Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On the Menu: Japanese Food

Sushi anyone?

I remember growing up when sushi was so exotic and (to me) disgusting sounding!  Raw fish?  Wrapped in seaweed? No thanks.  But these days, you see sushi restaurants all over the place, even the supermarkets sell sushi!  And you know what?  It's good!  I'm not very adventurous with the raw fish because, well, I don't even like cooked fish very much, but I will eat the shrimp and eel and crab rolls.  I found out that in Japan these rolls are considered "filler" for the main course of sashimi (raw fish).  I guess I should at least try sashimi one day.  Be brave Jenny.  But not today, today we are making vegetable sushi :) 

Sushi is actually very easy to make and people are always really impressed.  Well, probably not Japanese people because they know it's easy!  The most time consuming part is making the rice.  You need short grain rice.  The newer the better, so if you see "new crop" on the bag, buy that.  The rice is also where the food gets it's name.  Su = vinegar and meshi = rice, so over time this got contracted into the word sushi.  With the rice made, the next step is getting your other ingredients.  You'll need nori, which is a paper thin sheet of black seaweed.  These are usually pretty easy to find in the Asian section of your supermarket.  There are many options for fillings (neta) but freshness and quality are important.  Like I said, I'm not very adventurous so I'm playing it safe and only using vegetables.  Go online for some other great options if you are braver than I. 

There are different types of sushi.  Maki sushi is the rolled sushi with nori (seaweed) and a variety of fillings.  Nigiri sushi is a mound of rice with seafood draped over the top.  Temaki is also called a hand roll because the nori is shaped into a cone with the fillings inside.  As the name suggests, it is eaten with your hands.  Inari sushi is a fried tofu pouch filled with the seasoned rice.  

I think we are ready to begin.  I call this maki sushi roll the.....

Jenny Roll
For the recipe you will need

  • sushi mat or piece of plastic wrap
  • 1 1/2 cups of short grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • seasoned rice vinegar (if you don't have seasoned- add 3 T sugar and 1 T salt to 4 T vinegar)
  • nori sheets
  • sesame seeds
  • carrots- shredded
  • avocado- sliced
  • cucumber- sliced into matchsticks
  • gari (pickled ginger)
  • sesame oil
  • sugar
1.  Wash the rice to get some of the starches off and then cook in rice cooker if you have one, or pot if you don't.  The rice should be firm but cooked through. 
2.  I like marinated carrots in mine so while your rice is cooking put a handful of shredded carrots in a bowl with some rice vinegar, a few drops of sesame oil and about a teaspoon of sugar.
3.  When your rice is cooked, put it in large bowl and add about 4 T of rice vinegar and fold into rice.  Try not to mush it up.
4.  Place sushi mat on table.  Lay a piece of nori on top.  With wet hands grab some warm rice and press it into a thin layer on the top of the nori.  Try to get it even and not too thick.
5.  Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the rice.
 Lay your ingredients on top in a row about an inch from one end  of the nori.  I like to put my pickled ginger in the rolls along with the carrots, avocado, and cucumber.
6. Lift up the end of the mat nearest your fillings and bring it over your fillings.  This starts the roll.  Squeeze it tight.
7.  Move the mat out of your way a little at a time as you roll away from you.  When the roll is all rolled up cut off the rough ends. 

8.  At this point you can slice it up and eat it with some soy sauce and wasabi (super spicy) mixed together or you can wrap it in plastic wrap and make some more.  This recipe should make about 4 rolls. 

My brother is "anti-sushi" because he says he hates the seaweed aspect of it, so I found these great soy wrappers. 
They are so pretty and I found they work great as low- carb sandwich wraps or crepes.  He experimented on some sushi of his own design, and I must say they were really good!  Take my recipe above except use cooked bacon as the nori and a hot dog as the filling and leave out all the vegetables.  Roll and slice and you've got a tasty treat - Bacon and hot dog sushi.  Not very healthy but pretty darn tasty!! 

We called his roll
the Heart Attack!!

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