Although I love eating sushi, I have never really been inclined to try to make it at home. Mostly because my favorite part about eating sushi is being able to try lots of different kinds of fish, and that’s just not feasible at home. But when I was given the chance to participate in a sushi class, of course I said yes!
Rick (my friend of granny’s chicken and dumplings fame) invited me to take the class being held at his house. His friend Yuuka arranged for Take Asazu, who owns the sushi trailer I tried a couple of weeks ago and also works at Uchi (supposedly the best restaurant in Austin—I would like to try it some day but that will have to wait until I’m not paying rent and a mortgage), to teach us some basic sushi techniques. On the menu: California rolls, rainbow rolls, spicy tuna handrolls and Rick’s interpretation of Uchi’s Pitchfork Roll (a wagyu beef roll) for the non-fish eaters.
Here’s where you experienced sushi-makers can stop reading and just skip to the pretty pictures.
First up were the California rolls. Take had the prepared rice in advance, which was a little unfortunate since I was looking forward to seeing the rice made. I suppose having us prepare the rice would take too much time. He did tell us how to do it though.
Sushi rice (which we learned is actually doppelt gemoppelt* since sushi means rice prepared in this way):
- 8 C Japanese short grain rice
- 8 C water
- 1 C rice vinegar
- 4/5 C sugar
- 1/5 C salt
1. Rinse the rice well and cook in a rice cooker
2. Mix the last three ingredients (sushi vinegar)
3. Spread the rice onto a large plate (or oke, a wooden sushi bowl) using a spatula. Sprinkle in the vinegar and fold the rice quickly, being careful not to mash the rice.
4. Fan the mixture as you mix it to cool the rice and remove some of the moisture. This also gives it a shiny appearance. Use immediately.
* “doppelt gemoppelt” is one of my favorite expressions in German; it means tautologous, redundant.
We then each took a sheet of nori and placed it rough side up on our cutting boards. Next, we grabbed a baseball-size fistful of rice, placed it in the upper right of the nori and spread it out along the top half. Then we spread the rice down from the top half to the bottom half, making sure not to compact the rice. We then sprinkled sesame seeds in a row across the middle and flipped the sheet over so the rice was facing down.
Next came the filling, in our case surimi, cucumber and avocado, which we placed in a thin layer along the middle of the nori. We then rolled the bottom up tightly over the filling then continued to roll until the seam rested on the mat. I forgot to mention that we had nifty gloves, which kept the rice from sticking to our hands. I think I would be tempted to buy some if I ever decide to make sushi at home. We then placed a layer of plastic wrap over the roll and used the bamboo mat to compress the roll. We then cut the rolls into eight pieces and compressed them again using the mat. The results were surprisingly professional!
After finishing (and munching on) our California rolls, we moved on to rainbow rolls. The process began the same way, minus the sesame seeds. Once our rolls were formed, we layered tuna, salmon, avocado and shrimp diagonally across the roll before compressing the rolls in the same way as the California rolls. The rainbow rolls are a little trickier to cut, but leaving the plastic wrap on and cutting through it was a big help.
We finished with spicy tuna handrolls, which were my favorite of the evening. Take started by mixing up the spicy tuna (sorry about the ounces):
- 8 oz. chopped tuna
- 2 oz. honey
- 1 oz. soy sauce
- 1 oz. chili powder (he used Korean chili powder)
- 1 oz. sriracha
- 1 oz. sesame oil
We began by taking a sheet of nori by hand and spreading a golfball-sized amount of rice over the left-hand side of the nori. Then we placed a strip of cucumber or avocado diagonally from the upper left corner to the bottom right corner of the rice, i.e. to about the bottom center of the nori. Next came a bit of the tuna mixture. We then made a cone by rolling the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the rice (top center of the nori) and then continued to roll until we reached the end of the nori.
I think we were all pretty impressed with our efforts and there was even mention of a second lesson. I’m looking forward to it!