Saturday, January 16, 2010


Can food be a project?  Absolutely!  For years I've wanted to try making my own sushi.  I bought the book "Sushi for Dummies" a few years ago, read it, then did nothing with it.  At some point I did buy some of the ingredients I needed, but again, never did anything with them.  A couple of years ago for Christmas, I was even given a sushi "kit" that included a rolling mat and wooden paddle, but, as you may have guessed, I didn't do anything with it.

So what brought on another round of sushi desire?  My wife rented "Julie and Julia" last night.  On top of being a good movie, it got me to thinking about food, and, in particular, cooking at home, which quickly led me back to the idea of making my own sushi.

So today I dug out my two sushi books, jotted down a quick list of ingredients, and headed to the grocery store with my wife.  $100 later, and well past our monthly grocery budget, we returned home.  We did pick up our usual list of goodies, but I have to admit that most of the money went toward sushi fixin's.

My biggest fear was making the rice.  Rice is what makes sushi.  If you don't get it right, you end up with nothing but a mess.  As it turns out, following the directions in the "Dummies" book made it almost impossible to mess up.  My rice came out perfectly, even though I didn't have one of the ingredients.

I should probably have mentioned ingredients.  Finding everything you need for Japanese cuisine in rural Vermont is next to impossible.  We did pretty well, though.  With substitutions, we gathered everything but two ingredients, I think.

While the rice was soaking, then cooking, I chopped, sliced, stirred, and sampled everything else that I would need.  I chose four recipes: a spicy tuna roll, the California roll, another tuna roll, and a veggie roll.  My main ingredients to prepare where cucumber, avocado, scallions, tuna, and a couple of mixtures that included mayonnaise and fish roe.

Once the rice was done, and cooled properly, the fun part started.  Rolling sushi is not only easy, it's a pretty cool process.  Basically, add some sticky rice to a piece of nori seaweed, add your ingredients, and roll it all up in a bamboo mat.  Once it's rolled tightly, you can slice it into the servings you typically see, pop it on a plate, and feed it to the family.  It really was fun.

As you can see from the plate above, my first attempt wasn't perfect, but it tasted awesome, and my daughter has already asked me to make more so that she can take it to school for lunch.  I call that a successful project.

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