Variations

Nigirizushi (Finger Sushi)

1. Prepare wasabi (green horseradish) by mixing wasabi powder with a little water to form a thick paste. Let stand, covered, a few minutes to allow flavor to develop.

2. Prepare sushi toppings by cutting very fresh fish fillets (use saltwater fish or smoked salmon) into slices about 1 x 2V2 in. (4 x 6 cm). Tuna, the most popular fish for sushi, is tender and is usually cut about in. (6 mm) thick. Other fish are cut thinner.

3. Wet your hands with cold water to keep the rice from sticking to them, then pick up about 2 tbsp (30 mL) sushi rice. Shape it into firm oval about 1V2 in. (4 cm) long (see Figure 15.5). Pick up a slice of fish in one hand. Dip a finger of the other hand in the wasabi and spread a very small amount on the underside of the fish slice. Drape the fish over the rice, with the wasabi underneath next to the rice, and press it gently but firmly in place. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.

Kappa-maki (Cucumber Roll)

To make rolled sushi, you will need a special bamboo mat called a sudare (see Figure 15.5). You could also use a sheet of parchment, but the roll will be harder to make.

1. Peel a cucumber. Cut it in half and scrape out the seeds. Cut lengthwise into julienne.

2. Cut a sheet of nori (a type of seaweed for rolled sushi) in half crosswise. Toast it by passing it briefly above a burner flame, being careful not to burn it.

3. Put the bamboo mat on the table in front of you with the bamboo strips horizontal. Put the half-sheet of nori on the mat, smooth side down.

4. Cover the two-thirds of the nori closest to you with a layer of sushi rice about 54 in. (6 mm) thick.

5. Spread a light streak of wasabi from right to left across the middle of the rice.

6. Lay strips of cucumber evenly on top of the strip of wasabi.

7. Lift the edge of the mat closest to you and roll up firmly. This is best done by lifting the mat with the thumbs while holding the cucumber in place with the fingers. Press the roll in the mat gently but firmly to make it tight.

8. Wipe the blade of a very sharp knife, then cut the roll in half crosswise. Do not saw the roll but cut it cleanly with a single stroke. Wiping the blade on a damp cloth after every cut, cut each half roll into 3 or 4 pieces.

Tekka-maki (Tuna Roll)

Make Kappa-maki, but instead of cucumber, use raw tuna cut into batonnet strips.

Chirashizushi (Scatter Sushi)

Fill a serving bowl half full of sushi rice. Carefully and attractively arrange an assortment of raw fish, cooked shrimp, crabmeat, and neatly cut vegetables such as snow peas, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, and pickled ginger on top of the rice.

Figure 15.5 Making sushi.

Figure 15.5 Making sushi.

(a) For nigirizushi, wet your hands with cold water to keep the rice from sticking to them. Form a bit of rice into a small oval in one hand.

(b) in the other hand, pick up a slice of fish and smear a dab of wasabi on the bottom of it.

(c) Top the rice with the fish, wasabi side against the rice, and press in place in the palm of one hand with two fingers of the other.

(d) Turn it over and press the same way. Then press the sides with the thumb and forefinger to finish shaping it.

(a) For nigirizushi, wet your hands with cold water to keep the rice from sticking to them. Form a bit of rice into a small oval in one hand.

(b) in the other hand, pick up a slice of fish and smear a dab of wasabi on the bottom of it.

(c) Top the rice with the fish, wasabi side against the rice, and press in place in the palm of one hand with two fingers of the other.

(d) Turn it over and press the same way. Then press the sides with the thumb and forefinger to finish shaping it.

(e) For rolled sushi, put a half piece of nori on the sudare (bamboo mat). Wetting your hands with cold water to keep the rice from sticking to them, spread a layer of sushi rice over the bottom two-thirds of the nori.

(f) Lay strips of the filling across the middle of the rice.

(g) Holding the filling in place with the fingers, lift the corner of the mat with the thumbs and roll up.

(e) For rolled sushi, put a half piece of nori on the sudare (bamboo mat). Wetting your hands with cold water to keep the rice from sticking to them, spread a layer of sushi rice over the bottom two-thirds of the nori.

(f) Lay strips of the filling across the middle of the rice.

(g) Holding the filling in place with the fingers, lift the corner of the mat with the thumbs and roll up.

(h) Press the mat firmly and evenly to make a tight roll.

(i) Cut the roll in half with a single forward stroke, using a dampened knife.

(j) Wipe the blade between cuts, and cut each half-roll into three or four pieces.

(h) Press the mat firmly and evenly to make a tight roll.

(i) Cut the roll in half with a single forward stroke, using a dampened knife.

(j) Wipe the blade between cuts, and cut each half-roll into three or four pieces.

SUSHI: A JAPANESE CLASSIC

Fish and rice dominate the cuisine of the island nation of Japan, and these two staples are combined in sushi, a classic Japanese preparation that is especially popular in the West. Sushi originated many years ago as a way of preserving fish by salting it and packing it with vinegared rice. When the fish was eaten, the rice was discarded.

In Japan, it takes many years of apprenticeship to become a sushi master, or itamae (ee-tah-mah-eh). A master is skilled in preparing rice properly, making rice fingers of just the right size and compactness for nigirizushi, and especially in selecting, judging, and cutting the many varieties of fresh seafood used as toppings.

When one is eating nigirizushi, it is considered improper to dip the rice ball into soy sauce. The large amount of soy sauce absorbed by the rice masks the fresh flavor of the toppings and makes the rice ball break up. Instead, turn the sushi over and dip the seafood topping lightly in the sauce.

Incidentally, in Japanese, an initial s sound, as in the word sushi, may change to a z sound when it is in the middle of a compound word, as in nigirizushi.

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