by Heather Harris Brady
Sushi originated sometime before the second century A.D., when people in parts of China started wrapping fish in rice to preserve it via fermentation for later meals. At first the rice was discarded, until some thrifty soul ate the whole thing. This technique spread to Japan, and in the 1600s people started adding rice vinegar to the rice and serving it as-is. Heaven knows I did not grow up in a sushi-eating household, although we did eat a lot of other interesting pickled things both animal and vegetable.
Sushi is a fun project and it’s easy! The first thing you need is the proper wrapping:
One package will make a LOT of sushi. The sheets are beautiful, with the fresh smell of the sea:
The second thing you need is rice, and it needs to be sushi rice. If you’re a country dweller like I am you can often find this in the bulk section of food co-ops, or in the Asian aisle of your grocery.
California Rolls, Makes three rolls – about 24 pieces of sushi
- 3/4 lb. cooked king crab legs, cleaned
- Half of one avocado
- Half of one cucumber
- 1-1/2 c. sushi rice
- 3 T. rice vinegar
- 2 T. sugar
- 1 t. salt
- Soy sauce
- Pickled ginger
Wash the rice gently in a strainer until the water runs clear. Then combine it in a pan with 2 c. water and leave it to soak for 30 minutes. (You can also use a rice cooker for this part.)
Turn on the heat and bring the rice to a gentle boil. Cover the pan and cook for about 12 minutes. The rice should be just tender and the water will be absorbed. Spread the rice out in a bowl.
Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Microwave it for about 30 seconds and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Pour the vinegar over the rice and mix it through gently with your fingers. Set it aside.
Clean your vegetables. Cut the avocado into thin strips and the cucumber into thin matchsticks. I did some zucchini too, because when it’s your sushi you make the rules!
A bamboo rolling mat is nice. You don’t have to spring for a “real” one. You can use a bamboo placemat, part of a windowshade, whatever as long as it’s impeccably clean. Or, you could use a dry piece of parchment paper.
Lay out one sheet of the seaweed.
Spoon out one-third of the rice and pat it into a thinnish layer. Put some of the crab int the center. Make sure you’ve pulled out all the pesky bits of cartilage.
Lay the vegetables next to the crab.
Pick up the edge of the mat and fold out the outside (long) edge over the filling. Tuck the ends under with your fingers then roll the mat up. Press down lightly as you go to seal the edges.
When you roll the mat back you will have a lovely California roll.
I made these in the afternoon, about two hours before dinner, so I wrapped them in waxed paper and put them in the fridge. I like my sushi really cold.
When you’re ready to serve unwrap the rolls and cut them into eight slices. I cut them in half first, and then cut each half in half until I have eight even pieces.
Arrange them on a plate so everyone can admire your handiwork.
Serve the sushi with the pickled ginger on the side and little cups so people can mix the soy sauce and wasabi to their liking.