The first time I made sushi was in about 2004 at my friend Danny’s apartment. To be honest, I am not sure that I had ever eaten before, or certainly not often. But that was a special time in my life when I was more adventurous than usual, so I decided to give it a try. There were probably 20 or more people cramped into his tiny apartment. Some people had experience making sushi, while others did not. I believe that Ian prepared the rice. I later got the recipe from him, and have been using it ever since, stored in a Word document on my computer. I decided to finally release it to the masses.
When most people hear sushi they think of raw fish. However, sushi actually means “vinegared rice”. While sushi frequently includes raw fish, it certainly does not have to, and there are lots of great alternatives. If you do like fish, I recommend smoked salmon, since it is easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and does not require as much care as raw fish.
It does take a fair amount of work to do all the preparation, so I don’t make it often, but it does make for a fun party. It is also relatively cheap to make, especially if you make a trip to the local Asian market for ingredients like rice, nori, and pickled ginger. The only equipment you really need is a bamboo mat. I recommend getting two, so that two people can make rolls in parallel.
Here are several ideas for rolls
The Spencer Roll
- Sweet potato
- Barbecue Sauce
Salmon cream cheese roll
- Smoked salmon
- Cream cheese
The Meg Roll
- Red Pepper
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium sweet potato (baked, mashed, and cooled)
- 1/2 large red bell pepper
- 1 package Smoked tofu
- 4 ounces smoked salmon
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- Gomasio ((toasted sesame seeds))
- 10-15 sheets Nori ((seaweed))
- soy sauce
- Pickled ginger
- 2 bamboo mats (2 so that you can work in parallel)
Strain the rice
- In order to prevent your rice from being too sticky, it is important to rinse it. Simply put it into a sieve, put the sieve in the pot you are going to cook it in, and then fill it with cold water. Work the rice with your hands a bit. Lift the rice out of the water. You will notice it is milky. That is the starch. Get rid of this, and rinse once or twice more, until the water is mostly clear.
Cooking the rice
- Use a heavy bottom medium size pot , add rice and water. Cover and heat over medium boil for 2 minutes, turn down the heat to medium and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and cook for 15 minutes or till water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let stand on burner, with pot lid wrapped in a kitchen towel for 10-15 minutes.
Vinegar sushi dressing
- Dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar over low heat. Force cool to room temperature by placing the bowl of ingredients in a bath of water and ice.
Preparing the rice
- Mix the vinegar dressing with the rice using a wooden paddle or silicone spatula. Spoon the rice onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. This will make it easier to transfer the rice to the seaweed
Preparing the filling
- Bake the sweet potato at 375 F for about an hour. Let it cool for awhile, then remove the peel and mash the sweet potato. Cut up the vegetables and tofu into long thin strips.
Assembling the rolls
- Place a sheet of Nori on the bamboo mat, with the shinier side down, and the perforations aligned with the strings of the bamboo mat. Transfer some of the rice onto the nori, flattening it out a bit more as you transfer. Leave a little bit of space at the bottom of the nori, but make sure to get it all the way to the sides. Fill the sheet about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to the top. Add the toppings you want. Avoid the temptation to put too much filling in. Finish with a sprinkle of gomasio.
- Start rolling by rolling up the bamboo mat. After you have rolled it up about one half of a turn, start rolling using the nori. Try to wrap it tightly. Once you have wrapped it almost all the way, dip your fingers in the bowl of cold water and wet the last part of the roll, and then finish rolling, and press down to seal it.
- Let the roll sit for a few minutes before slicing it into pieces with a very sharp knife.
- Serve with wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger