I am obsessed with Japanese food but I’m not particularly skilled at making it. Despite this I keep trying because my mother told me ‘if at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again’. This saying is so true that I now hear myself repeating it to my own children.
And here’s a good example. Despite failing many times to cook perfect sushi rice, I have kept at it and have finally found a method that works. I can’t tell you how pleased I am and I’ve got to write it down quickly for the record before it escapes me.
This is an amalgamation of two recipes – the first is from ‘Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking’ and the second is from the Japanese section of ‘The Essential Asian Cookbook’.
Staying with the Japanese theme, I also tried to make my own udon noodles this week. They weren’t too bad but I need to keep trying before I can confidently post the recipe.
This makes enough for 5 sushi sausages the length of a sheet of nori (about 20cm), ready to be cut into rounds
- 2 cups of sushi rice
- 1 ½ cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
First rinse the rice really well in cold water until the water runs clear. My technique for doing this is to measure the rice into a saucepan, cover with cold water and swill around with my hands until the water turns cloudy, then drain carefully using the lid (making sure no rice escapes down the sink). It’s quite therapeutic and I repeat this up to 10 times until the water is clear (well clearish anyway).
Drain and leave to the rice to rest uncovered for 30 minutes (this is Harumi’s tip and I think it’s the secret).
Add the water, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes with a tight fitting lid on.
Remove from the heat and leave for a further 10 minutes, still with the lid on.
Mix 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Stir this into the hot sushi rice (gently so that it doesn’t go mushy) then spread the rice out thinly on a baking tray or two and pop in the fridge to cool.
Sushi rolls (sushi maki)
You can use this rice for a variety of Japanese dishes. Shape it into ovals with your hands and place some thinly sliced raw tuna on top and you have a rough kind of sushi.
I prefer to make sushi rolls which are a nice alternative to sandwiches at lunchtime. You can stuff them with virtually anything. The ones in the photo above have teriyaki pork inside but you can also use raw tuna, raw salmon, cucumber, strips of omelette, avocado, tuna mayonnaise, egg mayonnaise. The last two don’t seem very authentic but they are very popular in Japanese Seven Elevens and are very popular with my children.
Cut out a sheet of greaseproof paper and put a sheet of cling film on top. Then place a nori sheet on top of that. You can buy nori sheets in most supermarkets these day. Using damp hands spread the rice thinly over about half the nori sheet leaving a small gap around the sides (1 cm).
Place a strip of filling in the centre of the rice and then, using the greaseproof paper/cling film to help you, roll the nori up from the bottom enclosing the rice around the centred ingredients. You will probably need to trim the nori, it needs to overlap slightly but you don’t want a double layer all the way round.
Now discard the greaseproof paper and wrap the cling film around the sushi roll a couple of times and twist the ends to make a nice, tight sausage shape. Place in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
When you’re ready to serve take a very sharp knife and cut the roll into rounds about 2 ½ cm thick. I find it easier to do this with the cling film still on and then remove it after cutting.
Serve with wasabi and soy sauce.
Note: My children go mad for an egg mayonnaise filling but they are not keen on the nori outer so I roll up without (as in the photo below).