Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sushi- God's love affair with Japan

Ever since I tried my first sushi, I have been mesmerized and enchanted by its elegant shape, subtle taste and exquisite look. For me the sushi and its relatives are falling under the category "piece of art on a plate". I have to admit I made it just a few times throughout my culinary journey, but each time it was enjoyed with greatest pleasure.
I made this batch for our yesterday's little get-together. I read somewhere that it takes many years to qualify as sushi chef: the skills and technique required are second to none. Mine was just a humble attempt to simulate the making of this amazing bite piece which was once thought to be reserved only for the rich and famous....

Let's Begin
If you do not have a Japanese rice cooker, a heavy pot with lid is essential. One secret is to always measure your ingredients carefully. Following is a basic sushi rice recipe for rolled sushi. Also, the type of rice you use is most important.

Prepare Your Tezu
Your first step is to prepare your vinegar-water solution called tezu. Mix together 250 ml of water, 30 ml of rice vinegar (Marukan and Mitsukan are excellent) and 5 ml of salt.

(yields - 4 large rolls [futomaki] or 10 small rolls [hosomaki]) 500 ml Sushi Rice
600 ml Water
60 ml Rice Vinegar
30 ml Sugar
5 ml Salt

Wash The Rice
Wash the rice several times until the water runs fairly clear when draining. Let your wash rice strain for 30 minutes.

Cook The Rice
I cooked mine using the steamer, since I discovered the output was better. The rice is not mushy and the grains almost have a translucent look. Remove your pot from the heat and let stand covered for another 15 minutes.

Prepare Your Sushi Vinegar
Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt together in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let your sushi vinegar cool to room temperature.
Take a wooden spatula or spoon and cut and fold the rice. Be gentle as you do not want to smash the cooked grains.

Prepare Your Mixing Bowl
Moisten your bowl with a cloth dampened with your TEZU mixture.

Put the hot rice into your mixing bowl and add 1/4 of the sushi vinegar solution. Mix with a folding motion so as to not smash your perfect sushi rice. Repeat until all sushi vinegar is used.

Fan Your Rice
After mixing, fan [electric fan will work] the hot rice mixture for about 5 or 6 minutes in order to remove excess moisture and create a glossy shine to your rice. Your rice should have a slight chewiness and be sticky to the touch.

Prepare Your Filling
I made a layered omelette (the chinese technique) in advance. Cut it into long strips. I also had green onion, half-coked carrot and some color bell pepper.

Spread the Rice
Place a nori sheet shiny side down on the bamboo mat and evenly spread the rice. You do not have to spread the rice all the way to cover the edges: when you roll the nori, the rice will expand and cover up. Otherwise you will end up with lots of sticky rice in the rolling surface, which is not fun to clean up.

Place Your Filling
Place the omelette strips, onion and the rest in the center if your prepared nori. Play with different textures and colors to get different looking sushi.

Rolling the Sushi Log

Roll up the sushi tightly with the sushi mat to form a neatly packed cylinder (like a fat cigar).
Squeeze firmly to make sure the sushi roll is tightly packed (be careful not to squeeze too hard or you'll break the sushi roll)

Bite Sized Pieces
Move the roll, seam side down, onto a cutting surface, and cut the log crosswise into pieces with a wet, very sharp knife. Serve with wasabi paste, soy sauce and pickled ginger.

...and if you have some leftover rice and filling, do not despair....just make some hand- molded bites and enjoy them after the guests are gone and no sushi is left, and they don't have to look perfect, just make sure they fit your mouth :)))

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