Bowing Down to the Masters

I’ll spare you the Spice Girls tonight. πŸ˜‰ That stinkin’ song was stuck in my head for at least 24 hours.

Tonight we’re on to something new; although something that is still often stuck in my head as well. Sushi. I love sushi. This is a relatively new realization for me. I only tried sushi for the first time five years ago. Now I’m officially hooked. Addicted. It’s a must-have at least twice a month for me. It would be more often if it wasn’t for budgets and watching the mercury intake. Β After all I don’t want to end up like Jeremy Piven.

So when A_Boleyn suggested we cook recipes from Japan – I knew sushi was going to be on the menu. Mike and I have made sushi the last few years on New Year’s Eve (also Mike’s birthday). After we put the kids to bed, we get cooking and have really enjoyed experimenting with various options. We’re not experts by any means, but that’s part of what makes this so fun for us. We’ve enjoyed some successes and tossed others in the trash – it’s totally trial and error. So after a sushi cooking class this past month, I figured we were ready to give it a go again – with the kids this time.

Now there are a few things that I feel are necessary when it comes to making good sushi:

Properly cooked rice. Make sure you rinse the rice to wash away some of the starch. If you don’t you’ll have overly sticky and very starchy rice. Run it under cold water in a strainer until the water runs clear. This can take up to 30 minutes.

Cook the rice in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once complete place the rice in a non-metal dish and spread it out with a paddle. Combine rice vinegar, sea salt and sugar in a bowl and dissolve the sugar. Add the mixture to the rice a few tablespoons at time while cutting the rice with a paddle (don’t stir it as it will become mushy), and fan it to cool. You’ll want to use 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of the vinegar mixture and the rice should be room temperature when complete. Make sure to use this within an hour and do not refrigerate.

Mise en place. Everything in its place. I find this to be a crucial step in preparing sushi and, unlike the rice, a lot of this can be done ahead of time. We prepared some julienne asparagus, cucumber and green onions for maki fillers.

Next we sliced some strawberries and mango for both a filler and topping. (Dessert sushi!)

And of course we needed some fresh seafood. Try and get your hands on some sushi-grade seafood. This seafood is frozen in a way to help prevent food-borne illnesses. If you have a Whole Foods in your area, call at least 24 hours in advance and request your sushi-grade fish. We selected a tuna, one of my favorites and sliced it for toppings. We also chopped some and combined it with sambal for a spicy tuna roll (yum!).

We also ordered some sushi-grade salmon and bought some precooked shrimp. We sliced the salmon for toppings as well as chopped some and combined it with mayo and sambal for spicy salmon.

As for the shrimp, we left some to stand on its own and then created a shrimp tempura out of the rest. We dipped the shrimps in egg white and panko and fried them in a bit of canola oil. We also fried a bit of the panko to create a tempura topping.

Now if you’re preparing this ahead of time, make sure to keep the fish (with the exception of the tempura) refrigerated.

Once you’re ready to go, wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap and place your nori shiny side down.

Now it’s time for the all-important Tezu!!!!! This is the greatest little concoction ever. It’s a blend of water and rice vinegar and it helps to prevent the rice from sticking all over your when you make the rolls – and it really works! Mr. N helped us to line the nori with some rice by first dipping his hands in the tezu and then gently using the tips of his fingers to spread the rice.

Miss A then came to help with the filling. She was happy to work on the dessert roll with mango and strawberries.

As for dad and I, we dipped our hands in tezu and took care of the rolling, which can be a little challenging. The trick is to start by rolling the bottom of the mat/nori over the filling. Give it a little tuck and then lift the mat again and continue rolling until the top is rolled in. Then squeeze it gently to seal.

If you’re preparing inside-out rolls (rice on the outside), it’s now time to layer your desired toppings over the rolls. You can top with slices of raw fish, cooked fish, eel, sesame seeds, or cilantro. Go wild! Experiment!

And finally, sharp knives – really sharp knives – are crucial for making good sushi. You’ll want to sharpen your knives, pat them down with tezu and then slice the rolls into your desired pieces. Reapply the tezu as necessary to prevent the rice from sticking to the knife. And now it’s time to garnish and serve. Here’s what we came up with:

This one was rolled inside-out and filled with cooked shrimp, asparagus and green onion and topped with tuna and salmon. This one got a 3 spoon vote from Mike and 2 spoons from me. We didn’t share this one with the kids as we’re hesitant to give them tuna.

Next came this one:

We rolled this one traditionally, with the rice on the inside, and filled it with shrimp tempura, green onions and cucumbers. This one got 4 spoons from Mike and Mr. N and a 3 spoon vote from me. Miss A wouldn’t touch this one. You’ll see why in a moment.

For the next one, we tried to replicate one of our favorites – baked spicy salmon.

This one was rolled inside-out featuring a spicy salmon (chopped salmon, mayo and sambal) on the inside with green onions, and for the topping we threw on some salmon and stuck it on the top rack of the broiler for about five minutes. We then added some more spicy salmon over the top and drizzled it with a spicy mayo (mayo and sriracha) and garnished it with tempura flakes. This got 4 spoons from Mike and I. We didn’t share this one with the kids due to the raw salmon and heat.

We made about four other rolls and then closed out with this…a heavenly dessert roll.

We again rolled this one inside-out and filled it with strawberries, mango and cream cheese. We topped the roll with more strawberries and mango as well as avocado. Finally we drizzled the roll with a bit of raw honey. This one received 4 spoons from Miss A and I (she spent all her time on this roll) and 3 spoons from Mr. N and Mike.

All-in-all our sushi night was a culinary success; however, we bow down to the masters. The amount of time, training and skill that sushi takes is just astounding. Everything from the quality of the rice to the freshness of the ingredients and from the artistic presentation to the utter skill required to produce dozens of these an hour…sushi chefs are truly gifted.

But while our food was tasty and we had fun with the kids, I think Mike and I will stick to making this on our own on New Year’s Eve. We love cooking with the kids and they are becoming quite adept (even expert) in the kitchen, but the amount of time and patience required for sushi is just a bit beyond them. Besides, it just always makes for a fun adventure for an at-home date night. So there you have it…our epic sushi adventure. If you do want to try it with your kids or friends…mise en place!!!!

Print this recipe: Sushi

42 thoughts on “Bowing Down to the Masters

  1. A_Boleyn says:

    I’ve bought marinated bbq’d eel frozen from a chinese grocery store. They also have it a the Japanese grocery store for use in sushi rolls … both places for ~$17.99 CDN for less than a pound. I have made something similar using catfish (basa is quite reasonable locally) that’s pretty tasty. It’s also sustainable.

    Catfish/ Eel Substitute

    1/2 cup mirin (rice wine)
    1/2 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
    1/4 cup sugar
    4 catfish (or basa) fillets

    Combine the mirin, shoyu, and sugar in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for half an hour until it thickens a bit. Let cool.

    Marinate the catfish in the sauce overnight. Pre-heat the oven to 350Β°F.

    Wrap the catfish fillets in individual foil packets (I just did one large package but make sure the fillets don’t overlap), pouring some of the sauce over each fillet. Place packets on a baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, keeping an eye on the catfish so it doesn’t overcook. Let cool. Enjoy!

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    • ChefDad says:

      This sounds good…we made eel once from frozen, but it was in the pre-blogging days and I don’t remember how we cooked it. The catfish sounds like a good way to go.

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  2. A_Boleyn says:

    I just visited and WOW!!! you did a terrific job on all your rolls. I don’t make dessert sushi but yours looked quite tasty. And BAKED salmon … yummy. Something I’ve never tried.

    A handy hint I learned recently for wrapping your rolling mat … use a new freezer bag instead of saran wrap. You just have to wash the bag/mat and all for quite some time without having to replace the bag. It’s more economical than using all that saran wrap, which I usually find a pain to wrap and unwrap.

    I love your rainbow roll of tuna (I envy you sushi grade tuna) and salmon and recommend adding thinly sliced avocado to the top as part of the alternating bands. Of course I add avocado to all my sushi rolls. I’m curious why you only gave it 2 spoons though. Along with spider rolls (tempura’edsoft shell crab) it’s one of my favourite rolls. They make a version with red snapper, white tuna and salmon at my new favourite sushi restaurant.

    If you like eel rolls, I have a catfish version that tastes almost like it … ok now I just HAVE to have sushi tomorrow!!!

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    • Kristy says:

      You’ll have to try the baked salmon. It’s fabulous! One of my favorites (from our local joint) hands down. We love the rainbow roll too. The version we usually order is a crunch rainbow that has shrimp tempura on the inside. And I’m with you – avocado is fantastic. I love it with the eel. Yes – definitely send your catfish roll recipe because unagi is one of my favorites, but we don’t have a clue how to cook that stuff. (Not that we haven’t tried. πŸ˜‰ )

      Great tip on the plastic bag too. I’ll do that next time for sure. Especially because I’m out of saran wrap now. And I think I gave our version a 2 only because I was comparing it to the one we get from the restaurant that we love. It was very good…just not as good as theirs. πŸ™‚

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  3. Sue says:

    Ha! We just went to bistro tonight for the first time in almost two months! I was having withdrawal symptoms. I ate that sayonara all by myself tonight! I can’t believe how much you put into this meal. You must have started at two in the afternoon.

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  4. Geni - Sweet and Crumby says:

    I feel so lucky to have seen this. It’s such a great how-to for sushi making. I haven’t ventured into making my own yet but I do LOVE sushi and would love to try it. What a great at-home date night! Your sushi looks amazing.

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    • Kristy says:

      Thank you Geni! That is so sweet of you to say. πŸ™‚ It’s definitely a fun date night. It’s totally interactive, inventive and lengthy – which for us always makes for great, distraction-free conversation. You’ll have to let me know if you guys give it a go.

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  5. Caroline says:

    Wow, awesome job Kristy, I’m so impressed! Your sushi looks like it could be served in a restaurant. I didn’t realize washing the rice was such a lengthy process. I have a feeling I’d be too impatient for that, ha! Everything sounds delicious…I’m loving the dessert sushi too!

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  6. ChgoJohn says:

    I followed you back from my blog and this is what I find? You making sushi like a pro? And your little angels helped? Nah, nothing intimidating about that! I’ll definitely be back but, I just have to say, this opening act will be mighty hard to follow. (Great post!)

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks John! Believe me…no need to be intimidated. πŸ™‚ It’s not that hard really…just requires a lot of time. Thanks for visiting. I enjoyed your site too!

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  7. thecompletecookbook says:

    I LOVE SUSHI!!! I have only made it once before with my hubby and my brother – we had an absolute blast! Yours all worked out perfectly even with the help of little hands.
    Beautifully put together post
    Have a happy evening.
    πŸ™‚ Mandy

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Mandy! It’s a lot of fun to make. We’d love to have a sushi dinner party sometime, but it will require some serious planning. I think it can be done though. πŸ™‚

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    • Kristy says:

      Yep…definitely a test of our patience (more so than their’s). That’s why we’re going to stick to making this on our date nights. But it was fun for them to join in this time – and as they get older I’m sure it will work out more often. I think having done this, they’ll be more excited about trying sushi with us at restaurants though.

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  8. Kay aka Babygirl says:

    Miss A did a wonderful job on that last roll. Delicious! You know I’m hesitant about sushi because I can’t get with the raw food taste. But I love the cooked sushi you have. So I think I will try that out. You guys are such a wonderful couple and great parents.. but you don’t need me to tell you that πŸ˜‰

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    • Kristy says:

      Oh there are so many cooked varieties…you’ll have to give some of them a shot sometime. That’s how I got hooked. And the dessert roll…no fish. πŸ˜‰ Thanks as always Kay!

      Like

  9. spicegirlfla says:

    I bow to you! Excellent truly excellent post! I bow to your patience with the kids and to detail this post so well. Your sushi looks really good, great variety too. I’ve made is a few times so I know the time involved. I’ve heard about the sushi scares lately but I just can’t give up my sushi!!

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Linda! Oh no! Sushi scares? I haven’t heard about those. I’m just going to not listen. I’m with you, I don’t know what I’d do without it! It was a definite experience with the kids. I think they enjoyed it, but next time we’re going to start a lot earlier in the day – or prepare way ahead of time. It got to be a bit late for them by the end.

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    • A_Boleyn says:

      Try a breakfast roll … crispy bacon, thin strips of omelet and cream cheese (and avocado). Only one of the many non-fish choices. I would also suggest thinly sliced bbq chinese pork with a bit of hoisin sauce and julienned cucumber. Or teriyaki chicken. Or seared Spam which is big in Hawaii with some pineapple strips and cream cheese.

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  10. Kelly says:

    Wow, what a project and such fantastic results! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen dessert sushi before – how exquisite, and I just love the baked spicy salmon. Tempura looks great too – I’d be tempted to add some coconut to the panko. What did you use to slice your mango and strawberries? (I see the tool but I’m not sure what it is – a mandoline variation?). Mr. N and Miss A working hard as usual – love it. What a great post.

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Kelly! The dessert sushi is wonderful! We had it a local sushi restaurant before and it the flavor combos really surprised us (in a good way). Miss A was a huge fan of that one – she loves avocado and mango. Coconut in the tempura…might have to try that at New Year’s! For the mango and strawberries I used a knife and a potato peeler (for the mango). For the cucumber I used a julienne slicer and we used a knife with the asparagus and green onion. πŸ™‚

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          • Kelly says:

            I was thinking that’s where it was from. What a gorgeous, candid shot. Thanks for letting me know about the salad – so glad Mike enjoyed… πŸ™‚ Leave for Maine on Friday (yeah!!)

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            • Kristy says:

              Oh so fun! Have a wonderful trip. We’ll get one more Maine recipe up tomorrow before you go. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to hear about your vacation! Safe travels!

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  11. kitchenbelleicious says:

    Yeah! You did it and such a great job you did too! I love it and i bet it was so much fun doing it with the kids. Grant was and still is too young but I can’t wait until he can get in the kitchen with me and do things like this! It all looks PERFECT

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  12. sallybr says:

    Now that’s something I’ve never ever attempted to do myself, and your kids put me to shame!

    awesome job! Your sushi turned out restaurant-quality, I am very impressed!

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Sally! The kids thought this was great…Miss A loved getting to fill them. And I think Mr. N’s little fingers are actually perfect for spreading the rice gently. I was totally impressed with both of them. I think it gave them a new appreciation for sushi too. πŸ™‚

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  13. thesanties says:

    Ok, w-o-w! I am always impressed by your posts but I think this one takes the cake. I literally wanted to eat the sushi through my screen! That salmon roll you guys created looks to die for. Spicy salmon is one of my favorites! I am thinking the Hubby and I might need to try this one day soon… Definitely a book marked post! Awesome post, as usual. πŸ™‚

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks so much! Spicy salmon is easily one of my favorites and when it has the freshly broiled (or torched at our sushi restaurant) salmon over the top…LOVE it! If you do try it – start early…the process can take a while. πŸ™‚

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Eva! We do too. It’s always so hard to find a sitter for New Year’s Eve, so it’s become our new favorite thing to make that evening. And it’s so much fun to experiment with different flavors and textures. Never boring. πŸ™‚

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  14. Charles says:

    GREAT looking sushi… so many different ingredients and colours, I’m hugely impressed! Never heard of tezu… sounds like a handy tip as that’s my primary source of unbridled rage when making sushi πŸ˜€ Looks like it’s something the kids had a lot of fun with too! Totally agree that it requires no small amount of time and patience but it’s often worth the effort I think. Well done all of you for this great post πŸ™‚ (ps… LOVE the picture of the tuna… I love tuna so much!)

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Charles! I had never heard of tezu until this class either – but OMG! The stuff is wonderful!!!! I love tuna too – wish it didn’t have the mercury issue or I’d eat it a lot more often!

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