Homemade Sushi Rolls?
I've made sushi rolls at home several times. Although it's a fun experiment, I don't make them on a regular basis for several reasons:
a) never tastes as good as avg. sushi place (I haven't had those yrs. of training on rice making, fish slicing, rolling, etc.)
b) hard to have as much variety (eating 20 Cali rolls gets old)
c) sushi-grade fish is very $$$ at market so it doesn't save any $
d) too time consuming for chopping, prep, rolling
That being said, it is fun to try it if you're curious. Would be a fun group activity w/ friends or older kids. I used a small cookbook I got as a gift, but I'm sure there are some good sources online. Filling suggestions: fresh crab w/ mayo, fresh tuna, spicy tuna, unagi or roasted eel (I buy frozen from Asian market), fresh or smoked salmon, pickled daikon, scrambled egg, cucumber, avocado, carrots, etc.--be creative and invent your own roll.
Some tips: dissolve a little sugar into rice vinegar and then add to sushi rice when warm, let cool; put a very thin, even coating of rice on nori (otherwise roll will be too big); to spread rice evenly, use your fingers which have been dipped in water first; julienne veggies evenly; use bamboo mat to roll and grip firmly; to slice, use a very sharp slicing knife that has been dipped in water before each slice.
When I do have very super fresh fish, I prefer to make poke, which is a Hawaiian dish. Cube raw fish (salmon or red tuna) and mix in scallions, yellow onion, nori pieces, sesame oil, soy, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds. Marinade for 30-60 min. in fridge and serve over sushi rice. YUM!
re: Carb Lover
I have been to friends and family`s homes in Japan for "temakizushi" parties. In lieu of making the maki zushi where you have to use a bamboo mat to roll it, you roll each one in your hand. Much easier, and each person can make what they want.
Stuffings? The prior email had great ideas. I would also add canned tuna (mixed with mayonnaise), umeboshi, natto, cucumber, cooked salmon seasoned with salt, kaiware (daikon sprouts), or whatever else suits your fancy!
The large piece of nori is cut in half. A square bit of rice is put off to one side of it, leaving part of the nori exposed to help secure it close. Add your toppings at a diagonal to the square, coming out from the corner of the square, which is also the corner of the piece of nori. That will be the "base" of your temaki zushi (resembling an ice cream cone) when you are done rolling it.
Very tough to explain. Hope you have the image in your head! Good luck!
re: Yukari Pratt
Sounds like you are describing what US sushi bars term as "hand roll"? Yes, that would be MUCH easier to make and afford more variety than regular rolls. Great idea--maybe I'll try that sometime.
Had a Korean friend make her version of rolls once (which she said were Korean), and they were REALLY good actually. Rice, scrambled egg, pickled daikon, cuke, carrot, and some sort of fish or meat--they were much tastier than mine. She actually seasoned w/ soy among the other fillings, so you didn't even have to dip them. Great idea if you want to serve at a party.
Another possible ingredient if you're not averse: SPAM.
re: Carb Lover
In Canada they're also known as hand rolls (and I think I've seen that Japanese term on the menu as well). However, unlike Maki Sushi, it's all the more important that your piece of nori is crispy without falling apart, as it can be very easy to turn the experience into a nori-chewing adventure.
Another thing I've seen around is the use of Korean hot/sweet chili sauce to dress raw tuna or salmon (which I personally enjoy).
re: Carb Lover
While I haven't had any nori I'd consider a large cut above the rest, a way to make the nori less chewy is to expose one side (some suggest the shiny side) of a sheet of nori to an open flame (I've yet to try it, but I've read such advice from several googled sources, try "toasting nori").
re: Carb Lover
I buy the cheapest nori, and toast it myself. All you have to do is set a cooktop burner (gas or electric) on low, and kind of drag the nori across the top...slowly enough that it heats up a bit, but quickly enough that it doesn't deform (or catch fire!). Do this repeatedly, rotating the nori to toast it evenly. It shouldn't take more than about half a dozen passes per sheet.
I've been making these for many years and they never fail to please. This is long and, I hope, tells you enough that you will be encouraged to try them. They aren't hard but take some time to assemble everything and put them together. The actual rolling part only takes half and hour or so. I've included recipes, technique and shopping lists.
The Rice Dressing:
3/8 cup rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ Tablespoon mirin
1 ½ Tablespoon sake or white wine or vermouth (optional)
2 Teaspoons salt
Heat all ingredients together in small sauce pan and stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Cool to room temp or refrigerate.
The Rice, for approximately 10 sushi rolls:
3 cups short-grain rice
3 1/4 cups water, approximately
Rinse the rice well in a fine mesh colander until the water runs clear. Drain the rice, place it in a heavy bottomed pot and add the water. Let it soak for 30 minutes. After soaking, bring the pot to a boil, boil for one minute, cover and turn the heat down to low. Steam/simmer for about 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes and if rice is dry add a *little* water. When done, the rice should be firm, grains separate, not wet or mushy but definitely cooked all the way through. Let it stand covered until you are ready to dress it, but get started while rice is still hot.
Dressing the Rice:
Dump the hot rice into a large, shallow container--you want lots of surface area and room to toss the rice. Sloped sides on the container make it easier. I use a big wooden salad bowl, but a wok or big plastic bowl would work. Pour about 1/4 of the dressing over the rice at a time. Using a rice paddle or wooden spoon, cut, lift and toss the rice so that it releases steam and cools. It is very important to fan the rice as this is done, with a small electric fan or the help of a partner, to help get rid of extra moisture so the rice absorbs the dressing and has the proper glossy look and firm texture. Dressing the rice takes about 10 minutes. Prepare rolls as soon as rice is cool and dressed.
1 lb small/medium shrimp, peeled & deveined, cooked quickly in boiling water and cut in strips
2 ripe avocados, cut in thin strips
scallions (one scallion leaf per roll)
cucumber strips (long seedless hothouse cukes are good and are long enough)
yellow daikon pickle in 1/4 inch strips
I like the above combination best. Other options are strips of omelet, strips of cooked shiitake mushrooms, briefly cooked thin carrot strips, black or white sesame seeds, imitation crab sticks, etc. Think about colors, textures, and salty vs sweet vs sharp flavors. A swipe of mayo is good on a veggie roll.
Set out all ingredients conveniently around you on a counter, including a shallow bowl of water for moistening and for cleaning your fingers. Place bamboo roller on a cutting board and place a sheet of nori on the roller, shiny side down and with its long side matching the edge of the roller closest to you. Scoop up about ½ cup of rice and dump it on the nori. Moisten your fingertips and spread rice evenly over the end of the nori, covering less than ½ of the sheet, pressing it down a little and going to the edges. You dont have to be extremely precise. Put a piece of daikon pickle, scallion, and cucumber down the middle of the rice. Add a few avocado slices and top with 6-8 shrimp strips.
Slide your thumbs under the roller, and hold the filling in place with your fingers. Pick up the roller and the nori, and bring it up and over the filling, pressing back on the filling to form a roll. Dont roll it all the way up yet. Holding roll in place, dip fingertips or knuckles of one hand into the water and wipe them across the free end of the nori, moistening it well so it will stick to itself and seal the roll. Then lift the end of the roller up and out of the roll, and continue rolling until the roll is complete and wrapped in the roller. Squeeze the roller firmly to consolidate the roll, and youre done. Sometimes I moisten the outside of the finished rolls slightly with water, to tenderize the nori.
This technique is simpler than it may sound. Your first roll might be a little loose, but the second and third will be better formed. Diameter should be about an inch and a half.
Clean up promptly; it can be sticky. A tooth brush is good for removing rice grains from sushi roller.
Serving the Rolls
Its best to wait half an hour before serving these, otherwise the nori might be tough and chewy. Do not put them in the refrigerator before serving, or the texture of the rice will deteriorate. They keep very well in a small cooler or plastic container with one of those blue freezer ice things in the bottom. These travel well to parties and youll impress the hell out of people.
With a very sharp knife, slice each roll into 3/4 inch slices, then turn them on their sides so they look pretty. Serve with sushi ginger, wasabi paste in dishes or piles on a platter and soy sauce in a small pitcher. Slice rolls as you need them. Go ahead and refrigerate leftovers, closely wrapped. They will still be very good but youll see how the rice has a different texture, more grainy and not quite so nice.
To prepare the wasabi, place about 2 tablespoons of the powder in a very small bowl, add water slowly and mix until a moist paste formsyou may like it thinner or thicker. Give it a few minutes to develop its flavor. The flavor will dissipate somewhat after about an hour at room temperature. Some people like to mix the wasabi right into the soy sauce.
Sushi Shopping List
From Asian Grocery (you can get the Sushi Chef brand supplies in some regular grocery stores, but they are very overpriced).
Mirin or aji-mirin (sweet rice wine only for cooking. Good for teriyaki too.) Kikkoman brand.
rice vinegar; Marukan is a common brand
Short grain rice (Kokuho Rose is a common brand. Dont be mistaken and get glutinous or sticky rice insteadyou dont want that. Its clearly labeled, but often next to the short grain)
Nori seaweed sheets (many brands, all just fine, come in packages of 10 usually)
Yellow daikon (giant radish) pickle, in the refrigerator section. Read the label when you buy this and be sure it isnt artificially sweetened w/saccharin, yuck. You want the long kind, the whole daikon root, about 12 inches long. The brand I usually get has what looks like a little Mexican (?!) boy in a sombrero on it. Cut it carefully into long strips, about 1/4 of an inch square, with a sharp knife. The pickle keeps well in its brine in the refrigerator in a airtight ziplock bag with most of the air pushed out. One pickle will make enough strips for at least 30 rolls if you cut carefully. This stuff is strongly flavored and thinner strips are better.
Pink sushi ginger in plastic bottle, in the refrigerator section.
wasabi powder: green horseradish powder sold in a small round tin often with picture of the horseradish root on the label.
Kikkoman soy sauce
Bamboo sushi roller (made of little pieces of bamboo, woven together with fine string, looking like a little place mat)
bamboo rice paddle, shaped like a large flat spoon with a short handle
From regular grocery:
Sake or white wine or vermouth (optional)
I cannot roll well for my life. However, using molds like this, it works out well for me. In my defense, I have been praised for rice, home made sushi ginger, pickled veggies and veggie rolls. Also put out a ponzu sauce as well as the wasabi and soy sauce. Don't skimp on the rice brand.
and this works out great for me as well: