Easy Sushi

Sushi is not hard to make. If I can do it, anyone can. I make the easy sushi, not so fancy, but very tasty. You can make it too, but feel free to experiment with ingredients. There is no wrong way.

Here are the ingredients I use. You can see them on the island, ready to be put together. The rice is Arborio, a short grain (sticky) rice named after the town in Italy where it is grown. It’s usually used for risotto, but it works well in sushi, too. There are several other brands of sticky rice (look for short grain). I add a tablespoon of rice vinegar and stir it around after the rice is cooked. The rice should be made ahead and then chilled. One generous cup of raw rice grains, once cooked, will yield about five rolls of sushi.

The blue dish next to the rice has cold water for dipping very clean or gloved hands in so the (sticky) rice won’t stick to the hands.

I have a dish of mayo on hand and a spatula for spreading it on the Sushi Nori (seaweed sheets).

You’ll see some asparagus and carrot strips that I heated in a tiny bit of water in the microwave for about 2 minutes. They are now drained and chilled.

And most importantly, we have cold-smoked salmon (coho in this case) which will give the ultimate flavour thrill to the sushi. The salmon needs to be sliced into strips before putting into the sushi, of course.

So here we go.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the sheet of dried seaweed. I have it sitting on a bamboo mat for rolling it up later.

Put a generous (HUGE) tablespoonful of rice onto the seaweed and with wetted hands, pat it into a thin layer.

My layer of rice is not yet evenly spread. I don’t go right to the top end, wanting some seaweed for sealing the roll. Make the rice layer as thin as possible.

At the end closest to you, make a little ditch in the rice and place the carrot sticks, asparagus, and salmon strips in it. Then, using the end of the mat to help start a firm roll, fold over the seaweed, press it down gently and roll it up. You can drape the mat over it loosely and then press the roll together evenly if you like.

Put the finished roll aside on a small cutting board and get the next sheet of seaweed ready for loading up.

 With a VERY sharp knife, cut the roll in the middle, as shown below. Then place the two halves side by side and cut each in half again.

 

You should have eight pieces when you’re finished.

Eating the sushi…. There are as many ways as there are mouths in the world. I like to put a tiny dab of wasabi (Japanese horseradish) on a piece of sushi, spoon over some soya sauce, and top it with a thin slice of pickled ginger. Not shown in the photo is my favourite “condiment,” which I remembered to put on the table later, black roasted sesame seeds. Sprinkle these on and it adds a nutty crunch to the already fabulous variety of textures and flavours.

You can vary the foods you put in the sushi rolls. I’ve heard of cantaloupe being used, as well as mushrooms,  avocado, and lettuce. I just googled sushi ingredients and was bowled over by the huge list of possibilities. Just pick some of your favourite foods and give it a try.

Smoked Salmon

Being married to a commercial fisherman has its downsides for the wife who stays home to look after the house and pets. Spending long summers alone takes getting used to. I read a lot in the evenings.

All the yardwork is my very own to deal with. No help from the absentee man of the house.

I’ve learned to do a lot of jobs that  are usually considered the man’s responsibility — jobs most women don’t ever have to deal with (like changing the electrical switch for the burner on the cooktop when it starts coming on by itself and it’s Sunday and there’s no repairman available).

I stay home a lot because there’s no one to look after the pets if I were to leave town for a day or so. Sure, there’s always the kennels, but the dogs have asked me please not to leave them again.

But when the fisherman comes home, all of the above has been worth it.

Among other things, it’s the fisherman’s duty to bring home a few of the salmon he’s caught so the poor deprived fishwife can have a taste of seafood. It just happens that the fisherman has learned how to make an excellent cold-smoked salmon product. Some people like smoked salmon done in a hot smoke so the fish is cooked as well as smoked. Some people like it done “lox” style, where it is cured with salt and sugar and then lightly smoked while cool air is blown over it with a fan. We like both, but prefer the cold smoke.

The preparation is a huge amount of work. The salmon has to be filleted, and alternately salted, sugared, air dried, oiled, and “rummed,” The fisherman enjoys the last part best where the oil is removed by wiping the fish down with rum. Sometimes the air is a bit nippy, so what else can you do but have a nip of rum to keep the chill off? If it’s good for the fish, it’s probably good for the fisherman too.

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The sides of salmon are hung in the smoker. Underneath  is a hot plate where woodchips dampened with water are set to smoke. A fan blows the air around so the smoke tars don’t settle on the fish. You can see the fan hiding in the center of the smoker behind and below the two door latches. Depending on the thickness of the fillets, it can take up to 20 – 22 hours of smoking to cure the fish. When it is done and chilled, the bulk of the fish is cut into smaller pieces to be vacuum packed and frozen for use throughout the year.

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Of course we always save a piece for the test kitchen. We have to be sure it’s okay to eat.Thinly sliced, it is put on a piece of bagel with cream cheese and red onion slices. Nothing tastes quite so good.