Tuesday, January 20, 2009
How To Roll Your Own Sushi
I know it's been a few months since we talked sushi, but ask and ye shall receive! After reading this, you can impress your friends by rolling your own sushi! Your friends and family will think you are the hippest person they know! And you don't even have to tell them how SIMPLE it is to make your own!
For those of you who are Sushi purists, GO AWAY! This will most likely frustrate and infuriate you! I'm not going to do everything perfectly and I'm NOT using raw fish. First, I don't think it's safe to work with raw fish at home, unless you have a bona-fide source of sushi-grade fish. Second, I don't like the texture of raw fish (and I've tried them all), so I make California Rolls.
And that, my friends, is how I roll--pun intended. HAHA Oh man, I kill myself sometimes...
It's very important that you gather all the proper specialty hardware for sushi making before you begin.
Yep, that's it. Pretty much everything else you can buy at larger grocery stores. I think you all can handle the 99 cents this bamboo mat costs. I bought mine at the Asian Market in my town.
While I was there, I picked up a few items I needed for the sushi because it has to taste better if you buy it there, right?? I spent about $10 on Nori paper, sushi rice vinegar, pickled ginger, and wasabi powder. All things that you can find in larger grocery stores. Don't be intimidated when you go into your asian market. If you have a hard time finding what you are looking for (because a LOT of it isn't labelled in english), just ask!
I didn't buy my sushi rice at the Asian Market because the smallest amount of sushi rice there was something like a 50 lb bag. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not much of one. You can see right on the bag that I bought my rice at Meijer's (a Michigan institution much like a Super Wal-Mart) for a whopping $2.39. The rice is the most important part of your sushi, so get it right! I've had very good results with this rice, so I'd definitely recommend it!
Just follow the directions on the back of the bag. Some people say to rinse the rice before you put it in the pan, but I'm WAY too lazy to do that! It worked just fine without rinsing it.
See!! No special skills needed yet!
While your rice is cooking, prepare your other ingredients. Since we're doing a California roll, you'll need Crab with a K, cucumber, and avocado. The smoked salmon is my lame attempt to appease my husband, who likes the raw fish kind of sushi. He'll eat it all and loves all of it!!
In fact, one night my husband and I met some friends at a restaurant called Yotsuba for some sushi. After the sushi was brought out, a different waitress came out and asked who ordered the Gizzard Shad. We all pointed to the husband and she said, "We were all wondering who ordered it. Even we don't like it." Apparently, the seasoned sushi waitresses were impressed with what he would eat!!
For easy cleanup, wrap your mat in plastic wrap. If you're cheap like me, use the Target brand.
Next, you'll prepare your sushi vinegar. For the amount of rice that the bag directions prepare (approx. 3 cups), you'll need 1/2 cup of your sushi vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Some people will tell you to put this on the stove and let the sugar and the salt dissolve over medium heat. Well, I'm here to tell you that it simply isn't necessary! I put my vinegar mixture in the microwave for about a minute, then stir, and set aside.
When your rice is finished cooking, dump it into a large bowl. Put the vinegar mixture back into the microwave for about 30 seconds, stir furiously, and pour over the rice.
Grab a wooden spoon and with slicing motion, stir the vinegar into the rice. It's almost the same technique as "folding," but don't tell an Itamae (sushi chef) I said that! So you slice through the middle a few times and then stir. Do this all without squishing the rice grains.
YIKES!! I really need to lotion my alligator hands!
The stirring technique is how you cool the rice. Some people use a fan in their other hand to help cool the rice. That's pretty cool, but I'm too uncoordinated to do that at this point.
Remember when you were a kid? You'd get a cool paper fan that folded out and you ran around fanning yourself like a southern belle saying, "Ah do declay-uh," and opening and shutting the fan while pretend fainting? No? I guess it was just me.
Anyway, once your rice is cooled to room temperature, set a piece of Nori on your plastic covered mat and make sure you have a bowl of water nearby. The water is VERY important, unless you want to have your hands covered in sticky rice. Dip your hands into the water and grab a handful of rice. Continue dipping your hand into the water and pressing the rice onto the paper, leaving just a little room around the outside of the nori paper.
When you've covered your nori with rice, give it one last press down to even out the rice.
Now, lay your roll ingredients on the bottom of the rice.
Lift up the bottom edge of the mat and using your fingers to push in your roll ingredients, roll the end of the paper under the ingredients.
Using all of your fingertips, press the paper under the ingredients and squeeze, almost like you are pushing your fingers to your palms. Then use your whole hand to press the sushi into a square.
Pick up the end of the mat with one hand.
Continue pressing the mat down into the sushi. Use your fingers again to press under the ingredients. This is crucial or your roll will fall apart!
Continue rolling and squeezing gently until the nori is rolled all the way up. Then give it another squeeze into a rectangular shape. You may need to lift up the mat and check to see that the roll is sealed. Then chide yourself again for not keeping your hands well-moisturized.
This is what you should see when you lift up your mat. CONGRATULATIONS! You have just rolled your own sushi!!!
Remember the water you used to keep from getting rice caked on your hands? You're going to use it again to help you cut the sushi roll. Dip the tip of your knife into the water and then tip it back to let the water run down your knife. This helps lubricate (that's a funny word) the knife so it will glide through the sushi.
By the way, have you invested in a set of Wusthof knives? NO??? WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR? About 8 or 9 years ago, I took most of my measley paycheck and bought four knives, kitchen shears, and a block for about $300. My family thought I was crazy, but I have never, ever, EVER regretted my investment! My only regret is that when I visit their houses now, I know how bad their knives suck! I just recently took my knives to get professionally sharpened for the first time. Oh, how I love those dang knives! If you don't want to spend a lot of money, just buy a Chef's Knife or a Santoku Knife.
Start by cutting your roll in half. And whatever you do, don't let your camera strap show!!
Then cut them in half again and then cut until you have pieces that are small enough so you can shove them in your mouth. With this large (futomaki) roll, I like to cut it into 12 pieces.
TA-DAAAAAAAA!!! Now, go roll your own sushi, because this beauty is allllllll miiiiiiiiiiiine!!!