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Sushi is easy. Generally Americans worry and fuss over the difficulties of preparing sushi at home. Sushi chefs and cookbook authors help along this aura of mystery. Many folks order "take-out" sushi. No need for that. Japanese enjoy sushi at home as an everyday food. The secret is not to limit the food to just raw fish. Japanese homestyle sushi leans in the direction of vegetables, cooked fish and a variety of leftovers. Raw fish (expensive and harder to obtain and keep) is often not included in a homestyle sushi meal.
Sushi is quick. Sushi ingredients (except for raw fish) keep well in the refrigerator for days on end. The seasoned rice, keeps covered, not refrigerated. When you're ready to eat, just decide from what you have available, arrange it attractively (most important) and you're ready to eat.
Many Sushi Styles. Sushi is presented with considerable variety in Japan--Chiraishi, maki rolls, nigiri (finger rolls), handrolls, and more. Maki rolls can be managed for company (if you like) but it's slow and the technique takes practice. Nigiri and handrolls are for the sushi bar in town. Chiraishi is the easiest and it's the way sushi is enjoyed homestyle in Japan.
Chiraishi, Tossed sushi (Osaka style) is easy as one, two, three.
One. Prepare seasoned sushi rice in individual large rice bowl, level top. Cut strips and slivers of nori (roasted seaweed, packaged in sheets about 8-inches square) for decoration. CLICK HERE for rice recipes.
Two. Decide on and prepare toppings to "toss" or "scatter." Cooked toppings can include boiled shrimp, cooked crab, or any other cooked seafood leftovers, natto (fermented soy beans), sweetened carrot strips, flavored cooked egg (omelette), sliced boiled egg, etc.
Raw vegetable toppings. Avocado and cucumber go best.
Raw fish toppings can include salmon, tuna, ika (squid). CLICK HERE for how to get raw fish for sushi at home.
Three. Prepare dipping sauce. There are many choices. For years we just mixed wasabi in soy sauce at the table. Spicy mayonnaise (karakuchi) is popular. Ponzu sauce, a delicious lemony, vinegary-sweet blend, you can fine tune to your taste, makes homestyle sushi something you cannot get (by definition) elsewhere. CLICK HERE for my Ponzu recipe.. CLICK HERE for Spicy Mayo recipe.
Arranging and serving homestyle chiraishi.
Sunomono style. Arrange "toppings" in a shallow bowl with ponzu sauce for each diner, as in a sushi bar sunomono service. Serve seasoned rice with nori strips decoration in large rice bowl.
Sushi bar style. "Scatter" (=carefully arrange) toppings on seasoned rice with nori strips in large rice bowl. Provide a dish of ponzu sauce (or your choice) for each diner, so food may be dipped in sauce while eating.
Homestyle mixed style. No fuss, no bother. Prepare seasoned rice in large mixing bowl. Add whatever "toppings" you have at hand. Suggestions? Cooked shrimp doused with ponzu sauce is an easy start. Blanched or parboiled julien carrots, doused with vinegar and or shoyu. Thin sliced cucumber. Be creative! Toss gently. Serve in rice bowls.
HOW TO COOK RICE
For food other than sushi.
2 cups California Sushi rice. Can be obtained from any Asian Market. Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese use the same rice. Make sure it's "sushi" rice, a medium grain rice. Very different from Thai or Indian rice.
3-1/2 cups water (More water for old rice, less for "new crop" rice. Safer to start with more water, then adjust for next batch.)
Bring water and rice to boil in 2 quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
Reduce heat, cover and low simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes. Do not stir rice.
Spoon rice into rice bowls as needed. Cover leftover rice. Seal with plastic food wrap the Japanese way. Keeps unrefrigerated one or two days. Reheat in double boiler if you like, but Japanese don't bother to reheat rice. Just use at room temperature.
SUSHI FLAVORED RICE
For sushi, prepare rice as for cooked foods (above).
1)Prepare sweetened vinegar:
1C rice vinegar (Read my About the ingredients.).
1/2C granulated sugar
3T sake (optional)
Mix to thoroughly dissolve sugar. (Sweetened vinegar can be made ahead in a large jar, kept on the shelf, and used as needed. Saves time.)
2)Add small amount of sweetened vinegar to cooked rice in large bowl and toss with large spoon gently to mix. Rice should be thoroughly damp but not wet. Taste. Adjust.
NOTE: Sushi restaurants in the US have hardly any flavoring added. Japanese are more likely to flavor rice heavily particularly when served with vegetables and cooked toppings. Experiment! Flavoring should subtle, more vinegary, less sugar, when served with raw fish.
"Callots" (with mushrooms). For cooked toppings, homestyle japanese jazz up the seasoned rice by adding carrots and mushrooms, and lots more. Invent! Experiment!
Prepare cooking broth.
1C chicken boullion
4T dark soy sauce
4T granulated sugar
Julien (fine cut) 2 carrots and 3 shitake mushrooms (dry reconstituted). Simmer in cooking broth till soft. Drain. Mix carrot and mushroom into sushi rice. Prepare topping as above. (Save and reuse cooking broth for seasoning any vegetable.)
RAW FISH FOR SUSHI.
1) Obtain sushi grade fish from your knowledgeable fish vendor,
2)Get it from your friendly sushi bar or 3) manage your own salmon for sushi.
Here's how. Find out when the next shipment of Atlantic farm-raised salmon will get to your supermarket. Tell the fish department manager you'll be there when it comes in and you want 3-4 lbs. before it's placed in the display case. When you get there ask for several filets to be brought out. Arrange to buy just the "head" half of each filet. That includes all the "belly" portion, the fattest and tastiest ("sake toro," or fatty salmon to your sushi chef). Bring home immediately, cut into 1/2-lb or 1-lb. portions, wrap in "press and seal" or freezer paper (or both if you plan to keep it more than a month) and place in your freezer without delay.
NOTE: Do not eat raw fish unless you have taken the proper health precautions!
Ponzu sauce. (Read my About the ingredients.).
1/4c lemon juice (with pulp if not inconvenient)
2T rice vinegar
5T dark shoyu
1T dried bonito flakes (hana-katsuo)
2-inch square dried giant kelp (konbu)
Mix ingredients and let stand 24 hours. Refrigerate. Keeps indefinitely.
Spicy mayonnaise (Karakuchi) sauce.
Place in small bowl, 2T Kewpie (QP) Japanese mayonnaise (Never American!) Japanese mayo is thick, made with soy oil and rice vinegar. American mayo is runny, sweet, and gooey. No body.
1t sesame oil (Asian-Korean, not a cooking oil)
1t sriracha (Vietnamese) hot sauce
Stir. Adjust flavors. More less mayo or any other ingredient to taste.
Maki rolls (Tokyo style). If you want it like at the sushi bar.
Lay nori on flat work space. Spoon on sushi rice, forming even layer of rice grains (about 3/4C cooked rice per sheet).
Place raw fish or other topping along one edge.
Add strip of wasabi (hot) or karakuchi (flavored mayonnaise).
Optional with karakuchi. Add a line of Tenkasu ("crackle," fried tempura batter sprinkles) for texture.
Roll with both hands forcing topping to remain in place as you roll. Apply pressure to insure the roll is tight. Practice makes perfect. There are bamboo mats that are available to make rolls tight. I found it more reliable to just use finger and palm pressure.
Place roll on cutting board, seam down. Moisten sharp filet knife and cut roll into bite-size 3/4-inch pieces. Orient pieces cut side down. Bring to table on cutting board.
Offer Ponzu sauce for dipping as needed. (But not with rolls having karakuchi sauce.)
The Captain's Table for Frequent Flyers! Next time you visit (and have the time to spare), get invited to the Captain's Table. For an Adirondack recluse who is happiest with just the sun and wind in the trees, Martin can be quite sociable, especially when it comes to food. He'll make you a favorite meal and show you step-by-step how it's done. You help. He does the dishes. Don't be overly polite. (Tell him if you've heard the story before.) CLICK for menu (recipe selection). CLICK for reservations. CLICK for Dean, Mike, Martin Sushi Dinner at Camp Barn."
Homestyle sushi plates at Camp Barn and Brooklyn NY (Murray's Birthday August 31, '09
CLICK on image for full-size photo.