Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sushi Saturday: Nigiri and Rolls Galore

Like the true heroes of the kitchen you undoubtedly view us as, Kevin and I fought through the fast approaching food coma compliments of our earlier Miso Soup, Edamame and Sapporo Tempura Shrimp and Zucchini to finish our mission and create some tasty sushi. Thanks to our excitement for the task and a complete misunderstanding of fiscal responsibility, we had purchased far too much to stop now.

It was finally time to brave the uncertainty of our Asian market fish and turn the night into something legendary.

Basic Ingredients for a Super Sushi Adventure
So focused and wearing my finest shirt!
Yellowtail (himachi)
Tempura Shrimp (see previous recipe)
Sushi Shrimp (but not super raw shrimp, that'd be bad)
Crab meat (stay clear of imitation even if it is way cheaper)
Cucumber, sliced long and thin
Avocados, sliced thin
Bamboo Rollers 
Saran Wrap
Sushi Rice
Spicy Mayo

Sushi Rice
Adapted from All Recipes

2 cups uncooked sushi rice
3 cups water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt

  1. Rinse the sushi rice in a strainer until the water comes out clear. Combine with the water in a saucepan or rice cooker, cover and cook for ~ 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Let cool.
  2. Combine the rice vinegar, oil, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until all the sugar dissolves. Cool then stir well into the cooked rice. 
  3. Always handle the rice with wet hands or wooden spoons dipped in vinegar and water to keep the rice from sticking.
This rice was billed as "Perfect Sushi Rice" from the random person who wrote the All Recipes article, so we had some pretty high hopes. Initially we were a little distressed by how vinegary and slightly sweet the rice was on its own, but, luckily, it actually goes extremely well with fish and managed to not shame its mysterious internet scribe.

Spicy Mayo
Equal parts Sriracha and Mayo
Alter the mayo/sriracha ratio to your taste
Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder

The secret to elevating even the most subpar sushi is the sweet kick of Sriracha based spicy mayo. I modeled this after the killer dipping sauce from my Heart of Palm "Crab" Cakes, but I just toned down the Cajun some.

Standard Nigiri

The basics of nigiri are simple. Just mold some sushi rice into a nice oblong shape, place a dab of wasabi on top to help stick the fish on and top with you expertly filleted sashimi. We made tuna, shrimp and the oh so perfect Texas Style Himachi, which deserves its own section.

Texas Style Himachi

Texas Style Himachi is the definitive nigiri in my opinion. Ever since being introduced to the powerfully spicy yet refreshing magnificence at Kubo's back in my impressionable college days, I have been a firm believer in this one cultural bastardization of sushi. For this slightly more complicated piece of sushi, top your rice with wasabi, a mint leaf, yellowtail and a jalapeno. Then lightly drizzle with some lemon juice. I may have made several extra of these as the night evolved into a roll making party because it was just too delicious to call it quits.
Just pure, utter perfection. Every simple layer is delightful.

Shrimp Tempura Roll

Everyone knows that if you want to feel properly disgusting from a sushi extravaganza, you're going to need to fill yourself with an ungodly amount of rolls.

To make a roll, cover a bamboo roller with saran wrap to prevent sticking. Then top that with a piece of nori, a thin layer of rice (that doesn't quite extend the full size of the nori) and your fillings. Rolling works best if you place all the ingredients toward the edge of the nori (and not the center as we were about to learn following that pic). Also, it's definitely worth cutting the pieces of nori to prevent from over-ricing the rolls. Once it's all rolled tightly, slice it evenly with the seam down. If your "skills" mimic our Kindergarten level ones, you will find yourself frequently tossing out the edge pieces, which may be a little uneven.

For our shrimp tempura roll we went with our previously made shrimp, avocado and cucumber. We then topped it with a little masago for some added crunch.
Our next great sushi excess will likely involve multi-colored masago because, damn, that'd be pretty. 

Inside-Out Yellowtail Roll

We decided to mix things up for our next roll by creating one that was inside-out. Simply put the rice before the nori, but beware this one is a little more unwieldy when it comes to cutting. Our filling consisted of yellowtail, cucumber and avocado (Are you noticing a theme? These are scientifically proven by us to give a nice combination of smooth, crunchy and refreshing.). We then rolled these in sesame seeds, but masago would also work quite well. Finally, feel free to top some pieces with tuna or shrimp for added color a la the rainbow roll. Another easy and delicious variation of this roll would be to substitute in the mint and jalapeno for a Texas Style Himachi roll (which I now severely regret not thinking of at the time).

We later realized that we spent $10 on roe purely for trying to make our sushi prettier...

Shaggy Dog Roll

Somehow Kevin's fancy camera even managed to make our shaggy dog roll look nice. My picture looked like an insane cry for help from two drunk children, so I will spare you from it.

To make the shaggy dog roll, top a shrimp tempura roll with crab meat (again, we highly recommend you spend the extra cash on real crab meat and not the cheap and not very shaggy imitation crab), spicy mayo and crispy tempura pieces (look at us being resourceful and using the failures from our frying).

Spicy Tuna Roll

The crown jewel of our rolls was without a doubt the spicy tuna roll. Our superb spicy mayo provided a creamy kick that made this by far the liveliest of our rolls. It's a shame that we saved this for last because we were no longer in any condition to truly appreciate its greatness.

The roll seemingly spewing out spicy tuna provides even more of a quote than the ever stoic Kevin did (but, darn it, how can I stay mad at those baby blues).
To make the spicy tuna roll cut your tuna in long, thin strips and dredge through the spicy mayo. Fill with the tuna and our standard cucumber and avocado. For added awesomeness and kick, top with jalapenos and diced spicy tuna.
Up close and personal with how to make the perfect roll even more delightful.
Our latest cooking bonanza may have been several months overdue, but it was quite possibly our best yet. We were extremely pleased with everything we made, but the Texas Style Himachi and Spicy Tuna Roll were the obvious highlights of the evening. We also learned an important lesson about excess, and will make sure to have at least 6 other people present the next time we decide to do this. Making sushi is incredibly easy and fun, so it's perfect for a big gathering of friends (who you can then make do all the work under the guise of "instructing"). Plus, everyone loves giant Japanese beers and sake, so we will be doing this again.
This may be my favorite pic because it looks like we're trying to sneak up on the sushi from below.

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