I first wrote up this draft sometime in February but I never really had the time to post this. It's been a hectic year for, what with uni work, two jobs, a placement and a myriad of other things going on with the band. Anyway, I got some time to devote to the blog and I apologise for not posting any sooner but here we are! Now to business...
To be perfectly honest, the thought of making sushi maki rolls was a daunting one when I first considered attempting these little Japanese delights. The curiosity in my piqued at me to such a point, however, that I had to give into my sushi making urges. I certainly eat enough of it, why not try making it at home? Turns out it's actually deceptively simple (that is if you want to make your stock standard teriyaki sushi rolls. I have not experimented yet with anything fancy such as making my own nigiri at home with raw tuna/other types of sashimi merely because I don't know where to source proper, mercury free sushi-grade fish fit for raw consumption so I tend to leave that to the experts at the Japanese restaurants).
Another thing about making your own maki: It uses a few simple ingredients you can buy for under $40 and depending on how many nori sheets you get, you can easily make up to 20 half rolls or 40 half rolls (I prefer the quarter rolls, making eating so much easier). Not bad value for money and it keeps fresh for about a day and a half. I take these to uni for lunch whenever I make them, so they make a great healthy lunch option.
Important: I know a lot of you will be wondering if you can substitute the Kewpie (Japanese mayonnaise) with normal mayonnaise. Yes, you can. But the point is, Kewpie has a distinctive taste because it's made with soy milk and it really bring together the flavour of the roll so I suggest if you can find, it, use it.
If you live in Australia, there is a brand called Obento that you can find at Coles/Woolworths that makes sushi making at home very very easy. The brand packs sushi rice, nori (seaweed) sheets, sushi rice seasoning, Wasabi paste and all the products to fulfill your sushi dreams and make your life a hell of a lot easier. If not, you'll probably have to do a bit of research into the Asian shops in your area that will be selling Japanese ingredients.
You don't have to stick to these common sushi flavours like teriyaki. Personally I love cooked tuna with avocado and spicy tuna with cucumber but as I was making these for Elliott who loves his teriyaki sauce, this is what I went with. If you look online you will come across a myriad of different sushi combinations that involve meat, seafood and vegetables to your liking. Brown rice is also a great alternative.
Sushi Rice: Here is a reliable recipe for making sushi rice. As a general rule of thumb, 1 cup of washed rice absorbs 1 cup of water. If you do not want to follow this recipe and if you are able to find ready made sushi rice seasoning (again, Obento has a sushi rice seasoning found at Cole/Woolies if you are in Australia which makes your life so much easier), you can cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet and then use the store bought seasoning on the cooled rice.
Alternatively you can make your own sushi vinegar by combining the following 3 ingredients and dissolving them together over low heat on the stove, then let the mixture cool:
4 Tbsp Rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
Makes 10-12 half rolls
300g-400g cooked sushi rice, seasoned
250g chicken (thigh/breast or both)
250g beef (gravy beef/chuck)
10 nori sheets
1 medium carrot (cut into batons)
1 cucumber (cut into batons)
375g ready made teriyaki sauce
1 tube Kewpie mayonnaise
1 bottle sushi grade soy sauce
1 bottle teriyaki mariande (375g of teriyaki marinade)
And here we have all the ingredients, sitting pretty.
I seasoned my rice with ready made seasoning because, hey, convenience. If you are not doing that, please follow the instructions on how to make sushi rice in the link provided above.
1. The first step is to get the meat prepped and marinating to ensure maximum flavour. I used silverside, which I first cut into thin strips and then chopped into small cubes. The smaller cut of the meat keeps the beef really moist and bathed in sauce during cooking and won't dry out.
Treat the chicken the same way. Small cubes/shapes.
I used a combination of breast and thigh fillets, which is why the chicken is showing two shades of brown/pink here.
2. Divide the bottle of teriyaki marinade between the two bowls of meat and allow to marinate for a minimum of 45 minutes. You can add more flavours like a bit of chili, oyster sauce etc as you like.
3. Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan. When the pan is hot, add in the beef. Season with some white pepper and keep on the flame until the beef is cooked through and the sauce is almost a glaze on the meat. Repeat this process with the chicken. Transfer the cooked meats to clean bowls and let them cool to room temp.
5. Next up. Battle stations ready. The rice has to be completely cooled, your vegetables cut into batons/manageable shapes.
6. Prepare a bowl of lukewarm water and add a small amount of sushi rice seasoning/rice wine vinegar and a few drops of oil. This is to dunk your hands into, to ensure the rice won't stick to your hands too much. Alternatively, you can rub sesame oil on your hands but this method ensures you have something to ensure that your nori can be sealed shut when you're making the rolls.
7. Place your nori sheet shiny side down on your rolling map. No, rolling mat isn't a necessity but it sure makes the process a hell of a lot easier!
8. Start by dipping your hands to the seasoned water. Then, pick up a handful of rice and layer it onto the seaweed as shown below. Don't pack the the rice in too tightly and go overboard with squishing it. Make sure that you leave about 1-2cm of paper free towards the edge. This allows you to seal the paper to form a roll.
9. Squirt a good old bit of that Kewpie mayo towards the middle of the roll. Arrange your fillings on this mayo line as show below. Again, don't go overboard with filling it up.
10. Now, the fun begins. Start by rolling the seaweed paper away from you almost in a tucking motion so that the edge of the paper that was towards you is almost sort of tucked under the meat. Again, a mat makes this so much easier.
11. Once you're secured the first roll over, keep rolling the paper on its self until you reach the very edge.
12. When you've reached the edge, use a bit of water or the hand dipping water, apply this to the noti paper to make it stick and secure your roll. The fantastic thing about a mat is that it gives you so much control and ensures you have a nice, even shape.
Et voila! You can continue doing this until you run out of ingredients. You can cut them into halves and them quarters and then eights/sixteenths (which is what I did) or you can just do half rolls. Totally up to you what you want to do.... But you've mastered the maki and you should be proud! Don't fret if they look messy and not like the perfect ones from the shops. Sushi chefs train years mastering your craft. You just hand rolled the damn thing by looking at pictures on the internet. It's going to taste delicious either way. If you're still worried, YouTube has a lot of helpful tutorials.
Here are some of the rolls I made with some avocado and carrot in addition to the chicken and cucumber. Avo and carrot work really well with teriyaki beef. The extra drizzle of Kewpie on top is optional but I like to live on the wild (i.e. chubby) side. These would've looked better if I had better lighting and a pro camera, but let me tell you, they go down a treat and are a perfect, light meal. Not bad, considering summer is around the corner! Serve with soy, wasabi and pickled ginger (I forgot I had them in the fridge when I took the picture)
Until next time!