Thursday, 22 November 2012

Sushi for obsessives


This is why you need to wipe your knife between roll cuts. Notice how I have focused on the only clean one


Up until very recently I laughed at people who made their own sushi. There are some things that are best left to the experts, is my view - and sushi is one of them.

Then my raging pregnancy craving for sushi got quite out of control. It's all I want to eat, ever. It's all I can really stomach eating. I don't really mean actual raw fish, although that will do, I really mean cut rolls, maki rolls - California rolls, spicy tuna rolls - even vegetarian rolls. I don't care. I'm not fussy. I just want fucking sushi. I am an addict.

Even my Japanophile husband is getting a bit alarmed by it all, especially when we went out to a robata (a Japanese grill, where they cook tiny things on skewers - really delicious) and refused to eat anything except sushi.

But I can only squeeze a trip out for sushi out of him about once a fortnight or he starts getting bored with it, so I've had to come up with ways of filling in the gaps between my professional sushi hits. I stopped short at the Japanese sundries section of Waitrose the other day, dithered for a moment, then held out my arms, and swept the whole lot off the shelves and into my trolley: sushi mat, nori paper, wasabi, sushi rice, sushi rice seasoning. Then I wheeled back to the vegetable aisle and bought a cucumber, then I wheeled over to the fish section and bought some cooked, peeled prawns.

And I will say this: homemade sushi is actually pretty good. It's not that hard to do and doesn't make much of a mess - all you need to cook is the rice and everything else is just an assembly job - I can see if you did it reasonably often you'd get very good at all that rolling.

My problem is with the rice - although I've never been good at cooking rice, I'm hoping that results will come with practice. The two times I've cooked it now it comes out a bit overcooked and means a slight mushiness in the resultant roll. I now wonder if this might not be because of actual overcooking but allowing the rice to soak for more than the advised 30 minutes prior to boiling.

If you are going to make homemade sushi, then obviously the thing to do is look up a tutorial on YouTube, that is the only way to see properly how to do it, but I also offer the following additional notes:

1 When you cover your sushi mat with cling film, tuck the ends of the film in under the mat, to stop the film ending up getting rolled up inside the sushi, which is not the idea at all.

2 Sushi rice is like fucking concrete. Do not allow it, as I did, to sit in sieves, pots, on knives or sushi mats for more than a few minutes because it wil lliterally superglue itself to any unguarded thing - it's mental.

3 Do wipe your knife on a wet cloth inbetween cuts of your sushi roll as it will make it all look so nice; if you don't, little bastard grains of rice will stick to the knife and then stick to the next roll of sushi and look all messy (see photo above).

4 Be generous with your sushi rice seasoning. Plain old rice is awfully boring and I have found that the directions on the back of the seasoning bottle don't allow for enough.

20 comments:

  1. Definitely making sushi!! Do you have any recommendations for buying sashimi grade fish?
    Rebecca x
    p.s. sushi addicts anonymous!

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    1. god I really don't. I am so scared of fish (hence using the cooked prawns). my friend, also called Rebecca, makes sashimi, I will ask her

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    2. This place is amazing for raw fish and stuff http://www.fujifoods.co.uk/. And their sushi is the best in London (according to me).

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  2. I don't like sushi. Does that make me a total philistine?

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    1. yes but luckily you are in the right place

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  3. It's Thanksgiving, I'm faced with turkey and all the trimmings, and all I want is sushi! :/

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  4. I craved sushi when i was pregnant too - with lots of wasabi

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  5. I know sushi purists will think this totally wrong, but if you have a rice cooker you can make sushi rice pretty easily - I once wrote a blog post about it when I still wrote a blog (but now don't because I'm a crap writer!). Will message you the how to though...

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  6. Ooh, I think you are having an identical 2nd pregnancy to me. Like you, I was totally knackered for most of it and my first son really got a major introduction to Pixar. I also could only eat Jacket Potatoes with cheese and lots and lots of sushi in the day. I would go out simply to get sushi.

    Also in reference to a previous post about baby no 2. It is ridiculously exhausting having two, with quite a small age gap BUT the lack of anxiety about the baby stuff is amazing. Not constantly checking your watch or waking them up to feed them. (what an idiot I was the first time around) It's bliss.

    there you have 3 blog comments in one.

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  7. I love avocado maki that's my favourite so I'll have a go next time I'm out shopping but I can eat it nonstop so I best only buy enough for a certain amount

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  8. You need an electric rice cooker. My daughter is a bento nut and she says it is the only way to cook sticky rice properly. You can get them for about £40.

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  9. What about avocado? that's my faaaaavourite filling. Also you prob know this but you can dip your knife into warm water (without wiping) each time and that makes it waaay easier to cut, even with a cruddy knife.

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  10. Love your description of sushi rice as mental. We all need more mental food in our lives. Especially when pregnant and without mental gin.

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  11. Making your own sushi is fabulous but labour-intensive, when I tried I was so exhausted at the end of it I didn't feel like eating any of it! I didn't do the clingfilm thing which is probably why mine was a bit messy, thanks for the tip! x

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  12. After reading this I've just been out and bought a sushi kit. It's a good job I took note of your advice about there 'not being enough sushi vinegar' and bought a bottle, as the sachet that was supposed to be in the kit was missing, as was the wasabi. Luckily I have a stash of that anyway. So tonight...will be sushi night. Oh, and gyoza night too. Thanks! PS Hope Kitty is feeling better.

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  13. I was rubbish at cooking rice until I discovered rice cookers. They are the best!

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  14. That was one good thing about moving back to Vancouver - it is sushi land. The usual special is 18 pieces of sushi for $5.95, with miso soup. It's ridiculous. There's a great delivery place down the road from me, and another 5 minute walk from E's preschool. I miss good sausages though.

    Anyway, a good site for Japanese recipes is http://justhungry.com, she's written a great cookbook called Just Bento. It's not so much sushi as other kinds of Japanese food though.

    I used to order all my Japanese sundries from Japan Centre over there, but Waitrose is pretty good too. x

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  15. Apologies in advance for the tedious health message to follow... if you're pregnant and are using raw fish to make sushi, it needs to have been frozen for at least 24 hours before you eat it or use it for sushi, unless it's smoked, salted or pickled. Shop-bought uses pre-frozen. Here ends tedious health message ...

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  16. You need to keep the edge if your knife wet and it must be extremely share and as thin as possible. If you live sushi so much invest in a Japanese sushi training knife. Right handed and left handed exist. Use it for sushi only. Also spread the rice using your hands. Just keep them moist with water. Anything you place the rice in keep it moist and it won't stick. Once the rice begins to dry that's when it sets. You can also wrap the rice in foil if you want to use later. I had the same problem but I learnt on Sushi course that you use had idiots teaching us his to do sushi the hard way. Good luck :)

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