Yes, it’s taken me 13 days of my ‘all things Japanese’ series to mention sushi. Mind you it took me over 12 years to get round to actually trying to make some so that’s not so bad in the scheme of things. The story goes as follows.. years ago when I moved to New Zealand and was feeling a bit lonely I was going to sign up to sushi making classes in an attempt to make friends (not sure why I had decided the ability to roll fish in seaweed was a good qualification in a buddy but…..). I got all the kit and was just about to sign up. Then I was in a local pub and group of people in shorts came in – they were a running club called The Rat Race. They ran, they drank beer afterwards – they sounded waaaaaay more fun than the seaweed people. A few weeks later I plucked up the courage to turn up at the pub in my own pair of shorts – and the rest is history. Sushi making went out the window and I started running half marathons instead.
When I moved to Sydney, I lived above a sushi bar so I didn’t need to worry about it there, and until recently we had a nice sushi place in the town I now live in in England so if I got a craving I could go there. And then one day, I walked past. The sushi train had stopped moving. No-one was scurrying around waving yaki soba. A lonely pot of wasabi sat on the floor waiting for its little soy sauce friend. The sushi place was gone (are you sad yet?). The day had come when I had to make sushi of my own.
Once the thought was in my head, I was off – up to the Japan Centre in London (despite the fact that you can buy most of the necessary items in the ‘posh foreign food’ bit in Sainsburys) and I stocked up with a sushi mat, a sushi spoon, nori sheets, sushi rice and some wasabi. I was good to go…..
Three hours later one Sunday, I produced the plate of delights above. I’m not going to bore you with a step by step of sushi making, there’s lots of those online, but what I will tell you is the most important things I learned during the process…
1) It is not a quick job – there’s soaking, there’s boiling, there’s cooling, and that’s just what you have to do with the rice before you get to actually making pretty rolls of things.
2) Ignore all the sites that tell you to put clingfilm on your sushi mat. That just ends up with cling film being rolled into your sushi. Gripping the mat works just as well.
3) Take the rice right to the edges of the seaweed, otherwise you will end up eating mouthfuls of dry seaweed and dry seaweed alone. This is not yummy.
4) Unless you have somewhere you can buy sushi grade cuts of fish – and bring them home chilled, don’t do the raw fish thing. Go for less spoily fillings like tuna mayo with cucumber, crab sticks with avocado, little bits of teriyaki chicken, prawns with pepper etc.
5) THE best tip was to squish a few single grains of rice on the last section of seaweed you’re going to roll. This acts as a glue to hold the whole thing together.
6) When it comes to cutting the rolls, the knife needs to be sharp – and clean. Wipe it between each cut or it sticks. The Boyfriend (who had a go at slicing) favoured a wet knife. personally I favour my fingers so I went with dry.
So there you have it Helen’s guide to making sushi – and making friends in Auckland. The Rat Race is still running (pun intended), if you’re on the North Shore, click on the link above and go see them. They’ll be glad to have you and you’ll be glad you did.
Main image: freedigitalphotos.net
Rat Race image: from The Rat Race, Takapuna