In my last post you saw one of the nice sushi meals that I have eaten here in Japan. I know you already know sushi is a popular Japanese food. In reality, most sushi is expensive and the Japanese don't go out to eat it all the time. Rather it is used for special occasions. But this doesn't mean it is not fun to make at home, that is if you are skilled enough. On the base I had the opportunity to take a sushi cooking class with some of the local Japanese ladies that help out over at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center on the base. I am also signed up for 2 more classes this month, and I can't wait to share what I learn from those.
Before I get in to the sushi lesson, I wanted to share this with you. Any ideas what is inside? I will give you a hint. I bought this to eat at the movies. Any guesses? (Yeah, you probably won't guess, sorry!).
If you guessed cheesy potatoes then you are correct! I loved that this was a reasonable portion of skin-on potatoes, with just the right amount of cheese on top. How funny is that! I ate these at the movies! Haha, I am still laughing about it!
Moving on to the sushi lesson. Here are some of the ingredients we used that day. You will see salmon (that portion there cost about $4), nori paper, soba noodles (you will see why later), surimi (AKA imitation crab), and canned tuna fish.
When we got there the ladies had already started so that we had some prepared ingredients ready to go. Here you can see they are making omelets. Wondering why? I did too. Turns out there were two reasons for this. The first was because it would be used as garnish and the second was because, well hold on, that would give away a cool sushi making technique, so more on that later.
To start off you need sushi rice. This is not just any old rice. Sushi rice is more than just rice. Here is a link to a recipe that can be used if you want to try making sushi at home. A key ingredient for this is vinegar. The rice needs to be nice and sticky too.
The first sushi they taught us to make was gunkan-maki. This is where a small ball of rice is formed and then the nori (dried seaweed paper, although nori really means any kind of seaweed) is wrapped around the outside and the top becomes like a little bowl where you can put in ingredients. We filled ours with a tuna salad. The tuna salad was made with some mayo and miso. The cucumber and egg were used as garnish. In many sushi restaurants you will find this kind of sushi filled with fish eggs most commonly.
This was my attempt. Not nearly as pretty as the one above made by our "chef", but not a bad first try.
Next up we rolled some sushi. To do this we used a mat that is specific for sushi making. This is covered with plastic wrap to make it easier to "retrieve" your sushi after it is rolled. This kind of sushi is known as maki sushi. You have probably tried these before if you have ever been to a sushi restaurant in the US.
Roll, roll, roll!
First I watched the ladies make their rolls. Ok, I watched them a few times.
Another important tip is to clean the knife off with a damp cloth in between each cut you make in the roll.
Perfect looking sushi!
So here I go, trying to make my own rolled sushi. Ryan and I once made sushi at home, and it turned out nicely, but he did most of the rolling, so technically this is my first real attempt. One key tip is wetting your hands before grabbing the rice because if you don't you will never get the rice back off your hands and onto the nori paper. You cover much of the piece, but not all of this. Then you can add fillings. We had some cucumber, pickled veggies, and imitation crab.
Then I rolled mine up. Ok, not the prettiest thing I have ever made.
But inside I think it turned out pretty nicely. Needless to say, I think I do need some more practice.
While I was busy doing that, the ladies were busy making more sushi for our little sushi party. This time they made some nigiri. This kind of sushi is a small mound of rice with raw fish on top. usually it is raw fish, but I have had it with eggplant and also with egg (cooked, a Japanese omelet, which is a sweet egg dish), and Ryan has even had this with little tiny hamburger patties. In this case, the ladies made it with salmon on top, which is one of my favorites!
Here you can see something a little different. Remember earlier in the post when I showed you the omelet? Instead of using nori, they used egg as the "paper". I love this idea! I had this once before from the grocery store sushi I like to buy, but I didn't really realize this was it's own kind of sushi, I just thought the grocery store made their own thing up. Haha, now I know better!
Look how this is done. She is so gentle with the thin egg and the sticky rice. I think I may give this one a try one day at home.
Another one that I think will amaze you. Any ideas what this is...besides a heart, panda and star? Unless you are Japanese or have been to Japan I am not sure you could even guess, not even if your wildest dreams.
Did you guess hard boiled eggs? I am not kidding. Check this out. So, after you hard boil the egg, you peel it and then stick in a mold. Once it is in there and you close the lid, it gets refrigerated and then slides out in these cute shapes. I need to get some because I think making deviled eggs for parties in fun shapes would make me super cool.
Last up was the craziest of them all. One of the ladies has her own specialty sushi that she personally created, and she shared it with us. Here we have soba noodles. Soba and rice are both starches, so why not swap out the rice for noodles, right?!?!
In addition to soba they also used some white noodles (the soba would be the brown colored noodles). The yellow is from a pickled veggie, I think. Of course their samples came out perfectly.
My attempt? Not so much! But I still ate it and it was good.
Now that I have more experience and practice with making sushi, I think we will try this more often at home. The hard part is getting the rice just right. There is a lot of good sushi quality raw fish around that can be purchased at the grocery store, so that makes it easy to get the right kind of fish to eat raw.
Overall, this class rocked! I had so much fun and learned a lot. I can't wait for more cooking classes in the future.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever made sushi? If you could make any kind of sushi, with any filling or topping, what would be it and what would you name your creation?