Friday, June 27, 2008

How to Make Sushi


I took some time just now to write-up a reciepe on how I make sushi for a coworker of my wife's. I thought I would go ahead and share it, rather then fire it off to some clown I don't know.

We eat alot of sushi, and I am at a point where I can consistantly make it well. Good enough for me, anyway. In case someone here wants to take the plunge, here you go:

How to make kappa (cucumber), California (avocado, cucumber, crab), yum-yum (aka spicy crab rolls)

Ingredients (a regular grocery with a good international section will usually have this stuff (try meijers))
Sushi rice (kokuho rose or nishiki brands, but I have had better luck if it says “sushi” on it somewhere)
Nori (sheets of seaweed)
Imitation crabmeat
Sugar, salt, vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar (Marukan brand)
Mayo (light is better)
srirachi hot sauce
soy sauce (kikkomen low sodium is my fav (do not be tempted to buy generic))
sesame seeds(optional)
wasabi (optional)
pickled ginger (optional)


1) Rice:
a. cook rice in a pot according to directions. For 4 rolls I count on using up 2 cups of dry rice. Pre-rinse the rice before cooking to get all the dusty starches off (which tends to make it sticky and goopy). It is important to leave it in the pot with the lid on after cooking for at least 10 minutes as it cools. Scrape out the rice, and make sure to separate the dried-up and crunchy parts that are on the walls of the pot from the soft parts. Give the crunchy parts to your pooch or your neighbor.
b. While rice is cooking, prepare the seasoning for the rice. ¼ cup white or unseasoned rice vinegar, 3 tbs sugar, 1 tsp. salt. Or, ¼ of seasoned rice vinegar bought in a bottle (see above). I usually have to microwave it to get the sugar to dissolve.
c. Spread the rice on a dinner plate to allow it to cool. I cover it lightly with saran wrap so it doesn’t harden up too much, too quickly.
d. Pore the seasoning (see b) on the rice and work in with your fingers.
e. Wait until the rice cools to room tempature (or near). You’ll have to play with taking the saran wrap on and off as it cools, and when to add the seasoning (I usually wait 10-20 minutes after it cools from cooking). The desired texture is as dry and uniform as possible, free of crunchy pieces here-and-there, and not a stuck-together goopy mess. Starting with high quality rice is a good idea (whatever it the most expensive at the store).

2) The insides:
a. I usually stick with 4 ingredients:
i. Cucumber, no skins or seeds. Skin the cucumber, slice it down the middle, take out the core with a spoon, pat dry with paper towel. Slice what is left as thin as you can.
ii. Avocado, try to make thin as possible within reason. I sometimes skip these because they are kinda expensive
iii. Crab. By the imitation crab that look like little sticks. I usually cut them as long as possible with a ¼” cross-section.
iv. Spicy crab mix stuff, mince crab, mix with mayo and srirachi hot-sauce to taste. I probably use a ½ tsp. of mayo per 6 sticks of crab. IT IS VERY EASY TO ADD TOO MUCH MAYO. You should never really taste the mayo.

3) Assembly:
a. Orient the nori sheet with the long dimension from right to left. Spread rice one-kernal thick on to a sheet of nori. Pre-moistening fingers helps. You should see very little nori and make sure to do it to the edge. Make sure to leave about 1” at the top (the edge away from you) uncovered.
b. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on the rice. I don’t always do this, and I am not convinced anyone can tell… except for kappa rolls. They do stand out on kappa rolls.
c. Put the stuff in and stack it close to the end facing you. In general, don’t add too much stuff. It is easy to do this.
i. California rolls: equal parts crab, avocado and cucumber. It is also pretty good to use the spicy crab mix instead of plain crab. This is sometimes known as spicy California rolls.
ii. Yum-yum rolls: all spicy crab. I sometimes put a few slivers of cucumber in there.
iii. Kappa rolls. Just cucumber.
d. Roll it up starting with the side closest to you. Fold and roll once, and then roll the rest once. Like a sleeping bag. Get the non-rice covered part a little wet, and press it tight against the roll. If you can buy one of those bamboo sushi mats, it’ll probably help.

4) Serving:
a. Wait until they dry and cut into 1/8ths
b. Serve with a dollop of wasabi paste, a small bunch of pickled ginger, and some soy sauce.
c. Place in mouth, chew, swallow. Make sure to chew at least 30 times per bite.

Most of the stuff that I added was based on trial and error over the years. I have found that getting the rice done right is pretty darn important. It is easy for me to under/over cook it, under/over season it, or let it go to dry or be too wet. All of these conditions ruin the experience. I took me time to get it right.

Do not use cheap ingredients. It is tempting to do this due to the ingredients being generally expensive, especially for up-front cost on the condiments and other things you do not usually use. Don’t do that.

Also, be patient. After probably 4-5 years of consistently making sushi I have just recently in the past 2 years gotten it to taste close to what you would buy in a restaurant. You are probably a better cook than I, though.

Chewing: As I have said, please make sure to chew thoroughly.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

New Car

I bought a new car, which I very much like. The entire day, and some of the days afterward, when I would think about the new car, or talk to someone else about it, I would hear the voice of Rod Roddy saying " A NEW CAR!".

This really added to the excitement!!

As you might remember, I was thinking something more sporty, but I had a moment of clarity and decided to get a cheaper "s" model of the Mazda3, which is slightly sportier then the base model, but less than the Mazdaspeed3. This saves me significant money on the initial cost, fuel (both economy and not buying premium), and insurance. I also realized one day, that if I bought a sports car, I would not drive it fast very long, especially with my daughter in the car.

So, I did the right thing and got something more practical. It is roomy-enough (due to being able to haul both babies and pooches), relatively cheap, good-looking, pretty good on fuel economy (29 hwy), and fun to drive, despite not having a turbo. Believe it or not, I like small cars like this, due to snugness of the cockpit, the inherent handling, and ease of parking. And, like I said, this is the sportier version of this car, so the steering is extra tight and responsive, handling is excellent, and the engine/acceleration is decent.

In general, I am opposed to putting alot of cheap add-ons to a car in an attempt to make them look cool, so I don't think I will do that. Besides, I like the way it looks, and I really cannot afford to spend money on spoilers, trim, rims, tassles, etc.

It was a long and difficult road. For months, I watched the market and considered the gas milage and prices of many cars, including Subaru WRX, Nissan Sentra R, Honda Civic Si, Mazda Speed3s, Toyota Corrola, Mini Coopers, Mazda3, and Mazda6s. Then I looked over Memorial day weekend, I seriously considered many other cars, including: Mazda6, Mazda6 wagon, Saab 9-2, Saab 9-3, VW Passat wagon, VW Jetta, and even a Mini Cooper. I finally decided on the Mazda3, due to it nailing everything I deemed important. Please do take the time to inform me of the inferior/superiority of any of the above models, in order to highlight your automotive knowledge, and/or drive me into a unrecoverable buyer's remorse stupor.

I'd really like that.

Anyway, please congratulate me on this purchase, which I have been looking forward to for years.

While you are at it, also congratulate me for my 1 year anniversary at my new job coming up this week. They still haven't wised up and fired me.

You know what? You might as well also congratulate me on my 4 year Wedding anniversary coming up in July. She still hasn't wised up and fired me (out of a cannon and through a giant paper hoop with a divorce lawsuit written on it ).

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