Saturday, 23 February 2008

Extreme Sushi

Perhaps, if you live in London or the middle of the city and wear black pumps and do yoga and read Vogue magazine, sushi isn't a big deal for you. Probably you go to sushi bars for lunch; maybe you order sushi without rice and watch your carbohydrate intake.

I do none of these things (well I do wear black pumps sometimes, but they're in about five pieces and should probably be replaced), and for me, sushi is a big deal. I live in a village consisting solely of about twenty pubs and thirteen old people's homes (no restaurants, or, you know, houses. Just alcohol and senior citizens. A deadly combination) and neither the pubs nor the old people are big sushi fans. So the first time I tried it was when I went to Japan last summer.

The idea of sushi existing in my village is quite radical, so in a rebellious, 'YES I'M EATING SEAWEED, MOO HAR HAR' kind of way I'm pretty proud of these. They're not fantastic in a London-sushi-bar way, and I didn't want to get ambitious with fillings or anything - firstly because their intended audience was largely vegetarian, and secondly because; old people, okay? They'd have had heart attacks and died, and that would be three quarters of the town's population down in one blow. Also thirdly because I would have FAILED. DISMALLY. and I couldn't bear the potential humiliation.

Hosomaki (Slender sushi roll)
Using guidance from Japanese Cooking at Home by Hideo Dekura

For the sushi rice:
150g medium or short grain/sushi rice
120ml rice vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt

1. Cook rice in a pan or rice cooker, then transfer it to a wooden salad/sushi bowl.

2. To make sushi vinegar, combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl; you might need to nuke it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to help the sugar dissolve.

3. Gradually pour the sushi vinegar across the rice, and mix it evenly around the bowl using a wooden spatula or rice paddle in a slicing action. While mixing, cool the rice with a hand fan (I happened to have one!) or you could use a piece of stiff card or something. This helps the rice absorb the vinegar mixture and creates a glossy surface on rice.

4. When rice becomes lukewarm, cover with a damp teatowel.

To make the sushi:
Your rice, obviously
1 nori sheet, halved crossways (mine were half-sized, so I used two, obviously)
Wasabi paste (this is Japanese horseradish and not something we keep in our cupboards; I use regular English horseradish paste/sauce thingy.)
1/2 cucumber, cut lengthways with the soft bit cut off.

Use vinegar water to handle the rice (240ml water and 1 tsp rice vingear).

As a first time sushi roller, I'll point you to these two posts for rolling-guidance:
Soy & Pepper
Sushi Day

My first roll was not exactly sucessfull as I rolled it too loosely, and my knife wasn't sharp enough, meaning I couldn't cut through the nori very easily and everything got squashed X__X:

Oh dear. Please don't look at that too long.
Second attempt:

I was on a bit of a roll (*groannn*) and had been pleasantly surprised how low-stress the hosomaki was, so I also make smoked salmon nigiri-zushi ; basically rice with a topping. This recipe was in Good Food magazine, so I'm not vouching for it being, you know, genuine.

However, it's very simple: you basically prepare 300g of sushi rice as above (using 4tbsp rice wine vinegar and 1 tbsp caster sugar in this case, according to the article) and spread it into a 20x20cm baking tin lined with a double layer of clingfilm. You then cover the rice entirely with smoked salmon slices (200g, but I had a 100g pack cause it was reduced at Tescos, and I made it enough). Fold the clingfilm over the salmon to cover, pressing down well with your hands to mould everything together. To serve, just use a sharp knife to cut it into 16 (I went for 24) rectangles. ^__^

Crazy stuff.


Nilmandra said...

"maybe you order sushi without rice and watch your carbohydrate intake."

That made me chuckle hehe... Yeah, a sharp knife is pretty essential for maki rolls, otherwise it gets frustrating! And I've never seen/heard that method of making nigiri before. Pretty neat! I usually just mould each rice block by hand or in a sushi mould.

Pixie said...

Very impressive indigo! I'm aiming for sometime tomorrow...hmm or am i?...i've yet to work on my DB challenge. You should join Dorie on Tuesdays btw, only because I really can't bake a cake once a week as much as I would love to!

Anonymous said...

Looks beautiful! :D Thanks for the link love. :) Yeah that second one is definitely not traditional but, well, if you have looked at the rest of my posts you'll see that most of mine are nowhere near traditional too!

Anna said...

Nilmandra - ^__^ You should have seen me hacking away at my roll with a blunt knife, it was a bit of a disaster, haha. Yeah; I'd have to get a sushi mould off ebay or something otherwise so it was quite a convenient way of doing it =]

Pixie - aah, I'll await your sushi with bated breath. My DB challenge comes at the start of March, oo-er. And where do you come up with all these challenges?! I'm going to pretend I can't hear you, I think; probably once a week is a bit ambitious for me too, without doubling my body weight XD

Allison - thankyou! Yeah, I'd love to try some of your unusual ones but I think I need to practise first,heh.

Rosie said...

This is so very impressive indigo! I've never dared to take the plunge to make my own you are such an inspiration!! Great post and pics :D

Rosie x

Anonymous said...

Indigo, you're such a talent! Sushi too? Looks great! That's why you are Excellent!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

yeah, pensioners are freaked out by sushi! i've only tried making maki (from allison's site--i agree she has great tips and photos), and it came out so much better than i thought. yours looks great, and nigiri too! sushi rice is my heroin, btw.

Cakelaw said...

Hi Indigo, Your sushi looks just fantastic! Sushi is great for a quick, light lunch. I am a little afraid of making it myself, so I am in awe of these.

Pixie said...

indigo- from reading other blogs or visiting is my blog burning and

You have friends you can give your cakes out to! Really I think you would be great at it.

Maria♥ said...

Indigo I have to be honest and say I am not a sushi fan at all but your pictures are beautiful ;o)


Anonymous said...

I loved the smoked salmon nigiri-zushi recipe! I thought they were a lot harder to do... I'll try them out one of this days. Thanks for the idea

Anna said...

Rosie - thankyou so much! I know; I never thought I'd have to nerve to actually try it, but once I started it wasn't as difficult as I expected (I just kept telling myself, 'if it's terrible, you don't have to blog it...!')

White on Rice Couple - dngkjd thankyou, that was such a lovely comment to find in my inbox, heh.

Steph - I'll have to keep my culinary endevours quiet to avoid panicking the neighbours =P. We only had long grain rice when I'm younger, so sushi rice was a bit of a revelation to me; I adore it ^__^

Cakelaw - I was also a bit scared to start, haha. My family generally eat more traditional food though, so I'm glad I branched out a bit =]

Pixie - aww, thankyou. I'll... think about it, I think =P. My family get offended if I give food away too often, but I'm tempted...

Maria - thankyou so much!! I'm not always very confident in my pictures so that was nice to hear! ^__^

Isa - cheers! Yeah, it's not exactly a traditional method for nigiri-zushi but I thought it was a pretty good idea, and so simple! Thanks =]

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Very nice pictures!

Anonymous said...

Thats the truth! I wish was this this talented. I can't wait to see what you'll be making 10 years from now. Yes, That's how committed we are in following your blog!

Anonymous said...

Hello there,

first time visiting your blog. very nice sushi considering this is yr first attempt? Well done and keep them coming!


Anonymous said...

Aside from the pretty sushi, I love your sense of humor! It really made me smile :)

Anonymous said...

Well i am getting ready to go to Japan and i wanted to check out some of the food that i would most likely eat there before i actually went and the recipes really helped me out thank a lot! they were good.