Friday, August 20, 2010

Sushi Time!

I think there are few foods as intimidating as sushi-- pristine rolls of vegetables and raw fish seem very beyond the skill level of the average home cook. Lucky for the vegetarian though, the raw fish is already eliminated as a potential problem. I will admit that even if I ate meat, raw preparations would certainly frighten me. In the meantime I am still going about 8 years strong as a vegetarian so sushi is an excellent not terrifying meal. Just know that in the recipe to follow, I'm not claiming to be a Morimoto or even close really. Sushi can be so scary because so many people are absolute experts at it and sometimes the sushi served at restaurants is on the same level as an art form. They include intricate designs with unique and well planned patterns. I have heard that some of the best sushi chefs in the world think it's an insult to dip the sushi in anything. Sushi is really just pretty amazing to me.

So while not a sushi expert, I still produce a mean meal with some soy sauce and some wasabi.Shockingly enough too, the only additional equipment needed is a bamboo mat to roll the sushi in, everything else is just optional. The first time I made this, I just happened to have a bamboo mat on accident because I thought they were neat... It was during my Asian decoration phase that I never really got out of. The ingredients are not things that many people have in their kitchen but nori and sushi rice really aren't difficult to find in a run of the mill supermarket. No need even for a specialty store.

The process begins humbly enough with rinsing the sushi rice until the water becomes clear. Nothing unusual so far.
While the rice is cooking, one has ample opportunity to cut up thin slices of vegetables to roll up inside. I used cucumbers and carrots but there are many other options. Avocado is popular but kind of temperamental and if not immediately eaten, I think it gets kind of gross. While the rice is cooking is also a good time to set up a little station with the bamboo mat, the vegetables and a bowl of water to rinse your hands off periodically so they don't stick to the rice.
Put the rice on the nori sheet and leave a little flap at the end to seal the roll at the end. Also leave a little bit of room at the edges

Place the vegetables on the rice and then use the bamboo mat to roll it all up. Use a little bit of water on the flap to seal it up.

I like to give it a hard squeeze at the end when it's all done. Surprisingly it really does help a lot.

Cutting them up is pretty difficult. You need a very very sharp knife and I find it helps to wash all of the sticky rice goop off of the knife after maybe five cuts or so.

Here is the recipe... Most of the recipe is just the sticky rice and I followed the instructions on the box. The rice is seasoned with a bottle of "sushi rice seasoning" which seems to just be some rice vinegar and sugar.

1 cup rice
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup sushi rice seasoning
4 sheets nori
thinly sliced strips of carrot and cucumber

1. Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clean then put 1 1/4 cups of water in a saucepan with the rice. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. When the rice is cooked fluff it with a fork and then stir in the sushi rice seasoning. Cool the rice for about 15 minutes.

2. Take the bamboo mat and place a sheet of nori on top of it. Take a quarter of the rice and spread it with your hands over the nori, leaving about 1/4 inch of bare seaweed all around except for the bottom where there is a one inch strip of bare seaweed as a seal. At the top place a couple of strips of vegetable and then roll the bamboo up. When you get to the bare flap at the end, moisten it slightly then roll it up too. Squeeze the bamboo mat firmly around the roll.

3. Take a knife and slice the roll into one inch thick pieces. Keep the knife clean and sharp.

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