Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Making Maki Sushi

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Maki sushi is simply rolled sushi, whereas temaki sushi is hand-rolled (cone-shaped) sushi, nigiri sushi is hand-shaped sushi (with the filling as topping) and onigiri is moulded sushi.

I am wary of the raw salmon and tuna that we get here. Not many people know that just because salmon is fresh doesn't mean that you can eat it raw. In Japan, raw fish for sashimi not only has to be extremely fresh but also parasite-free. Because of the lack of control over the grade of sashimi here, I often use cooked meat such as prawns, surimi (imitation crab sticks) or teriyakied chicken for making sushi. I think my California makis are pretty tasty but they tend to be either loosely rolled or the filling would be off-centered. To get me on the right track, my friend Tina had a few of us over for a sushi-making class. I'll share with you what I've learnt:

The Rice

5 cups short-grain rice*
4 & 3/4 cups water**
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2-3 T castor sugar (up to you)
1 1/2 t fine salt

*Tina uses local 'pearl' rice--not cheaper but fresher and just as good.
** I prefer the texture of the rice cooked with 4 & 3/4 cups of water if using liquid vinegar. If you use sushi seasoning powder, then use equal amounts of rice to water.

1. Wash rice well. Put rice and water in electric rice cooker and cook as usual. When done, let rice stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl until sugar is dissolved.

2. Remove cooked rice to a wooden sushi tub or a shallow glass bowl, but not a plastic or metallic container because of the vinegar. Fluff the rice with a wooden spoon or paddle.

3. Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the rice, and using a rice paddle, cut and fold the rice to mix well. Fan or use an electric fan to help cooling. Fanning is supposed to make the rice shiny and fluffy.

4. Make sure the rice is well mixed with the vinegar mixture. Leave rice to cool, cover with a dry cloth.

Filling

--lightly blanched carrots, cut into small strips 1/2 cm thick
--avocado, cut into 1/2 cm thick strips
--dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and boiled with some light soy sauce, dashi and sugar & cut into thin strips
--cucumber, cut into 1/2 cm strips
--teriyaki chicken breasts, cut into 1 cm strips
--prawns, de-veined, skewered (so they remain straight), boiled & shelled & halved
--eggs omelette strips (add sugar and salt & fry)
--other ingredients such as ebiko, salmon roe, meat floss, kampyo, blanched spinach, surimi, raw fish, pea sprouts etc etc.

Rolling the Sushi

1. Put a piece of nori (toasted seaweed sheets; you must use good Japanese nori, not Taiwanese), shiny-side on the sushi mat (ie rough side facing up). Put a scoop of rice onto the nori. You can use your hands (have a bowl of water nearby to dip in so rice won't stick to hands) or a spoon to spread the rice all over the nori.

Note: Make sure the rice fills the sides of the nori or your rolls will have loose, empty sides. Leave the upper edge of the nori ie the edge furthest away from you clear of rice by 1 cm so it can act as a seam or seal. Do not press the rice down too hard or it'll be squashed. Do not make the rice layer too thick or you'll get big mouthfuls of rice in each piece of sushi.

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2. If using mayo (use Japanese mayo in the squeezable bottle for best taste), squeeze a thick line of it horizontally across the rice first and then top with the filling so that you won't have messy mayo fingers when you roll.

3. Put strips of your favorite combination of fillings along across the rice. For California rolls, use mayo, avocado, surimi, cuke and ebiko. Tina says you must have the basic three colors: red/yellow (carrot/egg), green (cuke) and black (mushrooms) .

4. Tina's way of rolling up the sushi ensures that the rice roll will be compact, with no filling dropping out after it's cut. The secret is lifting the nori edge closest to you and folding it over to meet the rice on the other side of the filling, then tuck in snugly with your fingers without using the mat. After that, use the mat to help roll the whole thing up. My method was to use the mat all through and that way I couldn't tuck in the rice firmly. Also I usually make makis with the filling in the centre and rice all around, without any nori inside and it's hard to get the filling to stay in the center this way. Tina's maki has a spiral of nori in it (1st pic); it's prettier.

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Tuck the inner edge onto the rice as you roll, then...

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...complete the rolling using the mat. Hold and gently squeeze the roll to make it even.

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5. After all the sushi rolls are done, you can cut the sushi. Your knife must be super sharp. Tina has a wet cloth nearby to wipe off the rice that sticks to the knife after each slicing. I prefer to have a bowl of water to dip the tip of the knife into, then tap the handle, knife upright, so that the water runs down and wet the knife making it easier to cut. Saw that trick on TV. However, as Tina cautioned, that would make the sushi wet so be light-handed.

6. Unless you are like Tina who is very accurate and careful plus skillful with her knife, cut the sushi my way: cut the roll into half equally, then cut each half equally then again. This allows you to adjust the thickness and cut even slices.

7. Wasabi is smeared onto the roll only if there's raw fish. Otherwise, serve sushi with Kikkoman soy sauce and wasabi as a dip.

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Thanks Tina, we enjoyed the lesson, the lunch and the company!

11 comments:

Precious Pea said...

I used to make maki sushi back during my uni days. Always too greedywith stuffing too much ingredients, ended up like a burst maki.

Anonymous said...

This looks great! Thank you for the post! Is there any way i can ge the okra recipe from yesterday?

TeaLady said...

Terri - I have always wanted to make sushi. Thot it was too hard, but you make it look easy. Now, maybe I can have it at home. Thanks for the 'lesson' and pics.

Denise ^ ChiCkyEGG said...

the English lady to the left, very familiar !! does she has a daughter like her ?

Katie said...

That was a really interesting post and I must say those colours in the sushi are fabulous!

I often wander down the aisles at the supermarket that have all the sushi-making things, including the mats and the seaweed, and wish I was cultured enough to make some, but I'm just not a big fan of sushi!

Is there a reason why wasabi is only spread on the sushi with raw fish? Just wondering. :)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

haha back to recipes..yes the quality of fresh fish leaves much room for improvement..

but supermarkets like isetan does carry decent quality..definitely edible to be eaten raw..

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

pea: same thing with me, n when i first started making pizzaz. it's the chinese trait called 'greed'.

anon: i will ask Tina, but i remember she used a bean paste she brought frm Japan.

tealady: it is not hard, just some practice needed. also, remember tt the filling goes a long way so don't prepare too much.

denise: she's spanish, has three beautiful girls!

katie:does bf like sushi--make some for him? i don't really know why wasabi is for raw seafood only, but i think it's a rule tt can be bent..

joe: fresh seafood in supermarket? wow, we need tt kind of supermarkets here :(

Girl Japan said...

Just Delish!! Sour crab, yummy Terri!

jC said...

Aunty ELaine and aunty Maria! haha, by the way aunty terri, i think i saw a few wrinkles on your thumb.hehe.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

jc: those fat fingers aren't mine hahahaha...n look who's fat now:D

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

jc: n u sound like wey, always telling me about my hands n wrinkles. so mean making me so depressed.

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