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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Valentine's Day Sushi

I know we're almost to St. Patrick's day, but with the way this year has been going, we might as well still be in February! So, I will post about Valentine's Day today, and maybe around Easter, I'll post about St. Patrick's Day, and so on...

Valentine's Day has never meant going out for a special meal for my husband and me, but we do celebrate by staying in. Our second date was on Valentine's Day, and it also happened to be the first time my husband cooked for me. We discovered that night that we both have a passion for cooking...and the rest is history!

After that first year, we decided that we'd make it a tradition to choose something out of the ordinary to cook for Valentine's dinner. A couple of years ago, we decided to make sushi, which was successful (and out of the ordinary for a couple living in a small southern town). This year, we decided to include our daughter in the Valentine's festivities and returned to the idea of sushi since it would be easy to prepare for and let her be involved.

As you can tell, she took her duties seriously:

She made one sushi roll and was done, but enjoyed the process. I would highly recommend this as an easy way to cook with your kids--you can easily prepare all of the "fixings" beforehand and then let your kids stuff away!

The most important part of sushi (in my mind) is the rice. It's not hard to make, but I've found that this method below works great and makes perfect sticky sushi rice. I found the information online years ago, but can't figure out where it came from, though.
Sushi Rice (Makes 6 large rolls)
500 ml (2 1/8 cups) Sushi Rice (We use Tamaki Gold.)
600 ml (2 1/2 cups) water
60 ml (4 Tbl) rice vinegar (We use Marukan.)
30 ml (2 Tbl) sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) salt

Tezu (Vinegar-Water Solution)
250 ml (1 cup and a smidgen) water
30 ml (2 Tbl) rice vinegar
5 ml (1 tsp) salt

Wash the rice under water until water is fairly clear while draining. Let the washed rice strain for 30 minutes.

While the rice is draining, prepare your Tezu. Mix all Tezu ingredients together and set aside.

Once the rice has drained, transfer it to a pot or a Japanese electric rice cooker and add the water. (We used the stovetop method.) Heat the water to boiling, cover tightly and simmer on very low heat for 18 minutes. Do not uncover! Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the sushi vinegar. Mix 60 ml vinegar, 30 ml sugar, and 5 ml salt in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

When the rice is finished, cut and fold the rice gently with a wooden spoon. Do not smash the cooked grains.

Moisten a large bowl (I used a wide, flat bowl to help the rice cool evenly) with the Tezu mixture. Place the hot rice into the mixing bowl and add 1/4 of the cooled sushi vinegar solution. Mix gently with a folding motion. Repeat until all of the sushi vinegar solution is gone.

After mixing, fan the hot rice mixture for 5 or 6 minutes to remove excess moisture and to create a glossy finish to the rice. (You can use an electric fan here.) The rice should be slightly chewy and sticky to the touch.

After making the rice, it's all downhill. Slice up some veggies--we like carrots, cucumber and avocado. Pick up some fish--it's up to you about how adventurous you are. I don't like fish, so I stick to veggie rolls, but my husband and daughter added some smoked salmon to theirs. Place the nori (the sushi wrapper) on the sushi roller, spread rice over most of the surface, leaving a little space at one end so that you can attach the nori to itself once wrapped. (If the rice is too sticky, use water on your hands and fingers to help spread the rice.) Add your fillings and roll! Make sure to roll as tightly as possible to keep all of those yummy fillings in. Once it's rolled, moisten the nori with some water and attach.

If you haven't rolled it tightly enough, you can always wrap each roll individually with some plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours. This should help keep the fillings in. Otherwise, place your rolls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Once they are cold, slice into rounds with a sharp knife. Et voila! Serve with wasabi and soy sauce and enjoy!

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