Sushi

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Let’s talk sushi. My daughter, always the adventurer, introduced me to sushi years ago, and I must confess, I was dubious, until I found out that it doesn’t actually have to include raw fish. Finding that out made me so happy….I’m just now getting okay with medium rare beef – it used to HAVE to be well done, any pink at all visible and I couldn’t eat it. Not wouldn’t….couldn’t. So raw fish? Nope, not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.

I have tried, and failed, so many times to roll sushi. It generally devolves into a sticky rice mess, with filling on the counter, on the floor, stuck to my elbow, hanging from my hair and a massive amount of frustration on my part. My daughter bought me a bamboo rolling mat and the first and only time I used it, the results were not much better than when I didn’t use it. One of her friends donated two different sized filling formers (fill them with rice and filling, pinch together, drop out onto the nori and roll), that was the most hopeless and messy enterprise yet.

In theory, these should have worked. They did not.

I must say that I am certainly guilty of overfilling and that’s probably been half of my problem, but the other half? No idea. Until today. I was watching YouTube, as I do, and I ended up on Maangchi’s channel and she was making something sushi-like, and there it was, the secret to rolling sushi, that I have never seen before.

I knew to leave the top inch free of anything and to put the rice on the seaweed sheet and to put the filling on top of that, unless you’re making sushi of a different name, but there was always something going awry for me and I had no idea what. Then something on her video caught my eye, sort of in passing. So I sat and thought about it, rewound (I love YouTube for that) and there it was. Leave the bottom half inch free of anything but the rice. Move the filling up, just a skooch and, obviously, don’t cram too much filling in.

Originally for supper tonight was going to be pizza, but I had a mad craving for sushi so I was going to make sushi bowls – all the flavour, none of the rolling. Then I saw the video and nothing would do but that I tried rolling at least one sushi roll, just to see if I could. And I DID! Yes, ma’am, I did. There is nothing I cannot do now that I have somewhat mastered rolling sushi. And if y’all are laughing at me because you mastered this skill immediately, I don’t mind, I’m just thrilled I finally got it. The internet really can be a wonderful thing.

My sushi is very simple.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/3 cups of sushi rice (if you don’t have sushi rice, use what you do have)
  • 2-2/3 cups of water (to cook the rice in)
  • 1-2 TB rice vinegar, to put into the sushi rice when it’s done cooking
  • ½ English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 6-8 sheets of nori (seaweed sheets)
  • 1 package of lobster or crab flavoured fish (or the real thing if you live near the ocean)
  • you could also use: avocado, carrots, tuna, cream cheese, smoked salmon, green onions, jalapenos, sprouts

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp (or more) sriracha (I used 3 or 4 teaspoons, but I tasted as I went)

Cook that rice however you usually do. I use a rice cooker because I have a tendency to wander off and burn rice if I use the stove (generally, I get involved in a book and then I’ve burned it – not my fault it takes so long).

While the rice is cooking, cut up your vegetables and make the dipping sauce…..or go read a book. 🙂

When the rice is done, mix in the rice vinegar and sort of fluff things up to help the rice cool. Hot rice makes the nori a little too pliable, not to mention can burn your hands.

You can roll your sushi now, or you can just make it into a bowl. It will taste good either way.

If you want to brave it but you don’t have a bamboo mat, you can use a gallon size ziploc bag or a piece of plastic wrap or even a piece of parchment paper – as long as it’s a little bigger than the sheet of nori, you should be good. You don’t even have to have any of that, they just help to not tear the nori because all the pressure goes onto them, not the seaweed sheet.

Whichever way you do this, you will need to lay a sheet of nori, shiny side facing down and landscape not portrait. Grab a scoop of rice and spread it with the back of a spoon (you can use your hands, but I’ve done that and you have to keep wetting your hands, then your nori gets wet and rips). Spread it from side to side and bottom (nearest you) to 1 inch from the top. That top margin is where the roll will meet it and the whole thing will seal.

About ½ an inch from the bottom, lay out your bell pepper strips in a thin line and some cucumber matchsticks on top of the pepper strips or right beside. Add some of your fish.

Now, however you’re doing this, you need to bring the bottom of the nori sheet up from the bottom, over the filling to be tucked down right after the filling. Pull it in as tight as you can, then roll, tuck, roll, tuck, roll until you’ve got everything all rolled up tight.

I don’t know if there’s any way to get the ends of the rolls tighter…I never seem to manage it, but I just consider it the chef’s snack.

Do this until you run out of rice or filling or sheets. I always run out of rice first. 🙂

You need to cut the sushi rolls into smaller rounds – you will want them bite sized. Trying to bite them in half will just result in filling everywhere but in your mouth.

While you are cutting, you will need to wipe your knife blade with a damp cloth or paper towel to keep it clean. If you don’t, the sticky rice will gum up the blade and your lovely rolls will fall to pieces. Still edible, but not very pretty and darn hard to dip.

When this is all said and done, you just need to put some on a plate, add some dip on the side or use a spoon and trail some sauce over the rounds.

This seems like a lot of steps, but ultimately, it really isn’t. Cook the rice, cut the vegetables, make the sauce, cool the rice, spread the rice, add the filling, roll and cut. The first time you do this, it will probably take far longer than any time after that, simply because you’re getting the hang of it. After that, easy breezy, no time at all.

It probably took about 20 minutes to cook the rice and about that same amount of time to roll the 6 or 7 sushi rolls I did (I didn’t count – I was too excited).

As much fussing as this seems to be, I do this because then I know what is in it and how old my ingredients are – convenience store sushi, anyone? Nori that’s been sitting with filling it it gets a little….bleh and that, other than the raw fish thing, is what made me turn up my nose to sushi. This really is so much better.

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