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Monday, January 12, 2015

Cheap homemade sushi rolls

We don't serve sushi in our restaurant, but our owner makes it at home all the time.

You can easily drop $20 to $30 each going out for sushi. Why? We love sushi. But how much would you save making it at home? Well, the rice and other ingredients are so cheap they don't even count. But how much was the fish? Here's the breakdown:
  • $12.03 sushi-grade tuna (.71 lbs @ $16.95 USD a pound)
  • $4.13 sushi-grade salmon (.52 lbs @ $7.95 USD a pound)
 So... how far did $16 worth of fish get us? See for yourself.

The first night, we made all these rolls and the 5 of us ate until it hurt to breathe:
There was still enough fish leftover for tonight so we made more rolls:
Two of us polished this whole thing off!
Why oh why aren't you making your own sushi rolls? If you're anything like me, you just didn't realize how easy it is to do.

The most awesome thing about sushi is that you can put anything you want in it. (And before you get all traditionalist on me, I'll let you in on a secret you probably don't know: Authentic sushi-rolls don't have any fish in them. They're just a vehicle for serving vegetables.)

I've learned that the best way to have sushi is to pick up a bunch of things you think people might like in their sushi, buy a few kinds of fish and then invite your friends over to have a sushi-party where everyone can make rolls. People can mix and match different ingredients and it's a lot of fun!

The most important thing to start with is a good sushi rice recipe. That's the foundation of all sushi! The possibilities are limited only by your own creativity. (Or... *cough cough* you can just cheat by checking out the sushi-roll menu at your favorite restaurant.)

Here's a list of things you'll need:
  • A bamboo mat - for rolling the sushi. You can find these at any Asian supermarket and sometimes at random places like Ikea, Target or (You only need the mat and the paddle for smearing the rice onto the seaweed. Note that if you're having a sushi "party", you'll need one matt and paddle per person. So for like $1.99 each with Amazon prime, they'll magically show up on your doorstep tomorrow. Like magic!)
  • sushi rice - it takes just under 3/4 cup of cooked sushi-rice per roll. This recipe makes enough for about 6 rolls.
  • sea weed paper - this can be found in your regular grocery store. If you don't find it in the international section, you can always ask the seafood department for some as they use it to make the sushi that they sell.
  • rice vinegar - you want the unseasoned variety. You'll need a half a cup for each sushi rice recipe plus a few tablespoons to put in the rinsing water so the rice doesn't stick to the paddle spoon or your fingers.
  • sushi-grade fish - It takes just under an ounce of fish per roll. So a half a pound is 8 oz and would make 8 rolls. Make sure to get "sushi-grade". The regular grade of fish for cooking has more connective tissue and the texture isn't high enough quality for eating raw. This is easily located at any store that specializes in seafood, but you can also get it from the seafood department at your grocery store if you order a few days ahead. (If you aren't sure what kind of fish to get, tuna and salmon are always a safe bet!) The fish should stay in the refrigerator until the very last minute and should be the last thing you cut right before beginning to make your rolls.
  • soy sauce for dipping
  • sesame seeds - there are light and dark ones and there are also some that are roasted. I like them all.
  • wasabi - This is Japanese horseradish and is usually found in the international aisle of the supermarket in a jar as a powder. To make, stir in water just a little at a time until it forms a thick paste. 
  • Pickled ginger (optional) - also usually found in the international aisle of the grocery store. It comes in white or pink and I like both varieties. It's used as a palette cleanser between different types of fish.
  • Sriracha - Let's face it, who doesn't love sriracha? (You'll need this to make spicy-mayo or a volcano roll)
  • Kewpie (or mayonnaise) - Kewpie is "Japanese mayonnaise". This is used to make "spicy-mayo" which can be used as a topping or to make a "volcano roll"... HOLLA!!!!!
  • Spicy Mayo - You can make this in two seconds by mixing 1/2 cup of Kewpie (or mayo), 1 tbsp Sriracha and 1 tsp white sugar. I like to put it in a squeeze bottle so it's easy to squeeze on top of a roll as pictured below. Or, you can mix some with crab meat and put it on top of a roll to turn it into a "volcano roll". 
  • Ponzu sauce (optional) - this tastes similar to soy sauce but isn't as a salty and usually has a slight citrus flavor. I prefer it for dipping instead of soy sauce.
  • Fillings - When possible, a filling should be sliced in long very thin slices as you're laying them down the center of a roll. Here are some of my favorite fillings. Try these or experiment with your own (note, I only use a few of these fillings per roll):
    Notice how the fillings were sliced in long thin slices
    - green onions (slice very thin long ways)
    - peeled cucumbers
    - red bell pepper
    - cream cheese (keep in fridge until very last minute so it's easy to slice)
    - mango
    - kiwi fruit
    - jalapeƱo
    - cilantro
    - watermelon
  1. Put about 3 cups of cold water in a bowl and add a few tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set this bowl within easy reach of where you'll be rolling your sushi.
    Notice the bowl of water is right next to where
    I'll actually be making the roll. Clock-wise from top left:
    wasabi & pickled ginger (to go on the serving platter,
    not inside the rolls),
    spicy-mayo, sesame seeds, Sriracha,
    water-melon, cooked sushi-rice, seaweed paper,
    watermelon, other fillings

  2. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and cut it into thin strips. If you're going to be taking your time making rolls over a long period of time, put the strips in a bowl that is sitting inside another bowl of ice water.
  3. Lay a piece of seaweed on the bamboo mat. Dip your paddle into the vinegar salt-water to keep the rice from sticking to it, then scoop out about a cup of rice and spread it in a thin layer on top of the seaweed all the way out to 3 of the 4 edges. (Leave about a centimeter with no rice on the furthest side. (Don't worry about getting the layer of rice too thick or thin. If you've used this sushi rice recipe, it'll be just perfect.) Sometimes seaweed is perforated so you can tear it into strips for other uses. If the kind you got is perforated, lay it with the performations running away from you, not across, then you can use the performations as a guide for cutting them later.
  4. Lay your fish and fillings long ways across the side closest to you.
    Mango, tuna and green onion
  5. Use the mat to help you roll up your fatty! After rolling it, you may want to use the mat to kind of "squeeze" the roll together gently so that it stays together. But, with the proper sushi rice recipe, it's really never a problem.
    Roll that fatty!
  6. You can slice them as you make them, but we've found it's easier to wait until the end then slice them all at once. Dip the knife into the vinegar salt-water after each cut to keep it from sticking to the rice and tearing the rolls.
    Can you feel the love in this roll?
  7. Lay them on the serving place in different directions and patterns. We got fancy and squirted some spicy mayo on some, a thin line of Sriracha on others, then also used an ice cream scoop and melon baller to make little rice mounds with tuna, water melon and cilantro. The two hand-held ones in the center are onigiri, which is just a little triangle-shaped rice patty with some fillings wrapped in seawood (basically sushi-to-go!)
    Well MY MY, aren't we just fancy-pants??
    I totally ganked this idea from a terrific restaurant in Austin.
    Watermelon, cilantro, tuna and Ponzu sauce taste like Heaven!

And here are our pictures from the sushi party the night before. It was a blast!
Someone is snacking on the product! :)
Hunter fluffing the rice
Irene made short work of removing the salmon
Jeremy's on a roll!
Royal tester or royal jester?

A good time being had by all

Sushi makes me smile! (Or it could be the
recent concussion incurred while scuba diving.
Just ignore those surgical strips on my head!)
Patty slicing our rolls. So excited to see the finished ones!
The three of us couldn't wait to start!
Ok, now we're all here. Chow down!
So, readers... this leads me to ask the most important question of all. What's your favorite thing to have in a sushi roll?

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