sushi for the scattered

Sometimes you just don’t have time for a sushi party. Sometimes, when you’re surprised with July in the guise of April cool food is what you crave. Add to the mix an apartment that manages to keep itself 8 degrees hotter than the day’s high, and no one’s getting this good looker anywhere near her cooker. (All this was reported before Darling Husband brought home a portable air conditioner. No more boiled Jenny for dinner! And forgive me for calling myself good looking; I just couldn’t resist the saying.)

When the conditions are so, it is time for scattered sushi:

The other day a brief but precious rainfall interrupted some steady summer temperatures with a (I didn’t actually say this in April, did I?!?) refreshing cool. I seized the opportunity to turn on my stove – something I don’t dare when it’s over 25 (77 for the Yanks) – to make some sushi rice. I have a foolproof recipe that I swear takes half the time it does in any fancy-pants rice cooker.

At dinner time all we had to do was slice up a third of a pound of fresh salmon Mark darted out to grab, a half avocado, some scallions, a red pepper, and a bit of cucumber and our dining room morphed into our very own sushi bar. A funky paper lantern recently purchased from the Ottawa IKEA, and a bottle of French Chenin Blanc from an empyreal friend rounded out the meal nicely.

You don’t have to know how to make sushi for this meal. All you need are the ingredients for sushi, and you’re set. However, once mastering this meal, it’s just baby steps to the real thing. But when you MUST HAVE SUSHI NOW and aren’t feeling picky about appearances, this is a noble substitution — not to mention aesthetically pleasing in its own right, the ingredients in your bowl distinct in their raw purity.

Instructions follow, but for those of you interested in making the rolls and all, check out my collection of how-to videos:

  • over the pond these women win for the best accents, best rice making info, and great rolling advice.
  • In this one the chef does it a little differently than we do, using a half sheet of nori instead of a full. But he has some great tips I can’t wait to apply, like spreading the rice and cutting techniques.
  • this one is haphazard but cute, reflecting how I usually roll it.
  • this one provides incredibly thorough steps on how to make nigiri.
  • You want to learn fast? this one will teach you, in true Japanese rapid-fire form!

Scattered Sushi

serves 4

Ingredients needed for this recipe and rolled sushi (look at Asian markets and in the Asian section of well-stocked grocery stores):

nori Paper (there is a variety out there. Experiment. Don’t pay more than 5$. You want sheets, not flakes.)

short-grained sushi rice (available in white and brown. We like to use half and half for a chewier, nuttier flavour.)

sesame seeds

pickled ginger

wasabi powder or paste (the former you mix with water to desired consistency)

soy sauce (we like Kikkoman dark)

unseasoned rice vinegar

assortment of fresh vegetables, including peppers, avocado, scallions, reconstituted or fresh shitake mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, cucumber

fresh raw fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel)

First the Rice:

3 cups sushi rice, rinsed twice and soaked for awhile, if time

3 ¼ cups water

  1. Bring rice, water and a pinch of salt to a rapid boil, cover and turn heat to low, cook 25-30 minutes.
  2. Dissolve 1 T sugar and 1 tsp salt in ½ cup rice vinegar heated gently in the microwave or in a saucepan. Pour over cooked rice and fold in with a rice paddle or spatula. Let the rice cool to room temperature.

Then the Rest:

Set the table with sliced and diced vegetables, bowl of sticky rice, sliced raw or seared fish, soy sauce and wasabi for dipping, pickled ginger, and nori paper or flakes. Eat with chopsticks or a fork, or hold pieces of nori in your palm, spoon on some of each ingredient, roll into a makeshift roll or cone shaped “handroll.” Dip into soy sauce/wasabi mixture, and enjoy! All the sushi flavour without the fuss! The perfect cool summer treat.

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