In the last decade, sushi has successfully penetrated American food culture. It has appeared in potlucks, picnics, buffets, and all manner of social gatherings. It has also taken its place in the deli section of many grocery stores in providing a gluten-free and healthy option. In short, sushi has come of age in America.
There are different types of sushi but probably the most popular is the maki sushi or rolled sushi. Any season is a good season for maki sushi. The ingredients used can reflect what is available at the grocery stores at the time of the year. The use of raw fish is not a prerequisite. In fact, many sushi bars now serve sushi with cooked meats like smoked salmon, fried smelt, crab meat, shrimp, or ham. Fried eggs are quite common too. Even cheese is used as a filling similar to that of cheese wonton or crab rangoon. There are also delicious vegan and vegetarian options with avocado, cucumber, and asparagus.
Making maki sushi (rolled sushi) is not difficult. It requires a little patience and practice and is easier than it looks. It is actually quite fun when you get the hang of it. The only specialized piece of equipment required is the makisu (sushi mat) and this can be easily purchased at most grocery stores. Furthermore, it is very elegant and pretty to look at once sliced and presented. They make great appetizers or side dishes. Watch them disappear at parties and social gatherings.
When you make your first sushi roll, the nori (seaweed) may be rolled in (as shown here or in the picture below) giving it the appearance similar to that of uramaki (inside-out roll). Do not despair as most of us have been there and done that. Actually it looks quite pretty that way too. To achieve a more uniform roll with the filling in the center, sometimes the sheet of nori needs to be cut down to size. This of course is dependent on the thickness of the layer of rice and the amount of filling used. Most of the time, the nori for futomaki (thick rolls) need not be cut but like all things, practice makes perfect. You may have to try it a few times to get it just right.
I have chosen to use three of my favorite ingredients for these sushi – Nova lox, avocado, and cucumber. The ones above were made with cooked shrimps and avocado. You can use any of the ingredients I have mentioned. Homemade sushi is definitely more cost effective than store-bought ones, especially when you are feeding a crowd.
I will also be doing a step-by-step hosomaki (thin rolls) post and a new uramaki (inside-out rolls) post in the days ahead. I hope this tutorial helps. Do give it a try.
- 5 sheets of nori
- 1 English seedless cucumber, cut into long thin 6½ inch (16.5cm) strips
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced into strips
- 1 packet (3 oz/85g) Nova lox, sliced into strips
- Soy sauce
- Wasabi (optional)
- Pickled ginger (optional)
- 2 cups (400g) medium grain rice
- 1 piece 2-in x 2-in kombu, wiped with damp paper towel
- 6 tbsp rice vinegar
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1½ tsp salt
- Wash and drain rice 4 to 5 times in a medium sized pot. Cover washed rice with water and allow it to soak for 20 minutes. Drain rice.
- Pour in 2¼ cups (540ml) water. Drop the kombu into the pot and place pot on stove over medium heat. Just as water is about to boil, remove kombu. Place the lid back on and allow water to come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and let rice cook for about 10 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
- Turn off heat and remove pot without opening the lid. Allow rice to sit for 10 minutes before handling.
- Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve.
- Transfer rice to a moistened sushi barrel or large shallow bowl. Pour vinegar mixture evenly over the rice. Gently mix in the vinegar mixture with a rice paddle in a cutting motion. Do not mash.
- Turn the rice with the paddle and fan as you go along. This will help the rice absorb the vinegar and give it a glossy look.
- Place a sushi mat on your work surface. Then place a sheet of nori with shiny side down onto mat, lining with the edge of the mat closest to you. Moistened your hands and spread an even layer of vinegared rice with the help of the rice paddle onto nori, leaving about 1½ inches of nori at the far end. The rice should be approximately a quarter inch high. Create a ridge at the far end to prevent filling from spilling forward when rolled.
- Line up a strip of cucumber, 3 strips of avocados, and several strips of lox in the center of the rice.
- Holding down the filling with your fingers, lift the mat with your thumbs, rolling forward until the edge of the mat touches the top of the ridge. Firmly squeeze the mat and continue rolling forward while retracting the mat backwards so that the seam of the nori is at the bottom.
- Finally, place the top portion of the mat firmly over the roll, curl fingers and squeeze mat to compact the roll. Do not push too hard as to force the filling out at the ends. Repeat until all rice is used up.
- Slice each sushi roll into 6 thick slices.
- Serve with soy sauce, a small dollop of wasabi and pickled ginger.
Rolled sushi (uncut) may be wrapped in plastic shrink wrap and stored in the refrigerator for one night. Slice it the next morning for your bento. One entire roll coupled with some fruits are just right for a light lunch. This was Ro-Ri San’s bento for last Friday. I placed some berries and cut fruits in the lower compartment of this bento.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!