Monday, August 9, 2010

Sushi in Detail

I will now attempt to explain how to roll sushi, something I have been avoiding for a long time, since I am self-taught (and therefore self-conscious about it) and also still improving my technique. My one suggestion is to get good ingredients and, worst case, you eat a bowl of sushi rice, vegetables, seaweed, and fish.

I try not to beat dead horses but once again I am going to plug New Deal Fish Market. If you live in the greater-Boston area, go there. They have never steered me wrong and their sushi-grade fish selection is outstanding. The key to buying fish in general, and sushi in particular, is that the market should not smell fishy at all. New Deal does not; it smells like the ocean.

The other night my mother-in-law was visiting from Nebraska. She grew up in Maryland and loves seafood. It's very difficult to get fresh fish in her town and so when she comes East, she stocks up on her fish intake for the season. So, naturally, we decided to make her sushi. However, much of the traditional ingredients are not exactly local, so we brainstormed and took advantage of the CSA pick-up that day, and made fairly local, and definitely seasonal, sushi rolls.

Determining amounts is tough for me with sushi. Obviously, you shouldn't do the standard 1/2 lb. fish per person. I like to make sushi and sashimi, too, so I tend to get around 1/4 lb. per person plus a little more. The recipe below overly fed 6 hungry sushi lovers. We used about half the fish for sashimi (unadorned, raw slices) and half for the rolls.

1 lb. sushi-grade, raw salmon
3/4 lb. sushi-grade, raw tuna
1 avocado
1 carrot
1 beet
3 to 4 scallions
1 peach
1 summer squash
1 cucumber
5 to 6 green beans
8 to 10 sprigs cilantro
2 oz. cream cheese cut from block lengthwise
8 to 10 nori sheets or soy sheets, cut in half
8 to 10 servings sushi rice, made according to package instructions
2 to 3 TBSP mirin (found in New Deal, Whole Foods, or other grocery stores)
prepared ginger

Make the rice and when it completely cooked according to package instructions, stir in mirin until the rice is slightly loose but still sticky. Spread it out on a tray to cool.

My two helpers

Cut all vegetables into long, thin sticks.

Slice fish, against grain, into 1/4 inch thick slices. If you are going to have sashimi, too, leave some as is. Otherwise, cut slices into strips for rolls. The rolls can take odd and end pieces, so use the nicest cuts for the sashimi.

Cut cream cheese into thin strips.

Have a bowl of water and a tea towel at hand for rinsing sticky hands. 

Have serving platters ready to put prepared sushi onto.

Have a sharp knife ready.

When everything is cut and laid out in front of you, you are ready to begin filling.

Place a half sheet of nori in front of you. Imagine the nori in divided into 2 halves, top to bottom. With your hands, pick up ~ 1/4 cup rice and evenly spread it on the bottom half of the nori, leaving a one inch strip of nori at the very bottom uncovered. You may need a bit more rice. When it is evenly spread, gently but firmly press down all over rice to flatten it to the nori.

Place whatever fish/vegetable combination you desire in the middle third of the rice strip. My kids adore salmon, avocado, and cream cheese, so I make sure to do a bunch of those. Avoid overstuffing, as it will make rolling difficult. You may want to rinse your fingers if they are sticky from the rice.

Now you are ready to roll. 

Gently roll the bottom edge away from you, towards the top, holding ingredients in as you go. If you have not overstuffed, the un-riced edge on the bottom should meet the un-riced edge at the top and will seal well. If it is too full and you can't get the edges to meet, remove some of the ingredients inside. If the nori won't stick to itself, dampen your fingers slightly with water and use the water as glue.

When it is completely rolled and staying together, take a very sharp knife and slice the roll, lengthwise, into 6 to 8 pieces, each around one inch wide and place on a platter. If you are serving small children, you can cut them slightly thinner, as thicker rolls are difficult for little mouthes. Serve with wasabi, tamari, and ginger.

Continue above directions until you have as many rolls as you want. Keja and I have been enjoying taking the leftover odds and ends of vegetables and fish and making a poke (sort of a salsa-like, salad-esque fish and vegetable mix). It's delicious and a nice addition to the meal. 


Cube all leftover vegetables and fish from above and use the dressing below, or if starting from scratch, use the following:

1 peach (or mango)
1/2 avocado
1 cup sushi-grade, raw fish in any combination
7 sprigs cilantro, chopped

2 teas. toasted sesame oil
2 teas. tamari
2 teas. lemon juice

Chop peach, avocado, and fish (or other vegetables) into 1/4 to 1/3 inch cubes. Place in a bowl. Add dressing, stir gently, and serve.

Sushi rolled and ready to eat!

1 comment:

maamypatom said...

I'm sure I will refer to this column many times until I get my technique down! I just figured out how to make dolmas with my own grape leaves!! Sort of like Greek sushi!