Before you finalize your food plans for the Super Bowl — wings, chili, guacamole — why not add in something new— sushi. Yes, that's right, sushi!
"I prefer my fish cooked, thank you. No raw fish for me."
If this is the first thing that crosses your mind when you think of sushi then think again. Sushi doesn't have to have raw fish; there are plenty of variations using cooked seafood, tempura, all manner of vegetables, even cream cheese! Jordan Rubin, chef at the new Middleton restaurant Maggie's Farm, recommends trying his California Roll recipe, which uses cooked crab meat: "It's great 'cause it's fully cooked, so if you are not ready to try the raw fish, this is something you could definitely start with."
The California roll, as the name suggests, was developed in Los Angeles to suit local tastes; this was not initially about an aversion to raw fish, although that probably has a lot to do with its widespread popularity. According to the California Rice Commission, which details the history of sushi in the U.S. on its Sushi Masters website, "the California roll was created to substitute for a maki roll made with toro (fatty tuna)." Its creator, Chef Mashita at Tokyo Kaikan restaurant, substituted avocado for toro when the fish was out of season since it was thought to have a similar texture and flavor. The commission also poiny out that uramaki (inside-out roll) was created in America because, when sushi was first being popularized in the 1970s, "Americans had trouble eating the seaweed wrap called nori ... they preferred not to see the seaweed."
"OK, but making my own sushi? Really? Wouldn't it be easier to buy it from the store?"
Sure it would be easier, but it wouldn't be nearly as fun. And, as Rubin demonstrates, it really isn't as hard as you might think. You just need to buy a sushi mat for a few dollars, some wasabi, soy sauce and make sushi rice with rice wine vinegar. Plus, if you are making it yourself you have the freedom to experiment with all manner of fillings and condiments. As Rubin says, "we're making this at home and we can do whatever we want."
Sushi is a great party food because it can be easily eaten with your fingers (forget the chopsticks!). Just plate it up on a serving platter alongside the traditional accompaniments of wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger, as Rubin does, and let your guests do the rest.
Note: Sushi supplies such as the rolling mat, nori seaweed paper and wasabi are readily available in supermarkets, major chain stores and online.
California Sushi Roll
For Sushi Roll
8 ounces fresh crab meat (Jonah, Peek, cooked)
1 tablespoon Yuzu mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
4 sheets of nori sushi paper, cut into 2 inch by 4 inch pieces
1 small bowl of sushi rice
1 ripe avocado
1 cucumber, thinly sliced julienne style
For sushi rice
Here is a recipe for making sushi rice. Japanese rice is short grain rice and gets slightly sticky when it is cooked. Long grain rice isn't proper for sushi because it is drier and doesn't stick together nearly as well.
3 cups Japanese rice
31/4 cups water
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
For Yuzu Mayo
Yuzu is a Japanese citrus that has a more floral taste than regular lemons. Japanese mayonnaise is richer than regular mayonnaise because it uses more egg yolk.
1 cup Japanese mayonnaise (substitute would be any typical mayonnaise)
2 tablespoons Yuzu lemon juice (substitute would be lemon juice)
For Sushi Roll
1. Fold crab and mayonnaise lightly in a bowl. Add two pinches of chive and mix.
2. Take sheet of the nori seaweed paper and lay on the counter or cutting board horizontally.
3. Take handful of sushi rice, about the size of a racquetball, place on upper left of nori paper and lightly spread evenly around the paper until it is completely covered. Turn nori over so that the rice side is down.
4. Take avocado, which if ripe should be slightly soft to the touch, cut off stem end. Quarter, separate and remove seed and skin. Slice each quarter into about four strips.
5. Lay two pieces of avocado, several cucumber strips and enough crab meat to cover onto the center of the sheet of nori. Be careful not to add too much crabmeat so that you can close the roll.
6. Roll up the roll with the rice on the outside. (It should stick easily with the sticky sushi rice.) Cover sushi mat with plastic wrap and place over roll, pressing lightly to evenly form a round roll. Pat ends so that they are even.
7. Lay out roll and cut into two equal pieces. Place two pieces together and by eye cut into three equal parts, so that you end up with six pieces.
Serve sushi pieces on a plate with a garnish of wasabi and pickled ginger. Add a small bowl of soy sauce to mix with wasabi if desired.
For Sushi Rice
1. Wash rice with cold water and repeat until the water becomes nearly clear.
2. Drain and set aside for 30 minutes. Cook the rice by adding water per package instructions.
3. Make sushi vinegar by mixing the vinegar, salt and the sugar in a sauce pan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture.
4. Place the hot steamed rice onto a large plate or a large non-metallic bowl to prevent any interaction of metal with rice vinegar. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice quickly but being careful not to smash the rice. The sushi rice should have a shiny look and should be used as soon as possible.
For Yuzu Mayo
1. Whisk mayonnaise and juice together.
2. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Recipes courtesy of Jordan Rubin, Maggie's Farm, 2012.