Tuesday, June 1, 2010

International Sushi: Four Ways

Pics (top to bottom):

--The Chinaman is Not the Issue
--I Want to Dreadlock and Roll Every Night (And Sushi Every Day)
--The Muppet
--The Music Critic

So world-famous music blogger Kathleen Tarrant came over last night for a novice chef sushi-off. I'm not sure who won, but I was surprised at how easy, fun, and fast sushi-making is. We covered four very-not-Japanese styles of cuisine with our rolls: Chinese, Jamaican, Brazilian, and American.

My recipes are in regular font, hers are in italics.

Whose cuisine will reign supreme? You be the judge!

Prep time: 2-3 cocktails (for all four rolls)

Sushi Rice (for 4 rolls):

1 ½ cup white sushi rice (don't use any other type!)
1 ¾ cup water
3 TBSP rice vinegar
2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
4 sheets of nori (available at any natural grocer or Asian market)

Start by washing the rice. In a large bowl add cold water to the rice. Stir it around with your hands for several seconds and strain out water. Repeat this process over and over until the water is clear after swishing. It can take a while.

Bring water to a boil. Add rice, cover, and reduce to a low simmer. Cook 20 minutes (a little less if you're at sea level), and remove from heat. Let it rest, still covered, for 15 minutes.

While rice sits, whisk together vinegar, sugar, and salt (to get everything to dissolve, you might want to warm the mixture up in the microwave for 45 or so seconds.

After your rice has sat for the 15 minutes, VERY GENTLY stir in the vinegar mixture--be careful not to mash any of the rice.

You want to start building the rolls while the rice is still hot. On a sushi mat, lay a sheet of Nori, followed by rice, followed by toppings. It's difficult to describe sushi rolling. So I recommend you just hop onto YouTube and pull up some sushi rolling directions. A few minutes of video will have you rolling like a pro!

Two rolling notes:
1)We didn't bother with plastic wrap--as some of the directions recommended--and our rolls turned out fine.
2)Use a SHARP knife when you cut the rolls and rinse off and dry the knife after each slice you make. Failure to do so will result in mangled sushi.

The Chinaman is Not the Issue:
This is my nod to The Big Lebowski as the finest cinematic masterpiece ever made. And the beautiful simplicity of Chinese cuisine. Only a few ingredients here, yet the result is more delicious than a White Russian in Jackie Treehorn's Malibu Estate. If you don't get these cultural references, call me. I'll come to your house tonight and show you a movie that will change your life.

It really brings the room together.

1 very small sweet potato, baked and peeled
½ tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
½ tsp salt
A couple splashes coconut milk (water is an acceptable substitute)
Prepared sushi rice
Several carrot matchsticks, sliced lengthwise
1-2 scallions, sliced lengthwise
Several thin slivers of orange zest
2 TBSP hoisin sauce
2 TBSP soy sauce

Mash the sweet potato, Chinese 5-spice, salt, and coconut milk or water with a fork.

Construct your roll: On nori, spread the rice. Add the mashed sweet potato, carrot, scallion, and orange zest.

Slice into 8 or so rolls.

With a fork, whisk together hoisin and soy sauce for dipping.

And remember, Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.

I Want to Dreadlock and Roll All Night (And Sushi Every Day):
Jamaican sushi? YES! It's the culinary equivalent of a reggae-themed anime film. It sounds so oddly intriguing that you at first want to check it out for sheer novelty value. But next thing you know, you're telling all your friends how cool it is!

This recipe calls for Pickapeppa sauce. If you don't already know and love Pickapeppa, I can tell you that it is the single greatest substance known to man. Seriously. It's a Jamaican barbecue sauce made with cloves, mango, and other delicious tidbits. Pickapeppa is available at any large grocery store or natural food market. It makes everything delicious--from eggs to steak to Jamaican sushi.

Prepared sushi rice
2 ounces steamed crab meat
2 TBSP whipped cream cheese (or more to taste)
Several matchsticks of cucumber, sliced lengthwise
Several matchsticks peeled mango

Pickapeppa sauce for dipping (or a combination ½ Pickapeppa, 3/8 soy sauce, 1/8 wasabi)

On nori, spread the rice. Add crab, cream cheese, cucumber, and mango. Roll up and slice into 8 or so rolls. Dip into the Pickapeppa. Savor. Repeat.

The Music Critic:
Music critics, as people, tend to be a little crabby and sour due to low pay and perceived lack of appreciation of our inherent genius. We also can be more than a little nutty due to many hours in the sun at sprawling music festivals. If there is one group of people that can be embodied by something that looks so homogenous on the outside but is overflowing with what to the untrained eye can look like insanity…it’s music critics. If you don’t like it…well…we liked your old stuff better, anyway.

Prepared sushi rice
2 ounces cooked crab meat
¼ avocado, sliced thinly
1 TBSP almonds chopped coarse
3 sundried tomato halves slivered
½ lemon (about 2 tsp lemon juice)
Soy sauce

Assemble the roll with rice, crab, avocado, almond, and sun dried tomato. Squeeze the lemon juice over everything before you roll it up. Roll and slice into about 8 rolls. Dip into soy sauce,

The Muppet:
Based on one very simple, timeless thought; you put the lime in the coconut. It healed Kermit. It can heal you.

Coconut/Cilantro Dipping Sauce
½ of a 14-oz can of coconut milk
2 TBSP skim milk
2 tsp white flour
2 TBSP chopped cilantro

Heat both milks until they reach a boil on medium/high heat, turn down to low, whisk in flour. Remove from heat, add cilantro. Let cool.

Once you've finished with the dipping sauce, it's time to make the roll.

1/2 of a 14-ounce can of black beans, drained
1 1/2 tsp prepared wasabi
Prepared sushi rice
2 ounces sushi-grade raw salmon, cut into strips
2 strips peeled cucumber (½ inch thick), cut lengthwise
1 scallion, sliced thinly lengthwise
3 tsp lime zest or 4 small slivers of lime rind

Make a black bean mash by mashing the beans and wasabi together with a fork (note that you'll have some left over).

Spread the rice on a nori mat. Top with all the remaining ingredients for the roll. Slice into 8 or so pieces. Dip into the coconut-cilantro dipping sauce.

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