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Monday, May 19, 2008

Simple Sushi

Quiz: What does sushi mean? Most people get this wrong. They say raw fish. Sushi means pickled rice, or rice in a vinegar sauce, which is how you pickle something.

If you have never tried it, consider trying it. It is made out of very good things. What most people taste and say 'blech!' to the first time is the nori, or the green roll on the outside. Nori is a sea vegetable and can take a little getting used to, but is so worth the effort because it is loaded with iodine. Good iodine, not the junk they use to treat table salt. If you have trouble with anemia or kidney infections, this will be a great help. We also buy nori flakes that we can sprinkle on just about anything. If you crave salt often, nori will knock the craving out for you. I keep sea vegetable chips by Eden on hand for my salt-savory days.

To make a sushi roll, you will need nori sheets, sushi rice, and fillings. The sushi nori comes in paper-thin sheets. Before you even start, taste the nori by itself so that you know the flavor when you come across it in the sushi roll. On the back of my nori package is the recipe for the sushi rice, but you can also find many variations online. Because we try to avoid white sugar we make ours with turbinado and barley malt, and you can try out different vinegars and sweeteners after you are comfortable. The first time, though, follow the directions. When your rice is done, the hard part is over (and making the rice isn't even that hard!).

Sushi snobs will tell you that you need a boatload of fancy equipment. To show you just how untrue that is, I have made it here for you without any of the sushi 'schtuff'. A bamboo mat is nice for rolling it tight, but you can do a great job on a plate or table. Place rice on the sheet of nori. Start out small and add more if you need it. Push the rice down and out to the edges of the sheet- except one of the short edges, where you will leave a 1/4" gap for rolling purposes. Sushi sets come with a spatula for this job, but I did it here with a sandwich baggie on my hand.

Here is where the sushi gets personal. If you DO want raw fish, slice it very thin (sashimi). Otherwise the possibilities are endless. You can get the imitation crab that comes in sticks, pickled Japanese vegetables, or use any long vegetable slices (something like carrot should be cooked or you will have a hard time biting through). We generally have vegetarian sushi because it is a side dish for a meat. Our favorite simple combo is avocado and seedless cucumber. If you use regular cucumber, cut out the seeds. Place your stuffings on the rice-covered short end and start rolling. Roll as tight as you can. You will end up with a log. Slice this into sections using a sharp knife (I think I get 6-8 slices per roll). Ta-da!

If you want to get really fancy, there is inside-out sushi, where the rice is on the outside. There is also hand-formed sushi logs without the nori that are piggie-backed with splayed shrimp or crab tied on with a green onion. I like to go to the Chinese place and get the ones that have just a little roe on them. I don't like the roe, but it is one of those things that is very good for you. When it is used as a garnish, you get the benefit without the taste. Sushi is a good way to get things down that you don't particularly like. I don't like avocado by itself, but I don't taste it in the sushi. You can also buy colored sesame seeds to garnish (I put them on the fish here so you could see) and the sushi is generally served with ginger and wasabi, thought you don't have to have either. I love wasabi (the green paste on the plate there). It is a very hot root vegetable. For me, it opens up the sinuses and awakens the taste buds so that I really experience the medley of flavors. My husband can't eat it without sneezing a couple dozen times.

You can eat by hand or serve with chopsticks. My kids are very proficient at chopsticks. Well....most of my kids! ;) The baby is still working on it.


Dawn said...

My hubby likes this stuff...
Me however...I think I will pass. :)
There is this Korean(?) food I love called bulgogi (sp?) and it's sooooooooooooooo good on top of white rice!

Have a blessed Tuesday!

~ Dawn ~

a soldier's wife said...

I love Sushi....but I've never been brave enough to try to make it :) After reading this, I really want to try my hand at it :)