Of all the crazy things I could have done for Super Bowl food this year, I ended up with sushi. The driving factor was that I had a small but pristine piece of salmon from Number 1 Son’s Alaska fishing job sitting in the fridge just begging to become gravlax or something else equally raw and enticing.
Succumbing to the excesses of my kitchen efforts, I also acquired some very nice blue swimming crab meat (in a small tub at the meat counter. . . no lie!) and a couple lovely avocados. Foraging through the veggie drawer revealed some nice scallions, fresh ginger, and cilantro. And I have a lifetime supply of seaweed sheets–leftover from many years ago. A yokatta! (oh good! in Japanese). Fortunately, seaweed sheets store well.
I have never made sushi before (that I recall–despite the amazing amount of seaweed sheets I had accumulated), so I did some research. Here are some good websites:
Low-down on Sushi Rice: Authentic Japanese sushi rice is the koshihikari variety, which is not shipped out of Japan. When we get sushi in US restaurants, it is made with Calrose rice, a variety developed to meet the westerner’s insatiable desire for sushi. You should not use other rice varieties like basmati or jasmine or sticky rice. They will not work The whole point behind sushi is the rice.
Make your rice and add the vinegar and sugar to it. Let it cool naturally, not in the fridge or it will turn out very gelatinous. And, from what I can divine, sushi purists treat the rice like a god: carefully tossing it with the sugar/vinegar and not using metal utensils.
One thing you will want is a real bamboo mat. One of the websites above shows how to do this with a damp dish towel. That sounds good, also. But if you can get your mitts on a mat, so much the better.
–follow the recipes for cooking the rice (1 1/2 C rice to 2 C water). After, add 1/4 C rice vinegar, 1 T sugar, 1 t salt (good to heat this vinegar solution up to ensure dilution). Let cool, and only toss with wooden spoon.
–wrap your mat in plastic wrap.
–put the seaweed with the rough side up. This ensures that the rice sticks.
–use your hands, dunked in water, to grab and place the rice on the nori (seaweed)
–for a regular maki roll, leave 1/2 inch at top of sheet of seaweed uncovered. This is the part that is going to stick to your roll.
— for an inside out roll (rice on the outside. . . think California roll), you will cover the entire seaweed square with rice, then turn upside down on the mat before putting in your fillings.
–put your ingredients into the middle.
–use the mat to roll up the stuff.
–roll into plastic and put in fridge until ready to serve. Then cut: first into halves, then into smaller pieces. A standard seaweed sheet will make 8 slices.
–spicy add-ins are great: siracha mayonnaise, drops of wasabi, sliced jalapeno, cilantro, a couple dribs of teriyaki, etc.
–your inside ingredients should be pretty: square slices of salmon or avocado, brightly colored sliced carrots or peppers, etc.
–soy/Tamari (my preferred) sauce
–pickled ginger (buy or make your own, see below)
Make your own pickled ginger: since much manufactured ginger contains aspertame, you might as well make your own. Peel a knob of ginger, slice thinly (by knife or mandoline). Immerse into a jar and cover with rice vinegar, a bit of salt, and a measure of sugar/honey, etc. You’ll want about twice the ration of vinegar to sugar. Let set for days or a couple hours. Serve on the side of the sushi as a palate cleanser.
Well, there you have it. Go forth, and may the sushi be with you. . . but not for a prolonged time. . .