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!

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matcha tea cakes

After indulging in a round of excellent sushi, there’s nothing I appreciate more than the nutty finish of a palm-sized mug of green tea. From genmaicha to gunpowder, green tea chases dynamites, bakudans and spicy tuna like nothing else on the market. It’s kind of like cappuccino after a great plate of pasta. It just works.

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That’s why I decided to make these green tea cupcakes for our sushi soiree last Friday. I’ve tried a few recipes and wanted to share the best ones I’ve found. They’re moist and light and boast a shade of jade that commands attention rather than being unappetizing. (I didn’t have our good camera at the party so if you’re disagreeing with that statement, please envision a grassy hue…there you go, perfect.) Keep in mind they also pack a punch of caffeine: not to be consumed while operating heavy machinery.

I didn’t have time to whip up the matching icing, so I used a container of leftover chocolate pudding, whipped cream and cinnamon. Accompanied by Mel’s mochi ice cream (new sen-SA-tions in and of themselves), these will heretofore be my chief post-sushi craving.

Because it’s crucial to understand the context of something as esoteric as the revered cake-in-a-cup, following are some pictures of the events leading up to said cupcake-mochi extravaganza:

Our resident fishmonger expertly skinning salmon; I’ll snare ya an skin ye biys!
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The women slaving away for their sailors (though the personal pay off wasn’t half bad)
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This was top-tier stuff

These little cakes would be a decadent enough item for a refined luncheon (such a funny word) or wild enough for a St. Paddy’s day green-themed party. Take your pick. When it comes to green cupcakes, it’s really all in the decorating.

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