heat and heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture. Spread the hot steamed rice into a large plate (if you have it, use a wooden bowl called sushi-oke) by shamoji (spatula). Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice by shamoji very quickly. Be careful not to smash the rice.

To cool and remove the moisture of the rice well, use a fan as you mix sushi rice. This will give sushi rice a shiny look. It's best to use sushi rice right away.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Sushi rolls made at home
Sushi Rolls (Maki-zushi)

Making Sushi Rolls (Maki-zushi)

4 Sheets of nori (thin seaweed sheets)
1 cup of sushi rice
Desired roll fillings (see below)

Toast the nori in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes. Put a sheet of plastic wrap over a bamboo mat. Wet your hands in a bowl of water with a tablesppon of rice vinegar (this keeps the rice from sticking to your hands).
For regular rolls, put a sheet of nori on top of a bamboo mat. Spread sushi rice completely over the top of the nori sheet. For inside-out rolls, flip the rice-and-nori sheet over so the rice is now face-down on the plastic reap

Place the desired filling in a line down the center of the nori/rice. Be careful not to fill the roll too full or it will not hold together! Then beginning on one side, roll up the outside over the filling, lengthwise, pulling back the plastic wrap as you roll the nori forward. The long ends of the nori should fold over each other. Dip your hand in the vinegar water and seal the nori seams.

Using a very sharp knife, wetted in the vinegar water, slice the roll in half with a quick sawing motion, then place the halves side by side. Wipe the knife, then cut the halves into three equal slices each. You may need to wet the knife several times as the rice tends to stick. If you've made inside-out rolls, sprinkle the outside of the roll with fish roe or sesame seeds.

Roll Ingredients

California Roll: an inside-out roll; thinly-sliced avocado and cucumber, cooked crab meat, and mayonnaise.

Spicy Tuna: mix together 3 oz. finely-chopped raw ahi or yellowfin tuna, 2 tablespoons of Chinese chili-garlic paste (season to taste - this stuff is powerful!), and finely chopped cilantro.

New York (or Philadelphia) Roll: thin sheets of smoked salmon, green onion slivers, and thin slices of cream cheese (partially freeze the cream cheese to make the slicing easier).

Boston Roll: an inside-out roll; poached shrimp or crab, avocado, cucumber, butter lettuce, wasabi or Japanese mayonnaise.

Rainbow Roll: California roll topped with slices of avocado, red snapper, tuna, salmon, halibut, and yellowtail sashimi.

Mango Roll: inside-out roll; shrimp tempura inside, topped with slices of mango and poached shrimp and drizzled with eel sauce.

Dragon Roll: an inside-out roll; thinly sliced barbecued eel, shrimp, and cucumber; after rolling, layer slices of avocado on the top of the roll to look like dragon scales.

Vegetable Roll: avocado, cucumber, lettuce, kanpyo (dried gourd strips) or poached sweet potato, asparagus, Japanese mayonnaise.

Firecracker Roll: inside-out roll; scallop and chili-garlic paste inside; tuna and avocado on top of the roll.

You can actually make any combination of vegetables, seafood, and meats in a roll. Be sure to slice everything into matchbook-sized strips or thin sheets, so the delicate flavors of all the ingredients meld.

Making Hand-Pressed Sushi (Nigiri)

Wet your hands in vinegar water. Take about 1 tablespoon of sushi rice and form it into an oval in one hand. With your finger, swab a bit of wasabi paste over the rice. Take an thinly sliced rectangle of fish and press it on top of the rice oval. If desired, you can brush the top with soy sauce.

Sliced salmon nigiri
Slicing salmon for nigiri

Making Sliced Fish (Sashimi)

Using a very sharp knife and an excellent cut of fish, cut off any fat, membranes, or gristle. Slice across the grain to cut a small fillet 1/4" thick, 1-2" wide, and 2-3" long. Arrange on a serving plate, and brush the top with soy sauce. If desired, place the fillets on a bed of vinegared lettuce or Napa cabbage, or garnish the plate with vegetable rosettes.

Scattered sushi with tomago and shiitake
Scattered Sushi

Making Scattered Sushi

Scattered sushi is sometimes similar to a tossed salad, and other times it is more similar to a composed bowl of seafood and vegetables on a bed of rice. Some of our favorite versions are a sliced omelette, Japanese gourd, and mushroom dish, and a crabmeat, cucumber, and lime juice version.

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