Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sushi 101 - Dragon Rolls

So I went to my first ever sushi class yesterday.  What's a girl from New Mexico doing in a sushi class anyway?  Moving to Alaska nine years ago today I had no clue about what I was in for.  1) heating with oil instead of gas or propane? 2) hauling water?....isn't that for heathens?  3) plugging in your car in the winter...why would anyone do that?  4) seeing sushi at the deli counter in all the grocery stores....what is that stuff?  And....what is wasabi anyway?  I think I have to thank my friends Heather Chorley and Bobb Lockwood for introducing me to the world of Japanese food and sushi.  You don't get a lot in the way of sushi in Aztec, New Mexico...so I was completely ignorant as to what it was about but I quickly fell in love with the taste and texture of it.  This year, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival  offered a class in sushi and I quickly signed up.  Good thing I did...the class was completely full and I was the last person able to register.  Calvin Lin from the Asian Bistro on Airport Drive was our teacher.  He showed us how to make California Rolls, Sashimi and Nigiri rolls, hand rolls and Dragon Rolls.  The hardest part about making sushi is getting the rice just right.  Calvin's recipe was perfect!

Here is what you need:
Bamboo sushi roll mat covered in plastic wrap...this was a trick he taught me that really worked....it keeps the mat clean and rolls the rice beautifully!
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Nori seaweed sheets
Rice Cooker or big heavy saucepan
Wood spoon or rice paddle
Plastic wrap (lots of it)

Rice Ingredients:
6 TBSP rice vinegar
2 TBSP sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 Cups uncooked Japanese medium-gran sushi rice (I used Calrose)
4 cups water
OR....Use 6 TBSP of Seasoned Rice Vinegar instead

Sushi Ingredients:
5 sheets of sushi nori (big squares or more if using the smaller ones)
Fully cooked Eel (Dragon Rolls)
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced thin...remove the seeds
2-3 avocados, sliced
Cooked crab or imitation crab sticks
Soy Sauce
Pickled Ginger

Making sushi rice:
Either use 6 TBSP of seasoned rice vinegar OR make your own.  Here is the recipe to make your own.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.  Heat until the sugar dissolves and don't let it boil.  Remove from heat and let it cool.

Wash rice, stirring with your hand, until the water runs clear.  Keep going....this is not clear....

Put in a bowl with water and let it soak for 30 minutes.  Drain in a colander and leave in a bowl inside the fridge for 30 more minutes.  Put rice in a big pot, add 4 cups water,
bring to just a boil, turn down the heat to low/simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for 15 more minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl, loosen the rice grains with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon by folding and chopping...do NOT stir.  Sprinkle seasoned rice vinegar over rice and fold in.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth while you work. 

Place a piece of Nori on the bamboo mat shiny side down...dull side up.  Using your hands, form a snowball shaped ball of rice...It's more than I ever thought they would have used.
  Place on nori sheet and spread to the sides. 
Turn the rice covered nori over and put 1 piece of Krab in the middle, add 2 thin slices of cucumber and slices of avocado. 
Using the bamboo mat, roll up to cover the krab and other ingredients.  You are putting more pressure on the outsides of the bamboo mat and not so much on the top.  Be firm with it.  My problem is I was always too gentle....Nope, make the rice do what you want it to do.  Don't push too much from the top.

Now, alternate with avocado, unagi, avocado, unagi...etc on top of your sealed roll.  Place plastic wrap on top of that and use your bamboo mat to press this in gently.

Remove the roll from the bamboo mat before you cut....I was stupid and didn't do this in the picture!!!!  Using a very sharp knife, cut through the plastic wrap and unagi  roll sections to create bite sized pieces....I could have done better here. 

Dress with unagi sauce. 

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