It was another busy weekend in the PeanutButterMilk kitchen. On Saturday night we hosted a sushi-making party for a few friends, and on Sunday we celebrated Nate’s birthday with a Southern cuisine feast.
Making sushi at home is a lot of fun. My stepsister, Michelle, gave us a sushi kit for Christmas, and it included all the essentials: chopsticks, soy sauce dishes, sake cups, sushi platter, bamboo rolling mat. This was the second time we tried it, and we were thrilled with how it all turned out.
Shrimp, avocado, cucumber and wasabi
The only tricky parts are buying the right amount of raw ingredients and preparing the special sushi rice. In this case, we had to guesstimate how much to buy for six people and ended up with quite a bit of leftovers. I bought a pound and a half of sashimi-grade tuna, a pound of local shrimp, and a pound of pre-cooked snow crab legs. (We probably could have done fine with just under a pound of tuna and three-quarters of a pound of shrimp. The rice is more filling than you think!) I also picked up two avocados, green onions, and a cucumber – plus, a pack of ten nori seaweed wrappers. Pickled ginger and wasabi are other important elements that we already had a home.
You want to make sure that the raw fish is incredibly fresh, and I always look for tuna labeled “sashimi-grade.” In most cases, the fillets are previously frozen, and that’s okay. Even though we live on the coast, I was apprehensive about buying and eating a raw local fish, like grouper, just because I don’t fully trust the grocery store handling practices. So, while the tuna was the only raw fish we ate, the steamed local shrimp and snow crab were just as delicious.
Preparing the rice is the most involved part of making sushi yourself. I have to admit that the first time I made the rice, I was humbled by how much of an art this process is. First, you must be sure to use short or medium grain rice. Long grain is too dry and retains too much water. I used one pound of rice and it was just enough to feed six people with 8-10 maki rolls and a handful of nigiri. Here is the step-by-step:
(1) Using a strainer, wash the rice until the water runs clear. Drain for 1 hour.
(2) Put the rice in a pot with tight-fitting lid and add 2.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
(3) Lower the heat further and steam for 12-15 minutes. Then, remove from heat.
(4) Remove the lid and cover the pot with a tea towel. Let it stand for 15 minutes.
(5) While the rice is cooking, you prepare a vinegar mixture that will be added later to create the right level of sticky texture. For this you will need 5 tablespoons of rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of mirin, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and one tablespoon of salt. Combine these in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar and salt dissolve. The key here is stirring constantly. Then, remove the mixture from the heat and cool.
(6) When the sauce and rice are finished, spread the rice evenly over the base of a shallow, ideally wooden, bowl. Then, you run a spatula through the rice to gently separate the grains – don’t mash or overly mix the rice. Continue cutting the spatula through the rice as you slowly add the vinegar mixture. You don’t need to stir or mix up the rice.
(7) Finally, fan the rice until it reaches room tempurature and then cover with a clean cloth until it’s time to start sushi-making.
Trust me, if you can make it though these steps, the rest of the process is a piece of cake. If however, the rice doesn’t turn out right, the sushi probably won’t hold together well and that can be frustrating.
Making a maki
Our friends had a ball enjoying — and making — a variety of maki rolls: tuna-avocado-scallion; snow crab-cucumber-wasabi; shrimp-avocado-cucumber… They all turned out very well. And the few pieces of tuna nigiri we made were also well received. On the side, we enjoyed Nate’s homemade fried rice, Maggie’s Asian salad, and several bottles of wine and sake.
Read Full Post »