Monday, February 11, 2008

Just in time for Valentine's Day: Sushi Demystified

Edit: Photos added! Please note that any pictures that include my hands are not to normal scale. I share the same affliction as the man in the Burger King ad.

I haven't gotten anything set up so you can access my recipes yet, but I'm going ahead with this one anyway.

Sushi is really not that hard. And it can be very creative. You can make it with very few specialty ingredients and equipment. The hardest thing to get is fresh raw fish, but if you aren't concerned with shellfish, you can get away with a number of cooked replacements.

As for the fish. I am lucky enough to live very close to a market that sells very fresh fish. If you're going to make raw sushi, get some very (I mean smell it before you buy it) fresh fish. Salmon and tuna are great choices. If not, and you can eat shellfish, do it with cooked shrimp or even smoked salmon. Fake crab meat or any other cooked shellfish would also do.

The other special ingredients you need include sushi or pearl rice, seaweed sheets (nori), rice wine vinegar (or prepared sushi vinegar), and wasabi. All of these ingredients can be had an Asian grocers. I've also seen them at other places, but maybe not all together. Please note: We do not keep strictly kosher. That is, I look at ingredients rather than a kosher seal. It may be impossible to find these ingredients that have been processed with rabbinical supervision.

Enough with the disclaimers. Let's eat. This makes enough for two hardy sushi eaters.

To make the rice, you'll need:
1 1/2 cups sushi rice
1 3/4 cups water
1 piece of nori (use the torn one in your pack) or a kelp roll if you want to get fancy about it.
2 tbs. prepared sushi vinegar or 2 tbs. rice wine vinegar combined with a tsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt

For the construction, you'll need:

A few ounces of fresh or cooked seafood
Prepared wasabi
More nori sheets
Assorted veggies cut into very thin slices

Rinse the rice well in a colander. Put the rice into a 10" saute pan and let it rest for 30 minutes. Add water to rice and put the seaweed on top. Put over medium heat. When the water begins to boil, take out the seaweed and discard. Cover the rice, turn heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and let set for 10 minutes.

Now cool and season the rice. You need to get the rice down to just lukewarm or cooler so your raw fish doesn't cook. This involves adding the seasoning and then stirring the rice while fanning it. It takes a while, but the process mellows the vinegar flavor and makes the rice sticky for later use in construction. I do this sitting on the living room floor in front of the TV and use a wooden spatula in one hand to stir and a pot holder in the other hand to wave. I bet an electric fan would work very well.

So to so this, add the vinegar mixture to the hot rice. Stir and fan the rice until it cools down.

Now your fun starts.

You can make two types of sushi. Maki sushi is the rolls. Nigiri sushi is the rice with fish on top. I do both.

To make nigiri sushi, start by wetting your hands. Keep a bowl of water nearby whenever touching the rice; it sticks to your hands. Pick up a couple of tablespoons of the rice in your moist hands, and roll and gently squish it into a little cigar shape. Place it on your plate or serving dish. Make as many as you have toppings for.

Next, top the rice. First place a dab of wasabi on each rice cigar. Wasabi is very strong, so be gentle here. A little goes a long way. Slice your seafood into 1/4 thick slices big enough to fit on top of the rice. Place a fish piece on top of each rice mound. Serve with pickled ginger and soy sauce. Yummy.

Making sushi maki is a little harder, but very fun. First, lay a square of seaweed on a sushi mat. I really use a thick placemat. Now, decide what fillings you want to put in it. You can put thin strips of whatever you like inside. I often use fish leftover from the nigiri, cucumbers, radishes, asparagus, or even fish roe. You can really use whatever you like as long as it's sliced thin. I've even seen lox and cream cheese.

Okay, so figure out how big around your fillings will be when they are rolled up. This is important, because you need enough rice to go around it. Wet your hands again and pick up a handful of rice. Place it on near the edge of the seaweed closest to you and smush it into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. You want to evenly cover the seaweed from side to side in one direction. For the other direction, spread it at least 2 or 3 inches. It has to go around the filling.

Place your thin strips of filling in the middle of the rice.

Now, lift the edge of the mat closest to you and use the mat to roll the seaweed and rice over and around the filling. Gently press the length of the roll to secure it. Lift the mat off the sushi and place the roll aside for a bit for the seaweed to get moist.

Repeat with the rest of the rice and seaweed. Using a very sharp knife, cut the rolls into bit size pieces. Serve artistically.
Post a Comment