I first tried Japanese cuisine about 10 years ago (with my husband really encouraging me to give it a try as he was already a huge fan by then!) and I liked the teriyaki chicken and salmon and all but when it came to sushi, I had a mental block. However my husband convinced me to try the vegetable California rolls, which do not have any raw fish and contains only avocado and cucumbers. Still I became a convert only after 2 or 3 more attempts – It took time to get used to the seaweed taste (and smell) but now here I am – preaching to anyone who cares to listen about the virtues of Japanese cuisine. Simplicity is the essence of Japanese cuisine. I think Japanese food must be the only food out of all the different cuisines in the world where even at the end of a large meal, one does not feel full or ‘stuffed’. It probably has to do with the small (call it normal) portion sizes and lack of fried ingredients and fatty substances. Eat natural seems to be the Japanese way and I am truly loving it now (although I have yet to eat raw uncooked sushi!)
So here’s how we make sushi rolls at home. You will need a couple tools/items to start with. Don’t worry these are not very expensive and it should be easily available at Asian grocers or even regular supermarkets (in the US). The first thing you need is a sushi mat. This is what helps to roll the rice into a log. Second important tool you need is an extra sharp knife. And then for ingredients you need a couple items like the sushi rice, the seaweed or nori and sushi seasoning(gomasio). We get all of these from an Asian supermarket.
Here is how I go about making sushi rolls using cooked shrimp.
Ingredients: 2 cups raw uncooked sushi rice 4 cups water 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp rice vinegar 8-10 pieces of medium size raw shrimp, de-veined and washed 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper) pinch of turmeric 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp olive oil (or coconut oil) 3 sheets of Nori (seaweed) 3 tsp any kind of sushi seasoning (like Gomasio) 1/2 of a ripe avocado, peeled and cut into long thin slices 1/2 of a medium size cucumber, cut into long thin slices grated carrots for garnish
1. Wash the rice in cold water 3-4 times till the water runs clear. Now add the 4 cups water, salt and the vinegar and place on medium heat. When the water starts boiling, turn heat to low and cover with a lid. Let cook for about 10-12 minutes until rice is well-cooked and water is all drained. Turn the heat off and keep the rice covered for 5 minutes so as to let the rice to continue to cook in the steam. Then take lid off and let the rice cool.
2. In a small bowl, add the shrimp pieces, the red chili powder, turmeric ,salt and oil. Mix well to coat the shrimp with the marinade. Now lightly sauté the shrimp in a small frying pan using a little bit of oil for about 2-3 minutes until the shrimp is cooked. Transfer to a plate.
3. Take the sushi mat and place it on the kitchen counter or a table. Place the Nori sheet on top of it.
4. Now add about 1 cup of the cooked rice onto the sheet. Take a small bowl with cold water and place it near you. Now dip your hands in the water and using your hands press the rice on the sheet so as to form an uniform layer of rice that covers all of the seaweed well.
5. Next, on the bottom half towards you, place some of the avocado pieces, the cucumber pieces and the cooked shrimp pieces. Sprinkle the seasoning over this and then starting from the bottom, roll the sushi mat slowly and slowly push the Nori sheet forward so that you are forming a roll (like rolling a carpet). Continue till you reach the end.
6. Using a sharp knife, cut about 1/2 inch thick sushi pieces from the rolled up log.
Enjoy with soy sauce on the side.