In our house we all love a bit of sushi, and wish we could have it more often. I love the slight sweetness of the rice with the tartness of the pickled ginger and I’m a sucker for nori and seaweed salads. We all love salmon and mackerel, California rolls with plenty of avocado, as well as teriyaki chicken and the bite of wasabi spiked soy sauce to dip it all in.
A recent trip to an Asian grocers in Soho restocked my cupboards with nori sheets, a jar of pickled ginger and a tube of mean looking wasabi as well as bag of sushi rice and a bright idea. It might leave you sushi purists reeling – but how about a simple DIY sushi session – just rolling your own?
It turned out to be a huge success and an easy, healthy way to knock up a simple dinner and use up leftovers. You will need:
1 pack of Nori (seaweed sheets)
some soy sauce
pickled ginger and wasabi paste
and a quantity of rice, preferably sushi rice, which you will need a bit of time to prepare See below
and then a few of the following:
smoked salmon pieces
left over roast chicken, warmed through with teriyaki sauce, soy or sesame oil
tofu, cut into cubes and fried in sweet chili sauce
plently of avocado slices
sliced spring onions
slices of cucumber which you can quickly pickle by scrunching them up with salt and leaving them for 10 minutes (rinse them gently before eating)
To cook the rice:
Place 300g sushi rice in a bowl and cover with water. Gently rinse the rice with your hand to release the milky white starch, then drain through a sieve. Do this several times until the water runs clear, then allow the rice to drain in the sieve for as long as you have – an hour would be best.
When you are ready, put the rice in a heavy based pan and cover with 330ml of water and a lid. Bring it to the boil, but you need to keep the steam in side, so do not lift the lid. A clear lid makes this easy! It should take about 5 minutes to boil, after which you reduce the heat and cook the rice for another 5 minutes. Then turn the heat off completely and leave the rice to stand and cook in it’s own steam for anther 10 minutes. With so little water content, it’s easy to burn the bottom so watch the rice for the whole cooking time.
Sushi vinegar is easy to make using rice vinegar, salt and sugar, but you can of course use mirin, which is already prepared sweetened rice vinegar, sold in most supermarkets. You should have about 600g of cooked rice, so use:
60ml rice vinegar, 30-60g sugar and 3 tsps of salt and this will give you enough to sprinkle over your sushi rice. As a general rule, use less sugar if you are eating raw fish, but more if you are eating cooked foods such as smoked mackerel or eggs.
For 600g of sushi rice, use about 5 tablespoons of sushi vinegar.
When you are ready, tip the hot cooked rice out into a wide flat-tish dish and use a spatula, dampened with water, to gently break the rice up. Sprinkle your sushi vinegar on to the rice two tablespoons at a time and then cut through and ‘fold’ your rice, being careful not to over mix it or make it mushy. You can then cover the bowl with a damp t-towel until you need it.
Simply lay out the ingredients on small plates or dishes and then make sure everyone has a soy/wasabi dipping bowl, some chopsticks , a plate and clean hands! Using scissors, cut each nori sheet into 2 and using your own ingenuity and personal preferences, load up a wrap in a cone or roll, moistening the nori with a dab of water or soy sauce to stick it down. It’s messy and delicious and ticks all the right sensory buttons for some delicious Japanese tastes and a light, healthy lunch or dinner.