My husband and I have had an appetite for sushi lately. It’s not the type of cuisine I’m familiar with preparing, so I wondered how difficult it would be to recreate. After researching techniques and trying out the methods on my own, I’ve come up with a pretty easy, healthy, impressive dish that’s versatile enough to suit everyone’s tastes.
Sushi is made with a few simple tools and ingredients. To begin with, you will need a makisu, which is a bamboo mat that is used to roll the sushi into a tight even cylinder. On my first attempt, I didn’t have one and used a thick cloth place mat wrapped in plastic wrap. This definitely worked, but the bamboo mat that I tried next was easier to work with. Wrap the makisu completely with plastic wrap so the rice won’t stick to the mat when you are rolling the sushi.
Next, you will need:
sticky sushi rice (1 cup made 3-4 rolls)
nori (sheets of dried seaweed)
fillings (cucumber, avocado, carrots, peppers, imitation crab meat, tuna, calamari, shrimp, etc)
Rinse the sushi rice in cold water until the water runs mostly clear. I do this by pouring the rice into a deep bowl and filling it half way with water. Once the grains have settled, pour off the excess water. Repeat about 6 or 7 times, and the water you pour off should be fairly clear.
Strain as much water off as possible, then combine the rice with 1 and 1/4 cups of water, bringing to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cover the rice. Do not lift the lid, and allow the rice to simmer for 18 minutes. Without lifting the lid, remove the rice from the heat, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. At this point, transfer the rice to a non-metal bowl and let it cool for at least 10 minutes.
Mix 1/4 a cup of rice vinegar with 2 teaspoons of salt and sugar. Drizzle the mixture over the rice, just enough to add some moisture to keep the grains from sticking too tightly and losing their texture. Cut the liquid into the rice with a spatula. Stirring the rice will not distribute the vinegar as evenly and leaves you with a clumpy mess. Next, fan the rice for about 5 minutes (an electric fan is nice). This gives the grains a nice shiny finish.
Take a single sheet of naki and place it shiny side down on your mat.
Before touching the rice, dip your fingers in a bowl of cool water. This keeps the rice from sticking to your fingers. You’ll want to rinse again as you notice the grains sticking again after a minute or so. Take about a half cup of rice in your hand and spread it evenly over the naki. Make sure it reaches the edges, and don’t press too hard.
Next, sprinkle sesame seeds over the entire surface of the rice, followed by a wide stripe of caviar.
I like to start off with a Hosomaki roll, which has the nori on the outside, so you can continue by adding ingredients lengthwise along the stripe of caviar. I thinly sliced avocado, cucumber, and carrots lengthwise, and fried shrimp to stuff my sushi.
The side closest to you should be near the edge of the mat. Lift the edge and flip it over the mound of fillings.
Pull towards you to tightly wrap the roll.
Lift the mat as you turn the roll away from you, wrapping until the last of the sheet is folded into the cylinder. Peel back the mat, and you should have a roll that looks something like this:
Run a sharp knife under water keep a damp towel close by to wipe the blade when necessary. Cut the roll in half, then halve each of the pieces twice, leaving 8 slices of sushi.
Next, I modified this technique to make a Uramaki, or inside out roll. These rolls have the rice on the outside. To do this, you will prepare the naki, shiny side down, just as before. Spread the rice, sesame seeds, and caviar stripe. This time, however, flip the naki over, so the rice is on the bottom. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise in a stripe across the naki, followed by the fillings.
Fold the edge over as before, and roll the sushi up into a cylinder.
Slice into 8 pieces and serve.
Garnish with pickled ginger slices and wasabi paste.