There's Nothing Fishy About This Sushi
Continuing our journey through National Vegetarian Week, we've made time in our weekend for sushi. This is no midweek 15 minute meal, but don't be put off. After a little effort you'll be rewarded with a wonderful selection of fresh and vibrant morsels that'll win over even the keenest carnivore.
Sushi originated in Japan and is simply vinegared rice with various ingredients served on or in it. Most commonly raw fish or vegetables, but depending on where it is being served, almost anything goes!
There are many different sushi varieties, named according to their shape and whether or not they use nori (seaweed). Today we decided to make a mixture of traditional and 'western-style' sushi;
Nigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi): an oblong bar of rice that is normally topped with a single ingredient.
Hosomaki (thin rolls) a type of Makizushi (nori-roll): a small roll where the filling is wrapped in rice and an outside layer of nori.
Futomaki (thick rolls) another type of Makiszushi: a roll about 2-2.5cm across, also with a filling wrapped in rice and an outer layer of nori.
Uramaki (western-style outside rolls): here the filling is wrapped in nori before an outer layer of rice, often finished with sesame seeds or fish roe.
Start by cooking your sushi rice, a medium grain glutinous rice. It will absorb about double its weight in water in 10-15 minutes. Once cooked transfer to a wide dish and sprinkle with sushi vinegar. Gently fold to coat well and fan the rice to help it cool. Take care not to over work it otherwise you'll have a bowl of very pasty rice! Set aside and cover with a tea towel.
Next prepare your ingredients. The finished rolls will be a cross section, so long thin strips work well, much like making letters in seaside 'rock'. Remember that a little goes a long way, so you wont need more than a couple of each ingredient to make a feast.
The best thing to do before making your sushi is watch a few videos online. Nothing can substitute watching these being made by someone that knows what they're doing. To make a simple makizushi style roll, lay a sheet of nori shiny side down on your rolling mat. The perforations should run top-to-bottom not side-to-side. Press a layer of rice over your sheet to about half a centimeters depth, leaving a good couple of centimeters free along the top edge. A bowl of water to clean your fingers is essential.
Arrange your ingredients across the centre of your rice then carefully fold over the edge nearest you to enclose the filling. Use the mat to press the start of the roll together before continuing to roll the mat away from you. Shape into a neat round before removing your roll from the mat. To slice, make sure you use a sharp knife and clean it well between cuts.
Serve with the traditional trinity of sushi accompaniments: soy sauce, wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and finally pickled ginger, all washed down with a cool glass of Japanese beer, or for those of you who are a little more adventurous, why not try some Saki.