Sushi – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

Ev and I like entertaining. It’s fun to have your friends over for dinner and drinks and to show off your skillz in the kitchen.

About the middle of 2011, we realised how much money we were blowing every time we ate at the local sushi restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a 10 minute walk away and we still visit occasionally but you know how those Sushi Train restaurants work, $$$ per plate and everything that’s travelling past you looks so delicious that you just have to try it. And who keeps track of the different coloured rims and the quickly escalating bill? Not us.

Ev, who can’t say no to a challenge and the possibility of doing something (well) that most others can’t, decided one night we’d make sushi for dinner. Well, I can tell you what we plated up was not what we had imagined after months of good sushi from the local restaurant. It was so heart breaking, to think we’d slaved away for 2 hours – no joke – and all we came up with was this…

Argh, BURN IT!!! It’s embarrassing.

Here’s where we went wrong:

  • At this point we were still using our shitty rice cooker. I know there are good ones out there and some people swear by them but the day ours shorted out and we could ditch it was one of the best days of our culinary lives.
  • We were n00bs at filleting and preparing the sashimi. Don’t worry, it was fresh, but the slices were messy and looked terrible.
  • We left out the avocado and cucumber… colours are part of what makes sushi so good to eat. Food should look and taste good.
Here’s what we do now. It’s (apparently) so good we managed to convert a non-sushi eater who now complains if it’s MIA when she comes over… not naming any names 😛
The Rice:
ABSOLUTELY important. You can’t slack off here and put in just any rice, cooked just any way. We learnt that the hard way. Begin with proper sushi rice. You can’t substitute Jasmine or Basmati, their grains are too long. Making it this way, we have never had rice stick to the bottom of the dish. I used to think that that was just part of making rice but apparently it’s not!
  • 3 cups of rice should make enough sushi to serve as part of a meal for 8-10 people. We normally serve sushi as an appetiser (US lingo)/entree (rest of the world lingo for appetiser).
  • WASH YOUR RICE!!! Wash it until the water runs clear. You should scrunch the rice with your hand between rinses as well. Washing it gets rid of the starchy outer layer, which will give it a chalky taste and mushy texture.
  • Add the drained rice to a pot with 1.25 cups of water to every cup of rice, put the lid on and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • Put the pot onto a high heat and bring to the boil – a tight fitting glass lid works best. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a low setting and let it simmer for 15 minutes. The lid cannot be removed until the rice is finished or the steam will escape. Also, set a timer.
  • Take the pot off the stove and let it sit for a further 15 minutes, leaving the lid ON.
  • Make your sushi rice seasoning while you wait. A typical ratio is 1 cup rice vinegar to 1/2 cup superfine sugar and 1/4 cup of salt. Or you can buy sushi rice seasoning pre-made.
  • Now you can remove the lid and pour the sushi rice out onto a casserole dish  that is made of glass/pyrex or a wooden chopping board… NOT metal or the rice will cool too quickly and the texture will not be the same. Use a small fan (hand held or electric) and “chop” your rice back and forward across the dish with a firm spatula to facilitate cooling, while gradually sprinkling over your seasoning. Don’t mush the rice around or you’ll crush the grains. Check your rice for taste and texture to know when to stop adding the seasoning. It should be sticky, not gluggy.
  • CONGRATULATIONS, you’ve just made sushi rice. I’m not exaggerating when I say it took us 6 months to perfect this method, taking tips from here and there.
The Fillings:
Dynamite sauce – 1/2 cup kewpie, 2 tbsp sriracha, 2 tbsp roe. Alter to your own taste.
Our standard fillings would be salmon (sashimi), avocado, cucumber and homemade dynamite sauce.
Alternatively, you can make vegetarian sushi for those like my sister who don’t eat meat or fish. Some combination of beetroot, green beans, cucumber, firm tofu, bean sprouts, carrot, avocado and dynamite sauce would all work.
I know you’d think it goes without saying but the fillings should be julienned… except the sauce.
Basically, just play around with flavours. Ev wants to attempt a pulled pork version of sushi next… I’ll keep you updated.
Assembling the sushi:
A sushi rolling mat (or something similar) makes your life so much easier and produces neater sushi rolls.Lay your nori (the dried seaweed mat) out on the rolling mat and, using the spatula from earlier, spread your rice in a thin-ish layer over 2/3 of the length of the nori. If you spread it over the entire length, you’ll end up with a spiral sushi like we did in our first picture. Not as pretty, so we leave the last 1/3 of the nori uncovered so it will just stick to itself and you wont even know it existed.
About 2-3 cm in from the end closest to you (which should be the end covered in rice) lay a trail of your ingredients from left to right across the width of the nori/rice. Don’t use too many ingredients, or your sushi will be too thick and wont be structurally sound.
To roll your sushi, lift the edge closest to you with the rolling mat and roll the whole thing towards the rice-free end that is furthest from you. Once the nori that is covered has met, keep rolling nori on nori until you get almost to the end. Then lightly dip your finger in water and spread it across the width to help it stick together and stay sealed.
If we make sushi ahead of time (never more than by a few hours, as rice can be a good breeding ground for nasties like bacteria, not to mention the necessity for fresh sashimi) this is where we stop and refrigerate it, to be sliced later on.
Slice the sushi into a size of your choice. You could opt for a longer California roll, or a pretty, bite-sized piece like we normally do. A very sharp, wet knife will help you cut them cleanly without smooshing the rolls as you go.
Oishii desune!
PS. The benefits of making your own sushi means you can use left over rice to make nigiri! Yum, yum, yum.

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