Experiments in Sushi

So I recently I’ve been experimenting with making sushi, I tried making temaki (hand rolls) the other day but couldn’t roll them properly. But yesterday I the classic sushi roll type of sushi. I believe what I made is a type of makizushi, meaning rolled sushi. I believe temaki is a variation of makizushi (rolled sushi) but that makizushi seems to often refer to the classic sushi rolls cut into pieces. I think what I made could be further categorized under norimaki or hosomaki, but I could be wrong. It is definitely makizushi though. I was also given a can of inarizushi no moto recently so I made a couple pieces of inarizushi which is really simple as you just have to shove it into the pouch. I am definitely a complete beginner with this but I will share what I learned so that it may seem more accessible to any other complete beginners that want to give it a shot, because before I tried it I thought of it as a daunting challenge. I would also suggesting looking online for a step by step guide to making sushi, done by an expert.

So here is what I learned from the experience, sort of list of beginners mistakes that I know not to make now:

– First off, I thought this would be more difficult than temaki because I don’t have bamboo rolling mat (makisu) but then I read somewhere that you can make it using a towel so I gave it a shot and found it was actually much easier than temaki.

– I made two rolls (two nori sheets) and it took more rice than I expected, close to one cup dry for the two rolls plus the inarizushi. I did snack one a few spoonfuls though. I used brown short grain rice and added rice vinegar myself, which to make it sticky enough I had to cook it longer than I would normally cook rice and with more water.

– For fillings I used cucumber, carrot, celery, and some fried yam covered with toasted sesame seeds. For two rolls, you don’t need a lot of fillings.

– As I said I used a towel to roll it. I took the rice all the way to the edge on the side closest to me (I rolled away from me) and left an a few centimetres clear on the far side, wetting that edge slightly so it would stick together.

– When it comes to cutting it, I found it necessary to take it off the towel and put it on a hard surface or else the roll would warp. I wanted to make the pieces slightly smaller than often found at a restaurant but I found the pieces would keep their shape better if I made them the normal size, too small and they lose their shape. A sharp knife is also key, a dull knife means squished sushi.

– I used Hime brand inarizushi-no-moto from a can. It was pretty good but I wouldn’t say had the quality of what you get at a good sushi restaurant (it was from a can). I patted down the pieces with a paper towel as they were dripping with the oily canning liquid.

Overall, while far from restaurant quality, I was happy with the final product. It satisfied my sushi craving and having it with a pot of loose leaf green tea and some grapes and dark chocolate for a desert made it feel like I pretty fancy meal. I really appreciate Japanese cuisine for a couple reasons. One is the general healthfulness of it, the average life spans of that country indicate they are doing something right. And the second reason is that I appreciate how deliberate that act of eating is. As long as the traditions are not just done for traditions sake, the customs surrounding eating encourage mindfulness, health, and a true appreciation of the meal in its entirety, things generally lacking in modern North American culture. As Thoreau wrote in his journal: “We live too fast and coarsely, just as we eat too fast, and do not know the true savor of our food.”

EDIT: I gave it another shot today, I think it worked out a little better. The rolls were a bit neater and I put in more veggies (cucumber, carrot, red pepper). Also pictured is sunomono, a Japanese salad for which I used cucumber (I have cucumbers galore right now), fresh peas, toasted sesame seeds and a rice vinegar/soy sauce dressing.

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