Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sushi Love

My very own handmade sushi hand roll trio: Toro Avocado Roll; Spicy Salmon Roll; Cucumber roll

Tonight was a dinner date all with myself and a very impressive one needless to say.
And since I had only myself to impress, 
I figured now would be the time I'd try something entirely new.
Whether the outcome good or bad, I knew I had nothing to lose! 

My very first attempt at making hand made sushi was surprisingly a successful one.
I was no Iron Chef of America.
I had always feared the sushi mat.  
My expertise on finding the best sashimi was still questionable.
How would I make the rice stick to the nori?
Would it even be edible?
All of the answers to my questions where right at my finger tips, literally!

After doing some research, I had discovered that an Asian grocer that I had so frequently ignored over the years was busy carrying some of the most delicious sashimi selections, 
and all in perfect portions.

Commonly my go-to spots for sushi-grade quality seafood would be 
Dean & DeLuca, Citarella, Wild Edibles...etc.  
They were always reliable, but left a horrible dent in my wallet.

And then there was M2M.
It is a wonderful Asian grocery store that has just about everything you would need to create the perfect at-home Japanese sushi experience ...
and at a much more affordable price!     

At M2M, a 1/4lb-1/3lb cut of sashimi will cost just as much
 as a hand roll typically would in a restaurant, 
but will make up to 3 rolls of sushi at home depending on how you use it.

This sashimi tasted so good and sliced like butter.
was entirely impressed with the overall quality! 

**If you can't get fresh sashimi from a grocer or fishmonger, then I would suggest purchasing your favorite sashimi from your local Japanese restaurant to use for your own hand made sushi!

The sushi rolling mat I used to prepare my hand rolls was actually made out of silicone and so much better than those old fashioned bamboo mats.
And so much more hygienic too! 

The brand of the mat I used is by Lekue 
and can be found at Sur La Table stores in NYC or online.

This excellent video demonstrates just how easy all of this was!

The best part about tonight's dinner was that I already had ALL of the simple ingredients fully stocked in my pantry and fridge except for the sashimi 
(I always love when that happens).

I prepare thinly sliced cucumbers (lenghwise) to the size of a hand roll.
I also finely chop fresh chives and set aside an avocado for thin slicing as well as sesame seeds.  I lightly rinse and pat dry the sashimi cuts.  Make sure to keep the fish chilled on ice until just before using.

For the Spicy Salmon roll - I combine in a small bowl the finely minced (tartar style) salmon with a dash of "spicy mayo" and a sprinkle of chives.
The key ingredients to the spicy mayo are SO simple:  
1/2 cup mayonnaise + 1 tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce.

On my sushi mat, I place a Nori (unseasoned dried seaweed sheet) with the glossier, shiny side down on the mat along with an evenly thin layer of the sushi rice spread out all over the mat (but leaving a 1" spacing at the opposite end of the Nori sheet).

 At the end closest to me on the Nori/Rice sheet, spoon a thin layer of the Spicy Salmon mixture over the top of the rice in a 1" wide strip.

Below is an excellent, fool-proof diagram from Japanese chef Marc Matsumoto on the PBS 'Fresh Tastes' Food Blog:

It is THAT easy! 

and voila! Hand made Spicy Salmon Chive Hand Roll!
The texture will melt in your mouth, the taste is unforgettable!

I always like a simple, pure and healthy cucumber roll to balance out the meal.

Next up is a Toro (fatty Tuna) Avocado Roll.
This is healthy and delicious. 

I begin with a thinly sliced (halved) avocado and thinly sliced (lengthwise) strips of the Toro sashimi.

On a Nori sheet with rice on top, placed on the sushi mat,
 I overlap slices of avocado along a 1" border.

Then overlap the Toro slices on top of the avocado.  
Sprinkle with chives and sesame seeds if desired.

Roll up your sushi mat, making sure to roll it tight so the ingredients don't separate from the nori & sushi rice.  

Using a very sharp knife (sushi knife would be ideal), score the roll at the midpoint, then score the middle of each half, and then score the middle of each quarter (you should have 8 segments).

My very own heavenly sushi platter

Toro (fatty tuna) avocado roll
Spicy Salmon Chive Roll + Cucumber Roll

Iron Chef Jen

Hand Made Sushi Hand Rolls
*Spicy Salmon Chive Roll
*Toro Avocado Roll
*Cucumber Roll  
Recipe below serves 2.  Duplicate the measuring for larger servings.


For Sushi Roll filling:
1/4 lb. fresh sashimi-grade Toro (fatty tuna), thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 lbs. fresh sashimi-grade Salmon, finely minced until tartar style paste
1/2 avocado (pitted), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
chives, finely minced 
For Rice:
12 ounces short grain sushi rice
1 1/2 cups cold water
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
For Spicy Mayo
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce (adjust as needed)
Tools/For Roll:
1 pack unseasoned nori for sushi (1 sheet per roll)
1 silicone or bamboo makisu (bamboo mat for rolling sushi)     
Preparation / Cooking Instructions

1. Prepare the sushi rice.  Wash the rice in a sieve until the water is almost clear.  Drain and add to a heavy bottomed pot along with the water.  Bring the pot to a boil and cover with a lid.  Turn down the heat to a low simmer, leaving to simmer for 15 minutes (stirring occasionally so the rice doesn't completely stick to the pot).
2. After 15 min., remove the rice pot from heat and let the rice steam for an additional 10 minutes. 
Do not open the lid during this time.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, sugar and salt together.  In a separate dish, place the rice from the pot to the dish and carefully fold in the sushi vinegar mixture, using a spatula to fold and combine.
Leave the rice out to cool until at room temperature.
4.  For the Spicy Salmon Roll: in a bowl, combine the minced salmon with 2 tablespoons of the spice mayo mixture and a sprinkle of chives and sesame seeds.
5.  Lay the nori, shiny side down on the sushi mat.
6.  Wet your fingertips with water and lay down a thin layer of rice, leaving a 1" spacing empty from the top of the nori.  The rice will be sticky - dip your fingers in water to help release some of the stickness when pressing the rice outwards to keep an even thin surface layer.
7. Spoon the Spicy Salmon mixture across the bottom edge of the nori/rice sheet (at the edge closest to you) - from 1 end to the opposite end creating a 1" border.  Try NOT to overfill at this point.  The thicker your filling, the bigger the roll will turn out and the messier the presentation might be.
8.  Hook your thumbs below the sushi mat and roll the edge of the mat up and over the filling.  Do not squeeze the roll too much at this point or the sushi won't stay in place.
9.  Continue rolling, being careful not to roll the mat along with the sushi.  When you've reached the end, give the roll a good squeeze from all around to set in the shape of the rice. 
You should end up with a slightly square long roll.
10.  Using a very sharp knife (sushi knife would be ideal), score the roll at the midpoint, then score the middle of each half, and then score the middle of each quarter (you should have 8 segments).
11.  For the Toro Avocado Roll: repeat all of the above steps except for the sushi filling mixture.
Use thinly sliced avocados with thinly sliced Toro placed on top as the filling.


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