Saturday, May 3, 2014

52WoC Week 15: Knifework - California Roll

I want to start this post with an unsubstantiated claim: the California roll is the most made sushi in all of the United States. While this may or may not be true, the California roll is on pretty much every sushi menu in the US. And while it may not be authentic, it still holds a special place in my heart. The California roll was the first one I ever tasted so it maybe nostalgia, but I still can go down on some California rolls. The creamy avocado, the crunchy fresh cucumber, and the nice fake crab flavor from the imitation crab make for a nice piece of sushi. Not to mention, it's a perfect the beginner roll.

Making sushi truly isn't too difficult if you don't take it too seriously. If you think you're going to be Jiro1 your first time making sushi you'll be sorely disappointed. But step into this as a beginner and you'll be left with tasty sushi. The key to this is being patient and tasting your rice. You want it to be flavorful and stick together without it being mushy and too sweet. And just to reiterate, be patient and your sushi will turn out perfectly.

California Roll

Sushi Rice adapted from Mark Bittman's Recipe
Qty Ingredient Procedure
1.5 cups dry sushi rice
  1. Make the rice per instructions on the container.
1/4 cup rice vinegar
  1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Microwave if need be to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  2. Toss the rice in a large bowl with the rice and vinegar mixture.
1.5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 sheets nori
  1. Lay a place of nori, shiny side down on a piece of saran wrap.
  2. Wet your hands and put a single layer of rice on the nori.
1 avocado
  1. Slice the avocado, cucumber, and imitation crab.
  2. Place the ingredients one third up the nori.
  3. Roll up with the aid of the saran wrap and slice.
1 cucumber
4 sticks imitation crab

The key to pretty much all sushi is the rice. Try to use actual sushi rice as it has the perfect texture and stickiness. If you can't find any, a very short grain rice will work in it's place. Start by making the rice as per the instructions on the container. While the rice is cooking, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. If the sugar or salt doesn't dissolve, microwave the mixture until it is all incorporated thoroughly. This sushi rice seasoning is essential to making your roll taste good - it adds that extra bit of flavor that can be missing from many other rolls. Once the rice is done, toss the rice and vinegar mixture together vigorously. You want to thoroughly incorporate the vinegar and cool down the rice mixture at the same time. Set aside and cover with a wet towel.

While your rice is cooking, cut your imitation crab and cucumber into similar sized sticks. I personally prefer to peel the cucumber first but that is a preference. Make sure to take out the seeds, they can leave your sushi mushy and wet. Slice the avocado into thin strips. Place a sushi mat, if you're using one down on your counter. Place saran wrap on top of that or your counter if you're not using a sushi mat. Place your piece of nori shiny side down on the saran wrap. Get your hands soaking wet and flatten out the rice into a single layer on the nori. It doesn't need to be spotless but try not to make it look like a Pollock painting. Then start placing the ingredients one third up the nori. Roll the base over all the ingredients and using the saran wrap or your hands, roll the nori all the way to the top. Cut the roll in half and then cut in half twice more. Clean your knife each time to ensure you get clean cuts and don't tear the nori.

  1. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is an amazing film, I cannot recommend it enough. Shit, Obama said it was the best sushi he ever had.  

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