Saturday, November 14, 2009

Daring Cooks November: Sushi

We. Love. Sushi.  And we've eaten (probably literally) tons of it in our two short lives. But, we'd never made it before.  So, we were pretty excited about this month's challenge.

The challenge had four parts:
Part 1: Making proper sushi rice – you will wash, rinse, drain, soak, cook, dress, and cool short grain rice until each grain is sticky enough to hold toppings or bind ingredients. Then you will use the cooked rice to form three types of sushi:
Part 2: Dragon sushi roll – an avocado covered inside-out rice roll with a tasty surprise filling
Part 3: Decorative sushi – a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut
Part 4: Nigiri sushi – hand-shaped rice rolls with toppings

Of course, before we could start the challenge, we needed to gather our supplies. Turns out we needed to pick up quite a few things.
  1. Rice vinegar (for some reason, I thought I didn't have any on hand. Turns out I ended up buying an extra... typical!)
  2. Sushi rice (no, you can't be all creative and use Arborio... I don't care HOW Italian you are)
  3. Seaweed: Kombu (kelp) and toasted nori sheets  (turns out I had some Kombu from the last time I made miso soup... but I really did need the nori)
  4. A sushi rolling mat (you don't absolutely need one, but it makes you feel very cool and official -- and we did find it made the process of rolling much easier)
  5. Sushi meats:  We found unagi (barbequed eel) in the frozen section at our local Asian grocer; we also found sashimi grade tuna and salmon at Grasch Foods in Brookfield
  6. Sushi veg: cucumbers, red carrots, beauty heart radishes, shiitake mushrooms, sweet potato, avocado
  7. Miscellaneous items: black sesame seeds, lumpfish roe, wasabi powder (46% true wasabi), and sushi ginger
A few words of advice.  If you're going to make your own sushi rice in the traditional manner, be sure you allow yourself enough time.  You'll need time to rinse, drain, soak, cook, and cool your rice. 

Despite much eye-rolling, Peef was Exceedingly Gentle with the rice -- rinsing and draining them carefully so as not to split the grains.  And he exhibited a Saint's Patience when it came time to dress the rice with the prepared sushi vinegar mixture and fan the rice until it had cooled.

One look at the rice told us that all the work was well worth the effort -- the grains were perfectly cooked -- sticky-yet-separated -- and they had a gorgeous sheen.  The rice also had great flavor. The flavor of the vinegar was present, but not pronounced...  we were ready to roll!

Off to the fun part!!  First, we tackled the dragon/caterpillar roll.
In retrospect, we maybe should have started with something a bit more straightforward... But, despite some initial challenges with the sticky rice, and a few exclamations while arranging the roll on the plate, I think he turned out to be pretty cute.

The roll itself wasn't much to look at (even with the red lumpfish roe on top), but once we embellished the dragon with the avocado scales and gave him gorgeous fuschia-colored armor, things came together nicely.  A couple of red carrot slivers and a bit of fancy scallion-flame work, and we were pretty pleased with ourselves.

Next, we put together our decorative sushi. We decided to go with the traditional (and relatively straightforward) spiral roll.  We filled our roll with sweet potato, seasoned & cooked shiitake mushrooms, beauty heart radishes, and cucumbers.  So pretty!!

And finally, we put together a few lovely nigiri sushi -- salmon, tuna, and mixed vegetable.

I was particularly pleased with the look of the mixed vegetable sushi, which really featured the gorgeous veining in the radishes, and the lovely color of the red carrots.

After we'd finished the prerequisite rolls for the challenge, we did a couple more rolls just for fun.  First, a shiitake mushroom sweet potato uramaki, or "inside out roll" (we called ours the "autumn roll").

And then, spicy tuna maki. We made our spicy tuna with chopped tuna, mayo, and rooster sauce and embellished the roll with a bit of scallion.

And the best part?
Why -- eating the sushi, of course!

Interested in trying it out for yourself?
Sushi - instructions for sushi rice and rolls

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge. 

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  1. Not be able to eat raw fish was one of (if not the) worst part of about being pregnant for me. Thank goodness those days are long gone.

    There's a fantastic wholesale fish supply place near me (where all the great Minneapolis restaurants get their fish) and years ago I actually used to host sushi parties. I would have lots of different ingredients out, give a quick demo and then everyone would make their own rolls. It was SO much fun. Too expensive to do anymore, so we just eat out.

    Loving that Dragon Roll.

  2. Oh my gosh, I love this post! My son is a sushi chef. Wonder if I can pass off the challenge to him? :-) Hmm, no, I should try this on my own. But, it's snowing out right now so I'm in the mood for hearty beef stew. How about green chile stew sushi?

    All kidding aside, you've inspired me to give it a go on my own. Oddly enough, we're on a similar path with this as I have a half-written sake post awaiting completion. Maybe I'll do that instead. Hey, you need the appropriate beverage to go with your sushi -- right?

    Great post, as always!

  3. Oh my you did a beautiful job!

  4. I am so impressed! You did a fabulous job making everything look professionally prepared. And, it looks delicious!

  5. I've never seen spiral rolls with the vegetables spread out instead of in the center - it's so beautiful made this way.

  6. Wow! Very impressive. I see now why sushi is so expensive. I never knew the rice was such a process. Love the caterpillar guy! Nice job guys!

  7. Your sushi is gorgeous! Great job!

  8. OMG what a superb series of photos of sushi - yes I think the tri-veggie nigiri tied with the nori is so beautiful I could print that out and just look at it. Both of you have done a wonderful job on this challenge and yes your rice is perfection (remember in Japan in takes 2 years training just to make sushi rice in a sushi bar). Rose and I did so much work on that sushi rice recipe to get the best pot-on-the-stove-top recipe, And both of you really have done such tempting and delicious sushi. Bravo Bravo Bravo to you both. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

  9. You did awesome, I've never attempted this dish!!

  10. Your dragon? Holy cow! You guys did an amazing job! It certainly doesn't look like this is your first foray into sushi making.

  11. You are so creative! All of your sushi pieces look beautiful!

  12. Ingrid - That just shows how much sushi we eat :) We definitely know what it looks like! HEH.

  13. Nice! You guys did a great job with the rolls. Making sushi is now officially more fun than going out for it...unless someone else is paying. :)

  14. I make simple California Rolls, all of these are so creative. Who wouldn't love a sushi caterpillar:D

  15. Great job!!! I was very impressed with the look of your sushi. Too much work for me. I'd rather leave it for those who are well versed in sushi making and spend my time just eating it!!! :)

  16. Sushi making is such a art -- these look beautiful.

  17. Oooo, how gorgeous does your sushi look! It all looks fantastic but that dragon roll for me is the number one winner! Love it!! I didn't make the challenge this month due to lack of time and everytime I see a sushi entry I keep wanting to still make it at a later time!

  18.'ve never made sushi before? Really? Could have fooled me as your sushi is BEAUTIFUL! We've made sushi before and it is not nearly as pretty as yours. Geeze, guess I have some practicing to do. I'm jealous.


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