Our hosts required four main parts for this challenge: Making proper sushi rice and making three types of sushi from this rice — Dragon sushi roll (an avocado covered inside-out rice roll with a tasty surprise filling), Decorative sushi (a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut) and Nigiri sushi (a hand-shaped rice rolls with toppings.
For the sushi rice, just make sure you use short grain. They are stickier and the best for sushi. In the past, I have used short grain brown rice and it works okay, but not as good as short grain sushi rice. For the dragon roll, I didn’t have any eel available so I used a spicy crab and shrimp tempura filling. It was a little trickier to roll than regular sushi but worth the effort if just for the “oohh” and “aahhh” factor when you serve it on the table!
Here’s a simple recipe for the spicy crab filling I used. You can use this for any kind of sushi but we like this with Inari or the tofu pouches. Yumm!!!
Spicy Crab Filling
- 1 cup cooked crab
- 1/4 cup Japanese mayonnaise
- 1 tbs sriracha sauce
Mix all ingredients carefully. Adjust seasoning (add more or less of sriracha sauce) to taste. You can also add chopped green onions for added flavor.
As for the rest of the sushi, I made it simple. The decorative sushi had several strips of cucumber, carrots, seafood salad and shrimp. Drizzle a little bit of mayonnaise on the top before rolling and you have a quick appetizer. Once rolled and cut to bite-size pieces, the fillings are supposed to show off decoratively.
For the nigiri sushi, a cooked shrimp adorned the top of the sushi rice and then wrapped with a strip of nori sheet. You can, of course, use any topping you want. The possibilities are endless: eel, salmon, avocado, tuna, chicken teriyaki, beef, etc. You can even put a smidgen of wasabi on top of the rice before placing the topping for a wonderfully spicy surprise!
Well..if you are up to experimeting, here is the recipe and instructions provided by the hosts. Enjoy!
PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)
- 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
- 2½ cups water
- For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water
- 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavours
- 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)
Sushi vinegar dressing
- 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
- 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
- 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt
* Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.
* Tip: While the rice is draining, soaking and cooking prepare your rice vinegar dressing, sushi fillings and toppings.
PART 2 : Dragon Rolls (also called Caterpillar Rolls)
- 1 sheet 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm) of toasted nori (dried seaweed sheets), cut into halves
- 1/2 Japanese cucumber
- 2 cups of prepared sushi rice
- Glazed Barbecued Eel (ungai) (about 3½ ounces or 100 grams)
- 1 Avocado
- Vinegared Water – ½ cup of water combined with a dash of rice vinegar
- Various small amounts of sauces to use as the flames of the dragon (or legs of a caterpillar)
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams or 1 oz) Fish Roe (Fish eggs)
1.Cut cucumber into strips ¼ inch (6mm) x 7” (175mm) long, then salt, rinse & dry the strips.
2.Grill (broil) the eel for about 2-5 minutes until bubbling. Cut into two lengthwise strips.
3.Halve, pit and peel the avocado. Cut the avocado halves into thin even 1/8 inch (3 mm) slices. Fan out the cut avocado into a 7 inch (175 mm) overlapping pattern.
4.Cover bamboo mat with plastic wrap. Place a sheet of nori shiny side down, lengthwise, on the edge the mat.
5.Moisten lightly your hands in the bowl of vinegared water.
6.Place one cup of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
7.Flip the rice-covered nori over (so the bare nori is now on top) and place on the edge of the mat closest to you.
8.Arrange one of the eel strips across the length of the nori, not quite centred on it but a little closer to you. Place half the cucumber sticks next to the eel.
9.Lift the edge of the mat closest to you with both hands, keeping your fingertips over the fillings, and roll the mat and its contents until the edge of the mat touches straight down on the nori, enclosing the fillings completely. Lift up the edge of the mat you’re holding, and continue rolling the inside-out roll away from you until it’s sealed. Tug at the mat to tighten the seal. If the rice doesn’t quite close the roll add more rice in the gap and re-roll using the mat to completely cover the inside-out roll. Place the roll on a damp, clean smooth surface.
10.Spread about 1 tablespoon of the optional fish roe along the entire top of the rice-covered roll. Using the plastic covered mat gently press the fish roe so it adheres to the rice.
11.Slide a knife under one fan of avocado and transfer it onto the top of an inside-out roll. Gently spread out the avocado layer to cover the entire roll. Lay the plastic wrapped mat over the avocado-covered roll. Squeeze very gently to shape the roll.
12. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the roll. Slice the roll into 6-8 equal, bite-sized pieces, wiping your knife with a damp towel before each slice. Discard the plastic wrap. Repeat the above to make one more roll.
13.Arrange the cut pieces on a serving plate with the sauces so the finished dish appears as a dragon breathing fire and flames (or a caterpillar with many legs).
PART 3 : Spiral Sushi Roll
This is easiest ‘decorative’ sushi roll.
- 2½ cups prepared sushi rice
- 2 sheets of toasted nori, each sized 7”x8” (17.5cmx20cm)
- Six assorted fillings, each filling should be the size of a pencil (see note below)
1.Join 2 sheets of nori by moistening the adjacent edges and overlapping them about ½ inch (12mm).
2.Place this double sheet shiny side down on a rolling mat, part of the nori will extend beyond the mat.
3.Using moist fingers place 2½ cups of rice on the nori and gently rake your fingertips across grains to spread rice evenly, leaving ¼ inch (6mm) nori showing on the both ends of the sheet. Do not mash or squash the rice onto the nori, the rice should appear loosely packed and be evenly distributed over the entire sheet, you should be able to see the nori sheet in a few places.
4.Using your fingers form six grooves (in the same direction that you will be rolling the mat) at even intervals across the bed of rice. Make the first groove about 2 inches (50 mm) from the edge of the nori sheet. Form the grooves by pushing the rice away, do not mash or squash the rice, leave a loose one grain layer of rice in the bottom of the grooves. Level the areas between the grooves where you have pushed the rice.
5.Place your fillings in the grooves. Fill the grooves a little higher than the surrounding rice bed.
6.Then roll the sushi up from the edge closest to you, this will form a spiral pattern of nori, rice and fillings inside the roll.
7.Slice into 8 pieces with a very sharp wet knife, wiping the blade with a damp cloth after each cut.
8.Place the pieces on a platter and garnish.
PART 4 : Nigiri Sushi
Nigiri sushi is the type of sushi most often made in sushi bars. In Japanese, nigiri means “squeeze”.
- 2 cups prepared sushi rice
- 8 pairs of assorted toppings, 200 gms/7 ozs total of fish, meat or vegetables (see note below)
- 1 tablespoon Wasabi (paste, reconstituted powder) or any other paste to adhere topping to rice
- Garnishes such as Ginger (pickled), chilli strips, vegetables flowers etc
- Thin strips of nori or vegetables (for tying topping on)
1.When handling sushi rice, make certain your hands are very clean. To keep the rice from sticking to our hands moisten your hands with vinegared water.
2.Form nigiri sushi by scooping up a small amount (about 2 tablespoons) of rice with your forefinger and second finger of your right hand and placing it in your cupped left palm.
3.Use the fingers and thumb of your right hand to form it into a long, narrow mound (about 2 inches x 1 inch wide or 50mm x 25mm) in your cupped palm.
4.Press enough to make the rice hold firmly together. Place the nigiri on a damp cutting board flat side down. Don’t let sushi touch or they’ll stick to each other. At this point, you can cover the sushi with plastic wrap, and they’ll keep at room temperature (not the refrigerator) for several hours.
5.Smear a thin line of wasabi on top of the rice and place the topping piece on it. You may need to press the topping down lightly with your fingers and adjust the shape of the rice accordingly to form an attractive piece of nigiri sushi. If your topping is very loose like fish roe you can place a strip of nori (higher than the rice) around the nigiri and form ‘battleship’ sushi. The cavity that the nori forms holds the topping so it does not fall off.
6.Garnish as desired and use strips of nori (or vegetable) to tie the topping to the nigiri if needed.
7.It is customary to make nigiri sushi in pairs, so make two of each variety.