I adore alliteration, don’t you?
Countrygirl asked if I had any secrets to sushi making. Yes and no. Of course, if they were secret, I wouldn’t be telling, but I don’t keep cooking secrets. I think it would be rude of me to keep things like that secret.
Let’s see. First, get a good sushi rice. We buy one that doesn’t need rinsing, but if you get one that isn’t prerinsed, make sure you follow the instructions carefully. The rice needs to be fully cooked but still have a texture to it. We cook 2 cups of rice and that makes about 10 full rolls of regular rolled sushi. Then we cook another 2 cups and make 10 more full rolls. Yes, that is a lot of sushi, but when we eat sushi, we EAT sushi.
Experiment with the vinegar mix. We like ours a little more salty than sweet and other’s prefer a bit more sweeter.
Make sure you prepare everything that you’re putting in the sushi before hand. I guarantee that you won’t have time to cut cucumber, pepper, avocado and whatever else you’re putting in the rolls in the time it takes to cook up the rice. Well, maybe you will of you’re either really good with a knife or not particular about missing fingers. I, however, am slow and like having my bits and body parts remain attached, so I prep everything before hand.
I sprinkle sesame seeds on each roll after I press down the rice. If you are allergic or don’t like them, then don’t put them in. But since I was asked about my sushi, you get sesame seeds. It also doesn’t matter if they’re brown or black seeds. Black seeds are really nice looking on California rolls with the rice on the outside of the nori. However, I don’t make them because I lack the skill and patience to clean up from making them.
Unless you’re able to get hold of sushi grade raw fish, use cooked fish/seafood. While I could get sushi grade raw fish from a fishmonger here in town (and it’s guaranteed to be sushi grade), it’s expensive (because it’s flown in fresh that day and sometimes still alive and swimming) and I’m a coward and fairly unknowledgable about fish so daren’t take the chance. I use cooked shrimp, genuine-real-fake-crab-flavoured-pollack or steam some frozen fish. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve seen sushi of smoked salmon with cream cheese wraps. Since I’m not that wild about salmon and even less so about smoked salmon I didn’t try it, but Boy thought it was the best thing since the shrimp rolls.
Use the best, freshest vegetables you can find. Avocado, when it’s perfectly ripe, adds a marvelous texture and fabulous taste. I soak mine in lemon juice so it keeps it’s colour. The lemon juice goes marvelously with any of the fish/seafood that you might try…well, except maybe smoked salmon.
Oh, and remember, if you use all green vegetables with green nori you will poop green. That might be TMI, but it’s something to keep in mind, especially if your kids are eating it and then think that they’re rotting inside. That happened when I made sushi wraps with avocado, cucumber (with the skin), green pepper and par-cooked asparagus. They were wonderful tasting though.
Make sure you have more than one rolling map. If you’re like me, you’ll end up with rice and veggie bits (especially ripe avocado) in the roller. That can mess up your rolls on the outside. Having more than one mat means that you can change the mat and wash one up and it’ll dry some before you need to change again.
Make all the rolls that you’re going to make, leaving them whole until you’re done rolling. This will keep everything nice and fresh. Sushi rice starch dries to a texture similar to pablum. In other words, it gets the same qualities of concrete. So cleaning your counter as you work is a good thing.
Always have a large bowl of water to wet your hands in order to handle the rice. Cooked sushi rice sticks like it’s been superglued to dry hands. So when you’re handling the rice and pressing it onto the nori, make sure your hands are wet. The same thing goes for the knife when you’re cutting the rolls into pieces. The knife will work much better and collect far less starch if it’s kept wet.
Keep the sushi that you’ve made covered at all times.
Leftover sushi that is cold tastes ok, but it’s really better if it’s only cool. So if you’re going to nosh out on some cold, leftover sushi, nuke it for a few seconds in the microwave, only long enough to take the cold edge off. It’ll taste better and the rice’s texture will soften.
Make sure you buy Japanese soy sauce for dipping. Chinese soy is darker, more salty and stronger in flavour. Japanese soy is lighter and more delicate in flavour and compliments the flavours in the sushi – whether the sushi is all veg, meat, or a mix of veg/meat/seafood – and also carries the flavour of the wasabi better while still maintaining it’s own flavour. Chinese soy totally overwhelms the wasabi. When you consider the robust flavour of wasabi, you get an idea of the strength of Chinese soy.
Don’t buy prepared wasabi. Get the powder. Prepared stuff will nearly always have more than just water in it and that will always change the purity of the flavour.
Remember to have pickled ginger available. It goes with sushi like bread with butter. I adore pickled ginger.
There’s my hints about sushi making. I’m sure there are other people who are far more expert than I on the finer points of making sushi. Oh, make sure you get at least one sushi recipe book. It’ll have instructions on cooking the rice, making the vinegar mix, preparing different stuffings, rolling techniques and such. A really good one will have lots and lots of pictures to help you along. I watched a couple of television shows. The most helpful was East Meets West with Ming Tsai. He had the camera go in close to show how the rolling was done. He even did California (rice on the outside) rolls, but I’m a bit too messy for that one yet.