August 15, 2009
It was purely coincidental that I’m posting two consecutive posts about sushi, I swear! But for our 3rd annual summer BBQ at our office my contribution to it this year was sushi… maki rolls to be exact. Sashimi grade salmon is not available for purchase up in Williams Lake, so I made california rolls and chicken teri rolls.
One thing I learned about living in a small town in up-country is that you’re not always able to find certain ethnic ingredients quite so readily at the local Save-On… particularly the nori (aka seaweed paper). It’s a regular staple in our cupboards now and I always try to have at least one un-opened package at the ready… which reminds me, I’ll have to pick some more up the next time I’m down at the coast. But anyhoo…
I like to prepare the rice like so:
- 2 cups sushi rice (generic medium grain will do)
- 2 and 1/4 cups water
- 4 tbsps rice vinegar
- 3 tbsps sugar
- 1 tsp salt
Rinse the rice really well with running tap water to remove as much of the excess starch as possible. It helps to agitate the rice with your fingers. The water will appear very cloudy at first before becoming more clear as the starch is washed off. Once you’re satisfied with how clean your rice is, drain off as much of the water as possible and just let it sit for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt together until all the granules are dissolved. Set aside for later.
When the time comes, I add the rice to the rice cooker (sorry folks, I’ve never had to make rice on a stove before!), add the water, set it and forget it. I have a large wooden salad bowl, that I picked up from Value Village of all places, that I use to mix my rice with. It’s not too deep and has a pretty wide perimetre which makes it perfect for cooling the rice in.
Add the cooked rice to your mixing bowl of choice, drizzle the vinegar mixture evenly over it, and begin to gently combine the ingredients together. The rice needs to be fanned down to bring down the temperature. If you have company handy, make them go to work… or do like I do and park myself in front of the oscillating fan.
Use gentle, “cutting-like” motions and folding techniques to mix the vinegar into the rice without breaking or mashing the grains together. I prefer to use a large wooden spoon to do this. You’re done once the rice feels like it’s about room temperature.
The rest is easy… just spread your rice over the rough side of your nori, add in the fillers of choice, roll and slice! Right? Hahaha… I kid, I kid. To spread the rice, I find it easiest to work with wet hands, otherwise the rice will stick to your skin like crazy. I keep a bowl of cold water beside me so that I can always dip my fingers into them. And remember, practice makes perfect so don’t stress over your rice application technique.
The california roll includes crab (I used imitation stuff), avocado and cucumber. I substituted the crab with chicken teriyaki slices to make the chicken teri roll. The ingredients should be lined up in a nice horizontal line, roughly 1/3rd from the bottom of the nori sheet away from you so that it’s easier to roll your maki together. Slicing should be done with a very sharp knife so that clean cuts into the nori can be made without squishing the ingredients together. Again, keeping the knife blade wet will ensure less sticking to the rice.
As an added bonus, I decided to make some “seaweed-less sushi” for those that… well… don’t like seaweed! I ripped off a square piece of saran wrap, and laid out a strip of avocado in the middle of the plastic. I then laid out a thin slice of chicken to either side of the avocado, or added a dollop of crab mixture to it, depending on which variety of sushi I was making. To that, I added a larger dollop of the rice, carefully brought the ends of the plastic wrap together, twisted and shaped the whole thing into a little ball. I thought the end result was very cute! Overall, I was pleased with my dish… and judging by the empty dish, so were my co-workers!