One of our goals for this week was to each create a blog post your reading pleasure. When this came up, I (Mike) instantly jumped up and passionately proclaimed that we would make sushi, and that it would be my blog post.
The first thing I did was create a list of the different types of sushi and accouterments I wanted at my party (in this case, a party for one). I decided to make nigiri (the type of sushi usually consisting of a lump of rice with a hunk of veg or protein attached), maki (your standard assorted rolls), miso soup, and a miniature rice bowl. I surveyed my ingredients and decided that I could make nigiri featuring avocado, marinated tofu, zucchini, and some no-tuna pate. The rolls would be an assortment of whatever I had around, and the rice bowl would include some chives, avocado, tamari, and assorted spices.
The usual condiments for sushi include soy sauce, wasabi paste, and pickled ginger. I had a small amount of pickled ginger on hand, but I really wanted to take another crack at preparing it from scratch. A little research led me to some interesting information. Apparently there is a reason why pickled ginger is often dyed pink. Traditionally, only young ginger was used for the condiment. This ginger was shaved thinly and then salted and massaged. After letting it sit for a length of time, boiling vinegar and sugar was poured over the ginger. This is where the magic happens – apparently a chemical reaction happens between the salted ginger and the boiling vinegar that causes it to turn slightly pink! The chemist in me loves tidbits like this. We won’t go through quite that much effort to pickle our ginger, but I did have a healthy way to dye it pink, using our good friend the beet.
- Proper sushi requires short-grained rice. Cook the rice using 1 cup of rice to 1 1/4 cups of water.
- When the rice in done you will need a mixture containing rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. I would use 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Stir this into the rice.
- For most sushi rolls, spread the rice very thinly on the nori sheet, covering just over one half of the sheet (more for a fatter roll, less for a thinner roll).
- Place the fillings on the rice in a neat little pile, keeping each item together.
- A bamboo mat is not required for rolling. Carefully wrap the nori and rice around the fillings, trying to keep the roll nice and tight.
- While rolling, lightly dampen the end of the nori sheet to help it stick and close properly.
- The most common problem people run into while rolling sushi is that the rice does not ring around the food perfectly. This all just comes down to practice. Delicious practice. I am actually incredibly proud of myself that my rolls turned out so well.
- For nigiri, cut a nori sheet with scissors into thin ribbons and dampen them slightly. It can take a few tries to get the ribbons looking nice and not cracking.
The first of my sushi rolls is a fairly standard veggie roll with tofu, chives, carrot, beet, cucumber, and avocado.
This second rolls uses shredded kale instead of rice as the base. Very delicious. Fillings are similar to the above roll.
The other rolls present include a simple cucumber roll with a squirt of sriracha and a roll created using the no-tuna pate. I meant to include the pate in the other rolls, but I completely forgot about it. Oh well.
One thing you may notice right away is that this sushi party involves a lot of food. Probably almost enough for two people. One of the best parts about eating sushi is the variety on the table in front of you. In light of this, I always like to create a bunch of different things, and then save some leftovers for the next day. I even ate my leftovers for breakfast!
During every sushi party there tends to come a point where you get tired and annoyed and you curse the very thought of making sushi. This usually occurs about ten minutes before you get to put the first piece in your mouth. But oh man, once that first piece hits your taste buds (and the wasabi hits your sinuses), you know it was all worth it, and you will totally do it again. Have a good one, friends.