We tend to eat sushi out once a week at our favourite easy kaiten (belt) sushi chain restaurant, and it is excellent for the old favourites and some maki choices, but sometimes you like to eat your own creations full of your favourite ingredients. Also, maki sushi is quite different from the nigiri sushi that is often at these restaurants, as it combines many ingredients.
One of the best things about the local supermarket is the fish section. It is stocked with various cuts and preparations of the many kinds of fish, from classic favourites to seasonal varieties. There are packages of pre cut slices for sashimi or nigiri sushi, long pieces for grilling… you can really go to town.
On this occasion, I bought a few things:
- two kinds of nori seaweed, one for hand rolls and one for the longer maki rolls
- premade rice (almost as fresh as homemade, but more convenient)
- salmon, crab and maguro
- burdock root, and some vegetables
Crab sticks. Not imitation, although that is also available.
Burdock root, or gobo
This mixed pack of sushi grade maguro tuna and salmon was about $5.50
At home I already had what I needed to flavour the rice, as well as cream cheese and various kinds of pickles and other fillings to put in the rolls.
As I have mentioned before, I think the rice is one of the best things about living in Japan. My favourite is sushi rice with a lightly flavoured taste of vinegar, sake and sugar. It is tangy and delicious.
I made my own sushi vinegar to add to the rice by combining these items:
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (you can use rice vinegar too)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 table spoon of mirin or sake/nihon shu
- 1/2 tablespoon of salt
Combine these in a small pot on the stove until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Will flavour about 4 cups of rice.
Combine into warm rice by folding it in, being careful to not crush the rice.
Buying rice is a bit of a cheat since the flavour is better when the rice is turned into sushi rice when it is warm and fresh.
You cannot substitute any other kind of rice, or turn arborio or Thai sticky rice into sushi rice by making it gooey and mushy, so please do not do this.
Assembly is easy. I did not want the rolls to be too filling because we wanted to try many different combinations, so I did not push the rice to the edge of the nori. Normally you would, otherwise you get…
…sad looking rolls like this. These deflated looking things were really good though.
You can mix and match each rolls. Here, toro chopped and mixed with soy, negi or green onions, crunchy Niigata Prefecture miso daikon pickles that were a present from our Japanese tutor, burdock root dipped in the same sushi vinegar mix I made for the rice and a cucumber. You want to combine the things you like, thinking about taste, smell, texture (crunch!) and color.
There are sushi mats you can use to roll up rolls, like inside out California rolls, but I just hand rolled these nori wrapped rolls. The sushi mats help the rice from sticking and keep a uniform size and look, if presentation is important. But we are rustic here at the ZeeCall household, and we are not so picky.
I also made some salmon, negi, cream cheese, sesame seed and cucumber rolls.
Finally, even more customizable, the hand rolls. You just stuff and fill the little squares of nori with rice, then the fillings you want, roll up and eat.
Crab, cucumber, negi and cream cheese.
Fun and easy!