Monday, August 30, 2010

CSA Adventures: Making Sushi

This has been our second year participating in the CSA farmshares, and we've received so many delicious veggies and fruits.  Though we've done a lot of stir frying, juicing, and salad making, I'm very proud of two uses of veggies in our household.  Specifically, I'm proud of two uses of our vast supplies of cucumbers.

The first one I'm excited to share is our adventures in making sushi!

I'm going to give the boyfriend credit for the sushi adventure, since he suggested it as a birthday celebration for him and two other Virgos.  Really, it was quite genius.

We ran into a slight obstacle that was easily solved, though we weren't necessarily sure of the success right away.

When you're preparing to make sushi, one of the most important things is to make sure you have good quality fish.  The first place we thought of was Whole Foods, but good quality fish also equals extremely expensive fish.  Luckily, the boyfriend and I have tried making sushi at home before, and we learned that our local Shaw's Market had pretty decent fish for much cheaper.  So, we went for the market fish once again.

There were 5 of us that were going to partake in sushi action, so I figured a pound of salmon and a pound of tuna would be good for us.  Well, it was definitely much more than enough!

Here's a list of all the items that we used to make sushi:
Glutinous Rice - We initially made about 4 cups of the rice, and then made another 6 cups after the first 4 cups were used.  However, we probably should have just made 6 cups of rice from the beginning, and we would have been fine.  At the end of it all, we were thoroughly stuffed and maybe used half of the 6 cups in the second batch.  Tip: The rice gets really sticky, and you want to make sure the rice cools close to room temperature before using it.

Rice Vinegar - Rice vinegar is really the best option for sushi rice.  After the rice is done cooking, you want to scoop it into another bowl, sprinkling rice vinegar on it for taste.  You can also used diluted rice vinegar (with water) to help the nori stay put after rolling a sushi, to wipe a sticky knife with, and to get rice off your fingers.
Marukan Rice Vinegar and Thai Glutinous Rice
Nori (Dried Seaweed Sheets) - I bought about 4 packs of 10 sheets.  We ended up using about one and a half of the packs altogether (including a couple of sheets that were snacked on).  The packs that I got were great mainly because of the tutorials on the back of the package on how to roll sushi and how to make the glutinous rice.

Wasabi - Truth be told, I'm not too keen on so much wasabi.  I don't add it to my soy sauce at all.  I think for me, the wasabi is too overpowering over the rest of the deliciousness.  But, alas, it is a sushi staple.

Soy Sauce - Another obvious sushi staple.

Spicy Mayo - It was super exciting to make some of this from scratch!  I had no idea what the ingredients were, but it's just so deceivingly simple!  Basically, you take some mayonnaise and some Sriracha and mix!  Add however much you would like and to taste. 

Cream Cheese - Apparently, according to the boyfriend who lived in Japan for 6 years, adding cream cheese to sushi is a mainly American creation.  Personally, I seek out any of those sushi rolls with cream cheese.  It's delicious with salmon.

Capers - This is probably never done anywhere!  One of the first rolls I made was with salmon, cream cheese, and capers.  It was like a Jewish sushi roll.  And it was delicious!

Avocado - Avocado is another item that I seek out when in a sushi restaurant.  This is definitely a delicious addition to any roll.

Chives - I don't know if I've ever had chives in a sushi roll, but this was an item that one of our friends brought to the table (pun intended!).  It adds a great flavor to any roll you could make.

Carrots - I think that carrots help to add a crunchy feeling to the sushi.  Again, this ingredient can be added to any sushi roll.

Cucumbers - The boyfriend loves cucumber rolls, simple and a perfect cooling roll for hot weather.
Makisu (Bamboo Rolling Mat) - This object is a very important tool in making sushi, perhaps only second important to really good knives.  The mat just helps to ensure that the sushi is tightly rolled, and it prevents your sticky fingers from continuing to stick to the nori.

Tamago - This is another favorite sushi ingredient.  The boyfriend usually likes saving the tamago rolls for the end, since they're sweet.  Tamago translates to egg in Japanese, and it's basically an omelet.  To make tamago, you mix 4 eggs, 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp of mirin (we used sweet wine and just added a bit more sugar, which was a great substitute), and 1/2 tsp of soy sauce.  You can cook flat it in a pan, and if you want to flip it to make it cook evenly, then you can slide the omelet onto a plate and use the plate to flip it over to the other side.  At least, this is the strategy I use since I lack fancy flipping skillz.  You can fold the cooked tamago to make a nice thick layer of deliciousness over rice.
Shrimp - How could we not have shrimpy sushi rolls?  I believe some shrimp was added to a tuna roll at one point in the evening.  But shrimp with any of the other veggies is just so good.  Perhaps next time we will take it up a notch and make shrimp tempura to put in our rolls.

Tuna - A nice steak of tuna should be somewhat purple-ish/pink-ish, with a lighter pink in the middle.  Spicy mayo and tuna is really a great roll, so we had several combinations of this.

Salmon - Salmon rolls are tops!  The fish butcher ( that the correct technical term for them?) gave me slightly more than a pound, and we only had to cut off the skin.  Salmon with avocado is a tasty option, and if you add some cream cheese..well, you just can't go wrong.
See food?  Why, yes!
As there were 5 of us, we each took turns making a roll and then cut them into 5 sections.  By the end of the evening, including the fact that we made a bigger batch of rice the second time around, we were stuffed.

Usually, I feel like I could just keep eating sushi forever.  I didn't even count how many rolls I ended up ingesting, but I can tell you that I felt like I was pregnant with sushi on our way home.

Two pounds of fish plus shrimp was definitely much too much for the 5 of us.  Perhaps if we had around 10 people, the amount would have been perfect.  The boyfriend and I ended up packing up the leftover fish and sliced veggies to plan to make sushi again.
Sushi success!
This morning, as we awoke to find that none of us had any food poisoning mishaps, we are proud to say that this session of sushi making was a success.  We definitely would love to do it again.  Interestingly enough, the boyfriend and I are psyched to make more sushi for dinner this evening!

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