I haven’t made sushi in a very long time, now I remember why. While very rewarding and very delicious, it is very labor and time intensive, and not exactly a cheaper alternative. First of all sushi grade tuna is expensive to get…and hard to find. In order to get the best ingredients for the best price I drove with some friends across the Hudson to Edgewater, New Jersey to the mecca of all Japanese supermarkets, Mitsuwa. The trip wasn’t just for my sushi dinner, but to stock up on sauces and spices that can’t be found in the tiny town of Saratoga Springs, where I will be moving next week. Maybe in another post, I’ll talk about all the stuff I bought. So anyways…the sushi. It was discouraging to purchase two tiny pieces of tuna at about $6.00 a piece when the ready made spicy tuna rolls in the same case were $5.00 for six pieces. But, true to my word, I still made it and it came out absolutely perfect. I kept it simple with just tuna, mayonnaise and chili oil but with the help of a little leaf called Shiso or Ooba.
I am usually a little skeptical of my culinary successes. The skepticism, a combination of modesty and also disappointment that the final product is not quite what I had pictured in my head from the start. I was very impressed with myself because the rolls looked so much like any decent spicy tuna roll you might find at a respectable sushi joint. But, I did add a little flare of my own in the form of the Shiso leaf. It’s a interesting little vegetable that has a very peculiar flavor that is very cleansing but also distinct. It’s very hard to describe, so it’s best if you try it out yourself and if your lucky enough to find yourself at a restaurant that has Shiso leaf tempura, then please indulge, it’s incredible. I sprinkled chopped Shiso leaves on top of all my sushi, it just makes it so fresh tasting.
Improvised Sushi Rice
Sushi rice is hard to do without a rice cooker. Well I forgot the seasoned rice vinegar in my friend Michelle’s car, so I had to improvise. I thought…I just need something with a rice base, ah ha ! Sake! But of course there was no Sake, but I did find shoyu, a Japanese rice wine. It smelled terribly alcoholic so I decided to boil off the alcohol in a sauce pan.
For the rice:
1 1/2 cups sushi grade rice
2 cups water
For my ghetto rice vinegar:
1/3 cup shoyu
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt.
Add the rice and water together in a saucepan and bring to a soft boil. Cover and simmer for 18 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl.
For the “vinegar,” in a small pan (the smallest you have) add the Shoyu, sugar and salt and cook on medium heat for about five minutes. The steam coming off the pan should smell very alcoholic, because that’s what you are cooking off. Pour the vinegar over the rice and mix it with your slightly damp hands. Set aside to cool.
Spicy Tuna Roll
makes 3 rolls of 6 pieces each
For the mixture:
1/4 lb. sushi grade tuna (whatever kind you like)
1/8 tsp Chili Oil (I like the brand “La-Yu”
1/8 tsp. Togarishi pepper (standard Japanese dried hot pepper)
2 Tbs. Mayonnaise (the Japanese brand Kewpie is best)
For the roll:
3 sheets nori seaweed
chopped shiso leaves
avocado (sliced into very thin spears)
1. Cut the tuna into very small pieces and mash it further against the side of a bowl with a fork . Add all the other ingredients and mix together. Taste to see if you want to add more spice. I would start by adding a little chili oil and then togarishi and working up the spicy ladder that way until it reaches satisfaction.
2. To learn how to roll sushi, I suggest watching a video on youtube because I didn’t have the time to do step by step photo instructions. Cover your sushi may in plastic wrap and lay a large piece of nori on it. With wet hands pat some sushi rice down forming a recatagle in the center of the piece. Sprinkle a little more togarishi for added color. Turn it over so the rice side is down. Lay down the avocado and spoon 1/3 of your tuna mixture on top. Roll the sushi into a log and sprinkle with shiso leaves. With a very sharp knife, cut 1 inch pieces. Immediately consume the delicious, but less attractive end pieces and serve your sexy sushi to your guests.