Restaurant Favorite

A one-sided chat about nori rolls and a recipe which I promise is not so hard.

I was not sure I should post a recipe for sushi. It seems daunting, right? And if you are not already a sushi fan, I imagine you have visions of fishy-tasting globs with the possibility of food poisoning and the inevitability of a big bill dancing around in the background. But that’s sort of what this blog is about. I want to present healthy meals that are not far out of reach. And I want to convince you that homemade sushi is not out of reach for a busy lifestyle, at all. As for those of you who never want to try it, that’s okey too. For today’s entry, I want to mostly address the many people who love sushi but think of it as an occasional restaurant splurge.

Recently, I wanted to make a change to our food schedule, to replace a main lunch item that just wasn’t working out. My seven-year-old immediately piped up with her favorite food; sushi! Since Kevin and I also both love sushi, it was tempting, but I was reluctant. Shouldn’t I leave sushi making to the expert with the giant knife and the bamboo mat? Turns out; not really.

Let’s first go over some definitions. Sushi technically refers to Japanese, vinegared rice presented in various formation with other ingredients. Most of us think right away of nori rolls (norimaki), which are the pinwheels of rice with crucial ingredients at the center and seaweed (nori) wrapped around the outside. This is the type of sushi that I am going to teach you how to make so that you can enjoy on the fly, in your lunch pail. We also often think of hand-rolls (temaki), inside-out rolls (urimaki), or hand-formed (nagirisushi). Nagirisushi would include that beautiful display of little balls of rice topped with colorful raw fish, eel, tofu, etc.

When it’s sushi at home, I stick with veggies, fruits, condiments, and occasionally cooked meats and seafood. We started eating sushi when we were vegetarian, so this is an easy thing for us to do: our favorite sushis are veggie. Even though I have access to sushi-grade fish, I choose not to handle and serve raw fish at home. It’s up to you, but please be aware of the dangers associated with mis-handled raw seafood and meats. Also, I make this whole recipe, then serve two of the rolls for the four of us that day, and then refrigerate the rest for lunchboxes later. This works really well. The directions here look crazy, because I do a lot of explaining, but I assure you that once you know how the process works, it is anything but difficult or drawn-out. Once the rice is steamed, everything comes together quickly. Prepping the filling is the “hardest” part, but since you can chose your own filling, you can make that as painless as you want. Pay close attention to directions like having wet hands and using a serrated knife.

SIMPLE ENOUGH NORI ROLLS

  1. Steam or cook 1 1/2 cups sushi rice according to directions on package. I steam mine in that same electric steamer I am always mentioning.
  2. Meanwhile, chop up sushi filling of your choice. Long, slender pieces are ideal. Our favorite options are: julienned carrots, scallion chiffonade, julienned cucumber, diced avocado, pickled radish, julienned red radish or daikon, fried egg strips, tofu strips, spinach or herbs, julienned apple, small diced mango or kiwi (or pineapple), mayo, cream cheese, or sesame seeds. You can also feel free to experiment with cooked and shredded salmon, cooked or friend shrimp, chili sauce, and even strips of lunch meat. How about a cheese steak nori roll? You only need a couple fillings for each time you make them, so keep it simple.
  3. Remove rice to a mixing bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (cider or white wine vinegar would also do) and 1-2 tablespoons sugar, plus salt to taste.
  4. Lay out one sheet of nori, shiny side down, on a cutting board in front of you. Wet your hands. Top with 1/4 of the rice and press down rice flat to cover the nori, leaving a margin of 1 1/2 inches along the side furthest from you. It is key to keep your hands wet when working with sushi rice.
  5. Line up your filling in a straight line about 1 1/2 inches from the edge closest to you. See illustration if confused. It’s easy.
  6. Fold edge closest to you up over the filling, and then roll the whole thing up and away from you. At the end, wet your finger and spread on the exposed nori. When you roll up over the wet nori, it will seal nicely.
  7. Set aside, and repeat from step 4, three more times.
  8. To serve now, cut into 8-10 even pieces with a damp, serrated knife. I run the knife under water about every two cuts. To store and eat later, wrap securely in Press-N-Seal and store for 1-2 days in the fridge.
  9. To serve, include a small container of soy sauce, and optional pickled ginger (in the Asian section of your grocery store) and wasabi (same).
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