What I’m about to say is a big statement.
You know. You’ve been reading this blog. You can see the massive, zoomed-in, shining hulk of phyllo pastries in the banner graphic. You can read the title. You know by now, you smart cookie, that this is the blog of a diehard foodie.
But, of all the fruits and cheeses, all the peanut butter-laden desserts, all the delightful pastas and delectable crustaceans, all the cupcakes and enchiladas and curries, one food dares to rise above the rest as my favorite, forever and ever, amen.
Sushi is without a doubt my favorite food. I could eat it every day with a big, stupid, drooly-gross grin on my face and wasabi in my hair (it’s happened before). If I am ever pregnant, it will be hard for me to not hold a grudge against my future child for life for keeping me from eating it for nine months. I would climb mountains, swim across seas, walk through fire, swim across seas of fire with mountains in them… you name it. I would go Gollum for sushi, right down to jumping into Mount Doom and desperately holding it up to try and save it from the flames.
But let’s hope it never comes to that.
Sushi is, for me, just an all-around feel-good eating experience. The flavors are bright and fresh, using chopsticks makes it fun to eat, and I just feel so good after I eat sushi–the lean-protein-to-carb ratio is a recipe for solid energy and good vibes.
And luckily for me, it’s easy and fun to make! It can also be pretty cheap if you go fishless and decide to rock it out veggie style.
How to Make It
So, dear readers, because I love you so much and want you to experience
My Precious the joy too, here’s a step by step tutorial for those of you who have never made it.
- Cook your sushi rice and season it properly (don’t skip this step!). Prep all ingredients (slice vegetables into thin strips, cut fish, etc) and have them handy nearby.
- Lay a piece of nori (seaweed) on a clean cutting board, shiny side down. Some people like to use a bamboo rolling mat. I find I work better without it.
- Plop several spoons’ worth of rice onto the seaweed. It should look like this (wine included :D).
- Spread rice into an even layer all over the nori, except for a one inch-wide strip at the top. Your rice should be a couple to a few grains thick and cover almost all of your seaweed. The rice will be sticky, so it helps to have a small dish of water nearby–this process is much easier with wet fingers!
- Select your ingredients. Put them in a relatively compact row about an inch to an inch and a half from the bottom of your sheet of nori.
- Now it gets a little bit tricky. From here, pick up the bottom edge of the nori with your forefinger and thumb. Then, use all your other fingers to tightly hold the ingredients in place as you begin to roll the bottom edge up and forward.
- Keep tucking the ingredients in. Don’t be shy–you really have to push them in! Once that bottom edge has come to a full circle and is touching the rice again, keep slowly rolling it up, all the while continually tucking it tighter and tighter as you move forward.
- When your roll looks like the one in the picture above, stop rolling for just a minute. Hold it in place with one hand, and wet the fingers of the other. Next, dab the water all along that one-inch, rice-free section at the top of your nori. It should be evenly wet without being soaked through. Then, roll your sushi roll all the way up to the top of your nori, still carefully tightening and tucking as you go along. Press firmly along the wet section so it will seal. Resist the urge to eat it just like that, burrito-style (it’s happened before).
- Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into half-inch pieces. If your knife gets gummy with rice residue, rinse it with warm water before continuing. Done! Hurray!
Put Stuff in It
When deciding what ingredients to include, you can decide just how traditional you want your sushi to be, and stick to straight-up Japanese style or add a little American flair. I like both. I love sticking to the basics like a plain tekka maki with perfect ingredients, and I also like making up new, interesting rolls.
Basic ingredients (stick to just one-three maximum for traditional rolls):
- shrimp (good for first-timers)
- bell pepper
- sesame seeds
- fish roe
- lemon or lime juice
- sweet chili sauce (like this one)
- tempura crunchies
- cracked black pepper
- cilantro or other herbs
- Other ideas? Comment! I wants them!
The night I did the tutorial photos, I was making sushi with my parents. Somehow, we had the fun and silly idea of coming up with a roll for each of us. I was charged with the task of making up a “Kate” roll, a “Norm” roll (yes, my father’s name is Norm Peterson, and the “Cheers” references will never cease!), and a “Mary” roll based on our personalities and tastes.
The Kate roll: I was going for bright, fresh, texturally interesting and slightly unexpected (just like me!). I ended up with salmon, red bell pepper, and avocado, garnished with ultra-thin sliced lemon with most of the rind removed and a dash of cracked black pepper.
The Norm roll: The goal here was warm, friendly, and simple, with an international twist (for my travel guru dad). This one had ahi tuna, carrot, red bell pepper, and a sprinkling of curry powder.
The Mary roll: Sweet (but not too sweet, as it is a savory dish), subtly complex, and comforting (aww–I love you mom!). I used yellowtail (hamachi), avocado, sesame seeds, and the tiny strips of lemon rind I cut off the lemon for the Kate roll.
Please do tell–what would be in your recreation-of-self roll?
Do Your Reading
I picked up The Story of Sushi, by Trevor Corson, for a plane ride in college. It’s now one of my all-time favorite food books. Corson followed a class through the California Sushi Academy and details the experience. The result combines instruction, the (absolutely fascinating) history of sushi, the ins & outs of the business, some fun personal stories from the chefs, and even the science of why sushi tastes good to the human palette. If you are interested in sushi, if you’re curious about its history, or even if you just don’t want to look like a tool in a sushi restaurant, I highly recommend this book!
In other news, I’m in Boise now! I drove down yesterday, and I must say, driving eight hours with a carload of stuff is so much easier than packing your life into two forty-five pound suitcases and flying halfway across the world. My TA orientation starts tomorrow and class starts in one week!
Speaking of which, I had better stop drooling over raw
and wrrrrrriggling fish and get to work. Have a great Sunday and nom on!
Ciao for niao,