Monday, July 12, 2010

Adventures in Sushi

I love sushi. I mean, I really love sushi.  I could eat it every day for lunch and dinner without ever looking back.  It's fresh. It's simple. It's good for you. And it's so tasty!  For me, the simpler the better--no funny mayonnaises (I don't think they use mayo in Japan) or gloopy sauces on top.  I like the rice and nori best. Add in avocado (another non-traditional ingredient, admittedly) and some tasty fish and I'm one happy eater.

Clearly, on a limited (ahem--law student) budget, we can't afford to eat sushi nearly as often as I'd like.  If I could, I'd probably vote for sushi every time we did go out to eat.  Others are of a different mind (for some strange reason)... so my sushi-eating is at a relative minimum. Sadly.

Something had to be done!
and I did it :)

Two weekends ago, we were wandering around a kitchen store with a friend (who's setting up house) and I found a $6 sushi making kit ($4 on amazon).  T agreed to get it and I set myself to learning enough about sushi to try making it at home.  Fortunately the kit came with a good set of instructions on what ingredients are best, what methods work well, and a suggested list of filling ingredients.

We went to the Asian market last week and found the items we needed.  The total came to $40, and I also got about $15 of filling ingredients (most of which was the fresh crab I picked up at the farmer's market) :) but we definitely should be able to get several batches of sushi from the main ingredients, so that's good. Even though we've already spent $60 getting ingredients, that's equivalent to just two meals at a restaurant (for only T and me)--I'm hopeful about the return on our investment :)

So, to begin.  I had my sushi kit, and I had decided what to use for the maki: varying combinations of avocado, green onion, sliced cucumber, and fresh crab meat.  Of course I had a cup of tea handy for me to sip while rolling :) Tea makes everything better.

I also had Teahouse of the August Moon playing in the background.  My favorite Marlon Brando movie. Ever :)

Next, I had to make the rice.  This helpful FAQ page gives great instructions on how to make sushi rice (and they're the same as the instructions that came with my kit, so dig in, folks!).   I had gotten everything out and ready beforehand, making sure it was all within easy reach.  T volunteered to fan the rice for me while I mixed the seasoning in (it has to be cooled to room temperature relatively quickly to get a nice sheen on it).  We were a pretty good team :)

But I still had to assemble the rolls.  No matter how nice the ingredients are sliced and arranged and laid out, messy rolls just don't cut it for pretty sushi.

In picking a mat, I decided to go for the traditional bamboo slat mat. There are numerous "sushi made easy" kits, but if that "old" mat has worked for thousands of years in Japan, it's good enough for me. Besides, I love bamboo and Momma had a sushi mat in the kitchen for years--the smell of it is so nostalgic for me.  We never made sushi with it.  In fact, I don't remember what we did do with it, but I loved playing with it and the smell of the bamboo slats will always stay with me..

Recalling my first sushi-making experience, my rice was a tad starchy (maybe I added too much of the sushisu?), and some of the rolls were, um, ambitiously stuffed.  But those are things I can improve on.  If I get wracked with despair at never making pretty maki, I can always make temaki and go for a less-formal feel :)

I think the rice recipe made about 10 rolls.  We gobbled up every last piece of the sushi!  It was not the prettiest or most artfully presented sushi ever, but I wasn't expecting it to be.  I am completely happy with how my first-try turned out, and am excited to try again this week.

And did you know I've even managed to find a convenient source for sushi-grade tuna?

On the menu for this week:
makizushi with bluefin tuna, avocado, cucumber, and maybe green onions and carrots.  Are you as excited as I am? :)


  1. mMMMMmmmm...sushi! I totally wish I could come over and join you! Did I ever tell you the story of Mike and my second date where I got him to try some of my sushi from QFC? I had no idea of his food aversions. When his family found out he actually tried it for me of course they were quite impressed and thought he must have really, really liked me! Anyway, I love sushi too. We used to have sushi nights at church and I miss that! When you guys come into town again please please lets get together and have it!

  2. how funny! Though I don't know why people don't like sushi (ahem, MIKE!?) since it's just rice and vegetables. You don't *have* to get fish in it ;) I'm glad he tried some, though..

    we'll make some next time we're together when it'll work :) exciting!