Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Lunch Box - Sushi

Every now and then I treat myself by going to the really expensive sushi place on the King's Road for lunch. It's difficult to get out of there without spending about £10 (which for a takeaway lunch is pretty hefty I think), but it's always worth it. I love sushi and would happily eat it every day.

I can remember when the first takeaway sushi place opened in Christchurch in the 1990s. Me and mum would sometimes get a box of chicken teriyaki after my jazz class (I would have been about 10 years old). I was apprehensive about the raw fish aspect of it at first, but slowly made my way through the menu and figured out how to use the disposable chopsticks. A few years later we bought a sushi mat so we could make it at home. Although it can be tricky at first, once you've learnt how to make a sushi roll you'll never forget.

The trick to making sushi at home which tastes just as good as store-bought (and a ton better than the Pret variety) lies in the rice. The technique and flavouring of the rice has to be just right, or you end up with a tasteless gloopy mess. Here is my recipe for perfect every time sushi rice:

Sushi rice for 4 large rolls:

2 cups of white short-grain rice (if I can't find sushi rice I buy risotto or arborio rice)
2 1/4 cups of cold water
1/2 cup of white vinegar
2 tablespoons of white sugar
1 teaspoon of powdered fish stock, or 1/4 teaspoon of salt for flavouring

  1. First you need to wash your rice. It's VERY IMPORTANT for the flavour and consistency of the finished product. Place your rice into a large bowl and cover it with water, swirl it around with your hands and strain. Do this 4 or 5 times until the water runs clear.
  2. Place your rice into a pot and cover with water. Leave to soak for at least 30 minutes (but no more that 8 hours or the rice will begin to break down). After soaking, bring the rice to the boil, then cover and turn the heat down to the lowest heat and leave for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat but leave the pot on the hob for an extra 15 minutes.
  3. While your rice is soaking or cooking you can prepare your flavouring. In a small pot gently heat the vinegar, sugar and stock until the sugar and stock is dissolved. Leave to cool.
  4. Using a wooden or plastic spoon, transfer your rice into a large bowl. Mix in the flavouring syrup until well combined. Use a fan to cool the rice as you are mixing it, if you are using it straight away. If you want to use it later, place a wet dishcloth over the bowl so the rice doesn't dry out.

Some great fillings for sushi are: Tinned tuna mixed with mayo, crab, smoked or cooked chicken, fresh salmon or tuna, egg omelet, avocado, cucumber, carrot, red pepper and pickles. You can pick up sushi mats, seaweed paper, pickled ginger and wasabi from most Asian food stores.

Main: Sushi with mayo tuna, cucumber and carrot with pickled ginger and wasabi on the side
Fruit: Yoghurt with tinned peaches (underneath)
Sweet: Carrot and Apple muffin

Tip: If you want to make sushi for a day or two in advance, don't cut it into pieces. Just wrap it in cling film and cut it when you're ready to eat.

It seems like a pain at first, but the more you make sushi the easier it gets. I'm going to be making this a lot more from now on, and spend my £10 on something else!

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