Eric and my first official date was to a sushi restaurant overlooking Coolidge Park in Chattanooga. I might’ve had sushi once or twice before (I think at a Chinese buffet or something), but I’d never had the “real deal.” Now I practically live off the stuff. (Not really…that’s a quote from a movie.) Anyway, Eric also took me to his favourite sushi bar in California, and now we’ve found a place in Michigan that we enjoy, too.
Unfortunately, sushi can be a little expensive for our typical date budget. But fortunately, we are learning how to make it at home! It’s not quite as good as at our favourite restaurants, but it’s still tasty and makes a fun at-home date for weekends.
First we had to visit our local Asian food store to pick up a bamboo mat and seaweed sheets. Then Eric learned the ropes of sushi making by watching a few Youtube videos. Next, we gathered our ingredients. In addition to “sticky rice,” we prepared cucumbers, cream cheese, cooked fish, blanched carrots, and peeled, cooked shrimp.
The ingredient prep takes the most time; assembly is easy. Here’s the basic process:
1. Let the cooked rice cool, then mix with rice vinegar to keep it from clumping.
2. Lay the bamboo mat flat side up on a cutting board. Place a sheet of seaweed, smooth side down, over the mat.
3. Gently spread rice in a single layer over the seaweed, leaving a half-inch wide strip clear on the edge farthest away from you.
4. Lay out the fillings horizontally across the center of the seaweed.
5. Dip your finger in cold water and run it along the clear edge of the seaweed. This will make the seaweed sticky so the sushi will adhere when you roll it up.
6. Starting at the edge closest to you, lift the mat and roll the sushi one turn. (This is the part where a Youtube tutorial is very handy.) Tuck it in and run your hand down the mat to shape the roll beneath it. Then roll the sushi the rest of the way, tuck, and shape. Transfer it from the mat to the cutting board or a plate.
7. If you don’t have a hungry party crowd to feed, let the roll sit in the fridge to firm up for a few minutes while you make more.
8. When you’re ready to serve, make 1 to 1 1/2 inch slices. Using a very sharp knife, gently saw into the seaweed. When you break the surface, cut down sharply the rest of the way. Rinse the knife after each slice.
Serve with plenty of hot green tea to drink and soy sauce for dipping. The last time Eric and I made sushi, we also found a recipe for tempura. We battered shrimp and sweet potato slices, then fried them in peanut oil and ate them hot as an appetizer.