New Year's Resolution # 6: Make More Sushi!
After traveling around Japan, I developed a love for Sushi. Well, almost all Japanese food actually. You may be surprised to know; however, that the "California Roll" is named that for a reason. It was born in California. Ichiro Mashita, a sushi chef at the Tokyo Kaikan restaurant in LA invented the rolls in the early 1970's.
Traditionally, California Rolls consist of avocado, cucumber and crab meat. However, if you're like me and aren't a huge fan of spider-like crustaceans, I recommend trying this vegetarian version of the California Roll. Alternatively, you could use imitation crab meat or cooked shrimp in place of the crab.
Getting sushi rice right can be a challenge. I've gone through my fair share of it in attempts to master the art. Rice vinegar, sugar and salt is a mixture referred to as Awase-zu and is the seasoning added to cooked sushi rice. Finding the right ratio between these simple ingredients is key. Also, it is very important to properly wash, rinse and drain the rice which in turn can seem tedious and time consuming, but essential for good results. I guarantee, once you get the hang of it, your kitchen will become your new "sushi place"!
I hope everyone had great New Year!
I leave you with a picture of me dressed as a Geisha in Kyoto, Japan. A beautiful city that I hope to return to one day.
Makes approximately 5 Rolls (between 35 and 40 pieces)
Note: I highly recommend using a rice cooker to make sushi rice as it produces the best results at the click of a button.
For the rice:
3 cups raw sushi rice
3 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup plain rice vinegar
2 tbls superfine (caster) sugar
1 tsp salt
For the filling:
5 toasted nori sheets
1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 English cucumber, cut into long spears
1-2 carrots, peeled and julienned
About 1 tbls each of black and white sesame seeds
Cooked shrimp or crab (optional)
Bamboo rolling mat
Wooden rice paddle
Place rice into a large bowl and fill with cold water. Stir briskly with your hands and pour away the cloudy water. Repeat this process 5 or 6 more times or until the water runs clear. Next, drain the rice in a colander for about 30 minutes.
Once the rice is drained, tip into a rice cooker and set to cook. Once the cooker bleeps, let the rice sit for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Place the hot rice into a large, shallow, nonmetallic bowl. I use a large baking dish. Spread out the rice and slowly add the vinegar mixture. While adding the vinegar mixture, mix the rice with a wooden paddle using quick cutting strokes. While mixing the rice in a slicing motion you will need to fan it with your other hand. I use a large circular lid to do this. Fanning will cool the rice and help it to produce a wonderful glossy shine.
Cover the rolling mat completely with cling film (plastic wrap). This makes the mat easier to clean.
Lay one nori sheet onto the rolling mat. Using wet hands, evenly spread a portion of the rice over the nori sheet, leaving 3/4 inch visible at the end furthest away from you. Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds and carefully turn the sheet over. Place the cucumber, carrot and avocado in the center of the sheet. At the base of the mat, start to roll over the ingredients, pressing firmly as you go. Once you have formed a log shape, lift up mat and apply gentle pressure back and forth to ensure the roll is firmly molded.
Using a very sharp, wet knife, trim the ends of the roll and cut into thick slices. Repeat process with the remaining nori sheets and ingredients. Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi.