Monday, March 10, 2003

Sushi-making party

Last week we had a Japanese-themed dinner party. We had miso soup, various tempura, and green tea, but the highlight of the evening was the sushi, made on the spot by our honored guests. Sushi isn't something one normally thinks of making at home, but it was easier than I thought it would be, and easier on the budget too. Not mention that it's tasty and fun to do.

Here's what you need to do:
1. Make the sushi rice: Cook 2 cups of Calrose or other short grain sticky rice in 2 cups water in the rice cooker. (No rice cooker? Poor thing. Simmer in a covered pot for 20 minutes then. And think long and hard about getting a $15 rice cooker.) While you let the rice cool, heat up 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a small pot until the solids dissolve. Spoon this mixture into the rice a little at a time, mixing well so the rice is evenly seasoned. Taste (good isn't it?). Let the seasoned rice cool.

2. Prepare the tasty sushi insides: We made California rolls (always the favorite), Philadelphia rolls, and Spam sushi (that's right, Spam. And don't get all snobby, because it tasted great, just like I knew it would). None of which are particularly Japanese, but welcome to the tasty side of globalization.
*California rolls: Mix real crabmeat, mayonnaise, rice vinegar, wasabi, salt and pepper. You'll roll it up with slices of avocado and cucumber.
*Philly rolls: Nothing to mix here, just have smoked salmon, cream cheese, avocado and cucumber slices ready to go.
*Spam sushi: Bring 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup mirin to a boil in a small pan. Add cubed or sliced Spam, lower heat, and cook 2-3 minutes. Roll alone or with cucumber slices. (I got the recipe from Epicurious, where a ferocious pro-Spam/anti-Spam debate continues to rage in its reviews)

3. Roll away! For this you need a bamboo rolling mat and nori, the roasted seaweed sheets that holds it all together. We make them inside-out, because it's much more stylish, so the mat needs to be wrapped in plastic wrap. Put a half sheet of nori onto the mat and cover with a flat layer of rice. Flip the thing over so the nori faces up. Line up the insides near the closest end, about an inch from the edge. Lift that edge, with your thumbs on the bottom of the mat and your fingers keeping the insides in, roll until you’ve got a complete little sushi roll. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and slice into bite-size pieces. Great instructions, with pictures, can be found at Digs Magazine.

4. Get crazy: Some of the California rolls and Philadephia rolls also got tempura-ed. Just coat the entire sushi log in tempura batter and panko, and deep-fry. When nice & golden, drain and slice into individual pieces (this is much easier and comes out nicer than slicing first, then frying, which is what we did the first time). Tempura sushi is much heavier but pretty yummy.

5. Eat, eat, eat: Pick up the sushi with chopsticks, which can be wittily displayed as a dinner table centerpice by sticking them in a glass filled with rice, or your fingers, which are much easier to manage. Dip in a small bowl of soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. Place in mouth; eat. Repeat as needed. Try not have leftovers, it's not bad the next day but after that it's just not the same.

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