Sunday, September 21, 2008

California Rolls

After years of obsessively eating sushi, living in Japan for 3 years during my childhood, and making sushi at home a few times with my mom, I finally ventured into the sushi-making territory on my own. I'd never made it without my mom. Thanks to Jer and Viv, we have the cool sushi roller and a really great sushi cookbook (Sushi), and imitation crab meat was on sale so it just seemed like tonight should be the night to make us some sushi.

I used Alton Brown's recipe for sushi rice because it doesn't require the sushi flavoring or kombu that some recipes call for, and it's extremely easy. I love Alton Brown. Then the recipe for the California Roll itself came from the sushi cookbook. I am going to put both recipes on this one post.

Our dinner turned out AWESOME. I am awesome. Hahahaha. OK so a California Roll is easy. But ours really did taste like the ones we get at restaurants, and it was delicious and we were happy. And now we know that if we get sushi cravings and happen to have things like nori and avocado on hand, we can whip some together. Haha.


First the rice recipe:

Sushi Rice
Alton Brown

2 cups sushi or short grain rice
2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.

Place the rice and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi or sashimi.

Yield: 4 cups

And now the sushi recipe:

California Roll
Sushi: 40 Delightful Japanese Dishes for All Occasions

Crab sticks, sometimes called imitation crab sticks, are widely available. Made from fish or seafood, they are neatly shaped logs with a pink strip down one side. Crab sticks are found in california rolls, but because of their neat shape they are also very useful for other types of rolled sushi.

Freshly cooked sushi rice
6 small sheets of toasted nori
Wasabi paste
1/2 ripe avocado, cut into thin sticks
6 crab sticks, split in half lengthwise
2-inch piece of cucumber, peeled and cut into thin sticks

To serve:
Shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
Pickled ginger

Divide the rice into 6 equal portions. Put a sheet of nori shiny-side down on a rolling mat with the longest end toward you and, using wet hands, spread 1 portion of the rice in an even layer on the nori, leaving 3/4 inch of nori visible at the end farthest away from you. Don't squash the rice or make the layer too thick - you should be able to see the nori through the rice.

Spread a small amount of wasabi onto the rice at the end nearest you. Lay 2 thin avocado sticks down on top of the wasabi, keeping them parallel to the edge of the nori nearest you, then put 2 pieces of crab next to them. Add a line of thin cucumber sticks.

To roll the sushi, fold the mat over, starting at the end where the ingredients are, and tucking in the end of the nori to start the roll. Keep rolling, lifting up the mat as you go and keeping the pressure even but gentle until you have finished the roll. Moisten the top edge of the nori with water to seal the sushi roll closed. Don't worry if anything falls out the sides, just push it back in. The edges may well look ragged, but don't worry.

Remove the roll from the mat and cut it into 4 even-size pieces with a wet, very sharp knife. If you don't use a sharp knife the roll will squash as you cut it. Arrange the rolls on a plate. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve with shoyu, pickled ginger, and some extra wasabi paste.

Yield: 24 pieces

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