Here you will find recipes past down from generations before me and quite a few new ones I have found along the way. When possible I will add a story that goes along with them.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Garden Fresh Nori Rolls

With the days getting hotter and the garden starting to grow, it seems a perfect time for a cool break from the hot stove. Sushi, as my Japanese Aunt would make, is a wonderful, but maybe too daring culinary adventure for some. If the idea of raw seafood or caviar is more then you can handle, then try the American version of sorts- "Nori Rolls" 
'Nuffin' raw, only good and good for you.
You can buy them in certain grocery store and I have, but honestly I worry a bit about the freshness of sealed -tight trays that do contain seafood. Alright the other issue is I am cheap! I do not want to pay that much for what can be made quickly at home.

For the rolls you will need and this is general, with the exception of a few ingredients I don't measure because the amount added is up to you.
Nori paper, found in oriental markets
Sushi rice
Mayonnaise (optional)
Sesame oil
Lemon juice
Thin sliced vegetables, like fresh tender lettuce, carrots, asparagus, cucumbers, avocados, cilantro, really anything you might like.
Shrimp or imitation crap legs work great, even thin sliced, cooked chicken tenders 
A dish towel or bamboo mat made for rolling sushi

First thing;
Start with a cup of sushi rice, I like Kokuho Rose. Sushi rice is a short grained sticky rice.
Put the rice into a sauce pan or as I do a stainless steal frying pan and add 2 to 2 1/4 cup water and put onto simmer over low heat, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
Just as I start to hear the sizzle of the pan beginning to dry out, I uncover and turn off the heat.

As you can see, the rice is not soggy but still sticky. 
Now I pour a couple of tablespoons of seasoned rice wine vinegar into the pan, this works similar to de-glazing a pan and loosens the stuck on rice.
While hot, scrape into a bowl and add about 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar (total) and let cool. Now my Aunt would put a fan next to the bowl at this time to make the rice shiny.  My fan is broken, so no fan. The truly authentic way of doing this is to use a hand fan.  Really, that is not conducive to cooling the cook. Plus, once in the roll, how shiny does it have to be?

While this cools I get the other ingredients ready.
I like to lay a dish towel out with a bamboo sushi mat, but just the towel works fine.

Put about 2 Tablespoons of mayo into a small bowl and to this add a squeeze of lemon juice and a few drops of sesame oil, careful with the oil as it can overwhelm quickly. Stir well

 I will usually hold my paper with tongs over a hot burner for just a few seconds. This will toast the paper and gives it a milder flavor.
Place the paper with the tiny lines on it running horizontally on to the mat or towel

Spread a thin coat of  the mayo mixture onto the paper, leaving about a 1/2 to 1 inch on the end

Yeah, I know! I did not quite leave a clean border edge on this one!
Now it is time to get your hands wet. I mean it, wetting your hands before handling the rice will make your life easier.
Spoon rice onto the paper and press down with damp hands till fairly smooth and even, again leave the one edge free of rice

When the rice is well covering the paper you can start adding your center fillings

In this one I used fresh, tender lettuce and asparagus and thin sliced chicken tenders
Place them towards the edge closest to you, that way when rolling away from you they will be in the center of your roll
Be some what careful not to over fill or you will have a roll too big to cover your rice

Time to roll!
Carefully lift the edge closest to you and begin to gently roll, while holding your fillings in with your finger tips 

Once the roll starts to cover the filling you will have more control and then you can start to squeeze gently as you roll, compressing the roll into a rounder shape

Keep the roll going, don't stop for photo ops if possible!

Nice hand modeling by my daughter!

Squeeze and roll as you go, this will be the time that you can get the roll into a good shape

When the roll feels firm and tight, unroll the mat or towel
If  loose you can still lay the mat back over and roll and squeeze again to firm it up

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 or more hours

Slicing time!
You will need a very sharp knife for this, thinner the blade the better! I have a fish boning knife that works great!
Cut gently so as not to 'smoosh the innerds out'
Keep the pieces thin, the suchi/nori etiquette is to fit the entire piece into your mouth in one bite.
Lay flat onto a plate or serving platter.

Eating time!
Serve cold and with dipping sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger

The sauce I make is,
 soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, mirin wine ( sweetened sake ) 
a few drops of sesame oil and wasabi on the side
Again this is more of a mix it as you like it kind of sauce, I find that each person really has a different idea of what taste best for nori.
 Start with a few tablespoons of soy sauce and slightly less rice wine vinegar and mirin, add the sesame oil last and stir
Mix and try, adjust to your taste. While you try to fit the whole piece into your mouth, feel proud of your cultural crossing and dream up new fillings for your next roll!

Oh yeah, wasabi Japanese horseradish, comes in a pre made paste or a powder.
The powder keeps the longest if put into the freezer.
Mix a tiny amount with a little water to form a paste. Traditionally you will then turn the bowl upside down and let set for about 10 minutes, this is said to intensify the flavor. A small can like this will last a long time.
Use just a tiny amount, it is powerful!