Last Friday was a P.A. day and one of our special activities for the day was to make “build your own” sushi. Just after we finished our sushi party lunch, I had a friend send me a message on Facebook saying, “Hey, I remember before you mentioned making sushi with your kids. How the heck do you do that? I want to try it. What should I buy?” The ensuing conversation left me thinking that I should write up a post about how just easy it is to make sushi at home.
I know years ago I would never have dreamed of making sushi at home. It seemed like an elaborately prepared food that I could only get in restaurants. I was also very nervous about the idea of messing around with raw fish. I had a friend who helped me make sushi to serve at my wedding shower. Even then I was a little intimidated by it. There is definitely an art to rolling sushi and creating something that is not merely edible, but also visually pleasing.
It’s an art that I sure as heck haven’t mastered. However, I am raising two little girls who LOVE to eat sushi. Their enthusiasm encouraged me to give making sushi at home another go. And that’s when I stumbled onto the best trick ever for making homemade sushi: seaweed snacks. One day I was at Costco and I ran into these wee packages of Korean seaweed, which I picked up on a whim. Each pack contains a stack of small toasted pieces of seaweed, about the size of playing cards. No rolling, no cutting; you just spoon on a bit of sushi rice and add some toppings, creating a bite sized sushi.
Another option is to make sushi bowls. Tear up bite sizes pieces of seaweed, from snack sized seaweed or the standard sheet-type stuff, and add it to a bowl of sushi rice. Then top with whatever suits your fancy.
This time around we had sesame seeds, canned tuna mixed with mayo, sliced avocado, imitation crab, fish eggs (aka roe or caviar), cold smoked salmon and cold smoked sea bass for toppings.
I went a little over the top and we had lots of toppings to choose from for our fancy pants PA day sushi party. Frankly my kids would probably be happy if handed unlimited amounts of avocado and crabstick. Also, I’d like to note that canned tuna with mayo was Gracie’s idea, not mine. However, it was actually pretty tasty.
And this is the point of what I’m saying, making sushi at home doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or intimidating. You also don’t have to worry about messing around with raw fish. It’s not required. Cold smoked or even cooked fish does the trick nicely. Homemade sushi can be as simple as canned tuna or imitation crab sticks. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can julienne some carrot strips. The key is to not worry so much about presentation, just get all the ingredients in one place, and into your mouth. Bang. Done. Sushi.
The next important point I want to make is that you don’t have to go to some weird exotic shop to pick this stuff up. The big chain grocery stores all carry the ingredients you need (normally found in the same area as where they sell the premade sushi trays). The key can-not-skip absolutely-need-this-to-make-sushi items are: sushi rice, rice wine vinegar and seaweed.
You need sushi rice specifically, a short grain “sticky” rice. Uncle Ben’s Instant is not going to cut it. To make the rice just follow the directions on the package. Prior to cooking it be sure to rinse the rice multiple times, thoroughly. As much as you may be tempted, do not skip this step. It’s crucial to your rice coming out the right consistency.
You also need to make su. This is the rice wine vinegar mix you add to the cooked rice. I use 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup boiling water. This is the right amount for about 4 cups of cooked rice. Google “su” and you can find dozens of recipes, many calling for saki. Most su recipes involve heating the mixture on the stovetop. I cheat and skip this step by adding boiling water, which gets everything hot enough for the sugar to dissolve easily.
So, to recap, the basic steps are: 1)rinse rice thoroughly 2)cook rice following package directions 3)drain rice and put it in a big bowl 4)make your su mixture 5)add the su to the rice a bit at a time, stirring thoroughly 6)cover the bowl with a clean dish cloth to keep the rice warm 7)lay out all the toppings on the table 8)give the kids a plate and a little stack of those seaweed snacks and let them make their own bite size sushi bits
And you just made sushi at home with your kids. Yummy! See that wasn’t so hard now, was it? Let me know if you give it a try.