Welllll I wanted to get another poem post up (are you poem-ed out? Because there are actually two more poem posts on deck: the kids’ finals. They’re really as much for my own personal archives as anything but they really are cute and I expect you’d derive a bit of enjoyment. But that annoying thing has happened where I fill up all the space in my blog and I don’t feel like setting up a new account right now. Plus I’d already uploaded these photos so I figure I might as well get this post out of the way. More food blogging!)
Back in China there were a few delicious Japanese restaurants. Two, to be exact, right next to one another. (In Jiaxing, that is. Not the whole of China. In case anyone was confused.) You could order à la carte, or pay the equivalent of $30 for all you can eat and drink, which inevitably ended in too much sushi and sake, and a terrible hangover the next day. Sometimes the two would be split up by a rowdy session of KTV.
Though $30 might strike any of you over in the Western world as chump change, in China it was a relative bundle and such occasions were normally reserved for payday. But once a month is just not enough for two sushi fiends like Wayne and myself! And when we saw that nori sheets were available at the big international grocery store, we thought we might be onto something.
Our recipe is kind of a compilation of a number of things we ran into online, with some of our own innovation. And here it is.
First, collect your ingredients.
though they seem like an exotic requirement, i’ve had no problem finding nori sheets in china, the states, or thailand. check in the asian foods section and i bet they’re there. also, the ingredients are pretty much up to you. smoked salmon is a bit of an indulgence for us, and is normally left out. we go for avocados whenever they’re available. i’ve used steamed shrimp with pleasing results. if you can get sashimi-grade anything at your supermarket i say go for it (with maybe a hint of envy in my tone)!
Second: Prepare the rice. We’ve really embraced our Asian surroundings and bought a rice cooker; stovetop is also fine. There are probably directions on the package. If our rice looks funny it’s because it is. And though I’m sure germinated brown rice is just loaded with benefits it also was pretty finicky sushi rice. I’d say use just regular ol’ white rice, and do yourself a favor by soaking it 10 minutes before cooking– it’ll get nice and sticky!
Third: While the rice is cooking, prepare your veg. Basically cut everything into strips. I like mine as thin as possible; it just makes the rolling easier. Toss them in a bowl with some lemon juice and salt just to keep things nice and fresh.
Fourth: When the rice has finished, stir up some vinegar and brown sugar, then mix it into the rice. Wayne always gets frustrated with me, and you might too, since I don’t really have exact measurements for this . It’s really up to you… when it’s all mixed together it should have a nice tangy but slightly sweet flavor, and I imagine at least the sugar just makes the rice a tad stickier.
Fifth: Lay a nori sheet on a flat, dry surface shiny side down. Many recipes suggest using bamboo mats underneath to aid in the rollin process, and I’m sure if I ever had one and used it it would be a life-changing experience. As things stand, I’ve never had or used one, and things have gone pretty well.
Sixth: Spread the rice mixture over about 2/3 of the sheet.
Seventh: Layer your fillings across the rice. Right in the middle or just a bit closer to you usually makes for easier rolling.
Eighth: Roll ‘er up. I won’t lie and tell you this won’t be a little tricky the first few times. It would probably be best to start with a more sparsely-filled roll til you get the hang of it. Just do your best to keep it tight and even as you go.
Ninth: Cut ‘er up. Five cuts for six pieces seems to be the standard. A sharp, serrated knife comes in real handy for this portion. Also I think it’s best to make all the rolls first, then get to slicin’. For some reason it’s easier when they’ve rested for a bit.
Tenth: Make yourself a wasabi (also available in the Asian foods section)/soy sauce mixture, serve, and enjoy!
Sorry once again for not having real measurements (I told you I was bad at this stuff…). A cup of dry rice is usually enough for four rolls, which I think is good for two people (I can easily put away two rolls). Like I said, the ingredients are kind of up to you. I think I used one whole carrot, one whole cucumber, and half a pepper for these. Go wild! Who knew sushi was so easy?