Makin' Maki, Or On A Roll With Sushi! - The Well Travelled Spatula Blog at - 183442

The Well Travelled Spatula

Makin' Maki, or On a Roll with Sushi! 
Jul. 1, 2010 12:31 am 
Updated: Jul. 2, 2010 11:11 pm
Now, just hang on a second! Sushi is NOT just raw fish! How do you know you don't like it? Have you ever actually tried it? Do you have an open mind? Yes, there are pictures of raw fish in this post, but there are also lovely photos of non-fish and cooked seafood sushi! So, pour yourself a cup of green tea, or sake, and join me, as we explore this culturally different and amazingly healthy food style!
Sushi does require a few specialized 'tools' but they are cheap! You can generally buy a 'sushi kit' at well-stocked grocery stores that will include a rice paddle, a bamboo rolling mat, chopsticks and, often a starter package of sushi rice and seaweed nori.

Sushi Rice is a short grain rice that is washed and then
steamed with Kombo (a type of kelp),

Sushi begins with rice, unlike sashimi, which is the Japanese style of presenting sliced raw fish on its own, or only with garnishes. The origins of sushi date back almost 1200 years, but sushi has only evolved to include rice since about 1700 AD.

Once the rice is steamed, it is 'paddled' with special sushi vinegar, a sweet vinegar, which adds flavor to the rice, but also gives it a glossy texture.

The other ingredients we need include:
  • nori -the thin sheets of seaweed used to contain the rice and other ingredients
  • wasabi - A hot paste of Japanese horseradish
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocados
  • Soy sauce
  • Miso - a fermented mix of soybeans, salt and vinegar (not pictured)
  • Pickled ginger - a garnish and palate cleanser for the plate
The last two, the pickled ginger and soy, are generally served on the plate or as a side for dipping. Depending on how hot you like things, you can mix the wasabi and soy together to create your own personal dipping sauce!

As well as some fresh salmon (above), and tuna (not pictured here)

and some cooked and butter-flied shrimps. Other seafoods commonly included in sushi are cod, snapper, eel, salmon roe, the list is endless... Need a party idea? What about a sushi party? Cook up a bunch of rice, assemble a variety of ingredients and let your guests assemble their own sushi!
If you are going to make your own sushi, go to your local fish monger or the fish counter at your grocery and tell them what you are doing (They won't laugh!) They will be able to recommend the freshest and best cuts of fish available.
Now, most nori that you purchase is already toasted, but I like to toast mine a bit further. I find this helps the texture; otherwise it can be tough and hard to bite through.

It's easy and quick -- just quickly run the sheet of nori over a hot burner a few times; you will see and feel the texture change.

Ready to Roll!

Our first roll will be a Maki-zushi, literally 'rolled sushi'. I have laid out the bamboo rolling mat, set down a sheet of nori and spread a thin layer of the seasoned rice over the nori covering all but the top inch or so. The rice can be quite sticky unless your hands are wet, so keep a bowl of water handy. Now, you can add as little (or none) or as much wasabi down the middle of the roll. I think I was a bit heavy handed here!

Now, we'll add some of our freshly sliced tuna (tekka) and deseeded cucumber strips.

Gently fold the mat and the nori away from you, using the mat to tightly 'snug' the roll together. Keep rolling, lifting the bamboo away as you go. When you get the the end, dampen the end edge of the nori with some water (just run you wet finger along the seam) and the roll will 'seal'.

Now, since we have used Tuna for our roll, we have created Tekka-maki!

One roll generally slices into 8 pieces. So, how does it look? Not bad for not having practiced very much!
Shall we try an inside-out roll? First, we will place a piece of plastic wrap on our bamboo mat, and sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds (many inside out rolls use fine fish roe instead). Then, with wet hands, we will spread a thin layer of sushi rice, as before. Finally we will place our sheet of toasted nori on top, and a bit of wasabi, if desired. If I lift the corner, you can see the structure....

I've decided to add cucumber, avocado and the cooked shrimp... That is part of the beauty of sushi! You can make up your own flavor combos!

Like before, we will gently fold the roll over, pulling away the plastic and the mat, but pulling them snugly into the roll to form the rigid shape.

Our finished inside out roll. Had we not added the shrimp, this would be a classic California roll.
Now, for another type of 'roll'... The hand roll, or Nigiri-zushi. Nigiri means 'squeezed', referring to the way the rice is squeezed into a ball in your hand before being combined with the topping of choice. Form several ping-pong ball size balls of sushi rice, and set aside. Then take your 'topping', in our case a butterflied cooked shrimp (ebi), or avocado slice, and lay on the fingers of your left hand. Place the sushi ball on top and gently squeeze. Set the sushi down, rice side down, and gently form the rice into a tidy bundle under your topping. Often, Nigiri-zushi is 'belted' with a strip of nori.
Now, for our final roll, the cone roll, or temaki-zushi. These are so easy to make, and can include almost any ingredient. They are also easy to eat, so they make a great party dish.
First, cut your sheet of nori in half and then thinly spread sushi rice over the bottom half.

Holding the roll in your left hand, add your fillings.

In our case, tuna and deseeded cucumber in one roll, and salmon and avocado in another.

Shall we eat?

Salmon and Cucumber Maki-zushi with soy and wasabi for dipping, garnished with pickled ginger and seaweed salad

Inside Out Maki-zushi with sesame seeds on the outside

Belted Avocado Nigiri-zushi with a button of Miso paste

Our shrimp hand roll, or Ebi Nigiri-zushi

Salmon and Tuna Hand Rolls

Tuna and Salmon Cone Rolls

All Gone!
So, are you a convert, or were you already a fan?
Dom Arigato!
Jul. 1, 2010 12:49 am
great blog idea!! I am a convert...........I usually HATE most things seafood, so even the seaweed grosses me out sometimes. But I have learned to love sushi and the great fresh flavors that it brings. I still prefer tuna or chicken sushi though. not into that salmon, fishy stuff;) I also love making it myself, although I wish sushi rice was cheaper:/ Oh and I don't like has a really weird taste!! Thanks Good EatNZ!!
Jul. 1, 2010 12:59 am
You make it so easy....they turned out so beautiful. You know , I want to like sushi, I mean I love seafood, but for some reason I have mixed feelings about them. I've give them a chance to try once in a while and most of the times Im disappointed. Sushi is not cheap!. There was one time I decided to go to a sushi bar and ordered a few. I did like it but without the pickled ginger and wasabi. I went again with confidence this time but nope it didn't taste the same. It's so frustrating. Maybe I should make my own from now own. My friend did introduce me to this type of fish that was not fishy but a little hint of butter. Do you know what kind of fish it is?
Jul. 1, 2010 1:07 am
P4F -- I think it is SO weird that we have teriyaki chicken sushi in NZ when we have such great seafood, but I guess we export so much of it If you like making your own, 'make it your way' -- I like 'traditional' sushi, but I thought the avocado roll was the bomb! PS: There is an awesome, authentic sushi palce just across from the ferry terminal in Auckland -- I highly recommend it!
Jul. 1, 2010 1:11 am
Moaa! thanks for your comments! Again, if you make it at home, you can choose you flavors AND it will be FAR cheaper! Go to a good fish monger and get fresh -- no fishy taste there! Also, I should point out that a very small amount of fish will make a LOT of sushi, so you CAN afford the good ingredients. Start slow -- beginner sushi -- don't order 'weird' stuff your first time out!
Jul. 1, 2010 1:25 am
Oh dear --- what a great job! I must admit that given a choice, I would tend to go for other things, but I do occasionally indulge. And now I have this tutorial, I may even offer this more often. Thanks (as usual).
Jul. 1, 2010 1:38 am
Thank you for the post and the pointers. Sushi's are so popular in my area and I always feel out of place when dinig with my family. O o hey, gotta question again. I love soy milk and my slow a** just discovered edemame beans. I really enjoyed them. How do you cook them? It would be neat if you blogged about it. I don't mind waiting. It's probably easy as 123 but I love pictures with instructions and history. Thanks again.
Jul. 1, 2010 1:45 am
Clear and unambiguous - and decidedly seductive. The food wasn't bad either!
Jul. 1, 2010 1:54 am
Hey there - Just wanted to give you a web addy for an authentic mexican place here in AKL, i think they post nation-wide. but they are expensive........
Jul. 1, 2010 1:55 am
Thanks, guys! Didn't think I'd catch so many people at this time. Phil, it's easy, it's good and o so customizable! SJ -- ooh - seductive. A sushi party for two could be that!
Jul. 1, 2010 2:00 am
Moaa -- yummm, love edemame! We get it frozen -- just toss it in some salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, drain, salt and enjoy! (You only eat the inside 'peas') And, like sushi, it's SO good for you! NEVER feel 'out of place' at a sushi restuarant -- everyone had to start somewhere. IF you can find a really good place, the kind where you sit at the bar while the sushi master is preparing, you can talk to him and he will make special things for you according to what he thinks you will like! We used to have 'Yoshi' before we moved -- we never knew what we'd get next but it was always super -- a personal sushi chef!
Jul. 1, 2010 2:43 am
I still don't know if I'm ready to try sushi, but I'm more likely to now that I know more about it!
Jul. 1, 2010 4:24 am
There are few people more stubborn than I when it comes to trying something strange, to me. Sushi is one of the strangest. Your detailed explanation (and mini glossary) have enlightened me to the point I may try this at home where I am able to control the ingredients. Thank you for this great post!
Jul. 1, 2010 5:23 am
I have never tried Sushi. When my son was about 15 - one of his friend's fathers took them to a Sushi bar and he loved it! Some day I will have to try it...
Jul. 1, 2010 6:56 am
I'm ok with sushi. I love wasabi and ginger, but I find that I never really care for the avocado and these days I don't eat much rice, so it never seems worth the effort...I figure if I don't eat it out in restaurants, why bother at home?
Jul. 1, 2010 8:34 am
Excellent tutorial blog. I love sushi but have never attempted it myself. That was very fun to look through.
Jul. 1, 2010 8:37 am
What a great blog! I'm already a convert...I love sushi!
Jul. 1, 2010 10:24 am
Great blog! I would love to try making my own sushi one day! Your pics look so good!
Jul. 1, 2010 12:38 pm
Awesome blog! I was already a fan. I started out with the "safe" cooked sushi rolls, but have graduated to raw salmon and tuna and totally love it! Now if only I could convince my kids it's okay to eat raw fish!
Jul. 1, 2010 3:51 pm
SueB, Mike, Mother Anne and Lynna -- thanks! Maybe I've given you a spark of interest to try something new! Start with the easy stuff!
Jul. 1, 2010 3:52 pm
0cc, Nurse Ellen,LMF and Keri! Glad to know some of you already enjoy sushi! It's pretty easy and a lot of fun to make. Keri, if you got the kids involved in making it and kept it basic, they'd probably love it!
Jul. 1, 2010 3:58 pm
I love making sushi...and I love eating it even more! Beautiful photos!
Jul. 1, 2010 4:01 pm
Thanks, Kathleen! Great to hear you make it, too!
Jul. 1, 2010 6:57 pm
Well you probably have guessed that I'm an old pro at Sushi.....LOVE IT. In fact just today I had it at lunch time. I have tried every conceivable combo out there and love it all...BUT....eel. that is something that I just can't get into and I've given it more than enough chances. I have everything to make it here, but rarely do. I should but there are a couple of places nearby that make it so amazingly good and the fish is always fresh and kept ice cold so I know it's nice and safe. Great job L.
Jul. 2, 2010 5:06 am
Geez, Avon! I'm beginning to feel like I'm writing my blog just for YOU! Wish you were closer -- we could have some serious food fun! I must confess, I don't 'do' eel, either! Hubby loves it! Big surprise for you next week! Fusion Confusion!
Jul. 2, 2010 5:20 pm
I have loved sushi since before it was fashionable here. I even eat eel. I have made it a few times, but there are so many places nearby that make such a wide assortment, it just is easier (and cheaper) to let them feed me. Great blog!
Jul. 2, 2010 5:45 pm
I do eat sushi out most of the time, but it is fun to do at home occassionally, plus it can be a great entertaining idea. I did this post because I don't think many people do try it at hoome.
Jul. 2, 2010 7:33 pm
Umm, man was given fire for a reason?! Hey Midwestern thinking, raw is for veggies only!:) Right?! LOL I have had a version of the rice and seaweed served as an appetizer. I really like the seaweed wrapper. Cool photos as usual my dear. I always learn so much from you!
Jul. 2, 2010 11:11 pm
Start slow, Cat! The seaweed is cooked, the rice is cooked, the cucumbers and avocados are not (but they are veggies) -- maybe add a bit of cream cheese to pad it out! LOL!
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About Me
As a Californian, now living in New Zealand with 20 odd years spent in the Caribbean in between, my cooking style has had a lot of different influences. After several years in other businesses, we finally came to NZ 9 years ago, and with no experience other than eating in a lot of them, we opened a cafe! Our friends thought we were nuts, and in retrospect, we were. We have now sold that business and are trying to figure out what to do next! Watch this space...
My favorite things to cook
I love to play with Asian inspired marinades/ingredients - getting the blance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy just right. I also seem to be drawn to fiddly foods -- home-made pastas, tortillas, filled won tons and grape leaves.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mother loved Mexican food, and definately passed the taste on to me. I always loved my mom's enchiladas and tacos, and often whip up something like that quick for dinner. When I have more time, I make home-made Tamales. It's time consuming, but worth it. We have a hard time getting decent whole roasting turkeys here in NZ, but there is nothing like spending a day preparing 'the works' for a holiday dinner.
My cooking triumphs
I recently catered for a group of 18 - 22 for 18 days straight. I had prep support from the cafe (they were able to make all the cookies, muffins, cakes, etc) but I single-handedly managed all the main dishes, plus the organization and ordering supplies. The group was so impressed they gave me a gift certificate and I had a real Sally Fields' moment: They like me! They really like me!
My cooking tragedies
Serving things at dinner parties, not realizing that they weren't things that everyone liked or had tasted before. I was shocked when an important client turned up for the lovely roast lamb and said he had never eaten lamb before! Corned Beef was another one.
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