Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Back to Basics - Food for Thought

Sushi is becoming an extremely popular food in the US and it's spawned great creativity in the world of rolls. There are a variety of them with many ingredients and beautiful toppings. It's all very delicious, but lets not forget about the simpler things.

I really enjoy making up rolls and new "fusion" style sushi, but I admit I kind of forgot how good just simple pieces of sushi are. 
A little while ago I started some part time work at a new sushi bar. I really enjoy it there and of course I couldn't resist tasting everything. I was reminded how good just a piece of fish and some rice is. Not much to it, but with good quality fish there's not much room for improvement. Honestly, as beautiful as rolls can be, there's usually just so many components that you get lost in a vortex of textures and flavors. All together they create something good, but you have to be able to appreciate each ingredient for what it is. All these sauces and toppings you usually find in a roll just mask the taste of the fish inside. I understand that to each their own, but everyone should try to take the time to get back to the basics. 

Love the food for what it is, don't try too hard to turn it into something it isn't. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sushi vinegar revisited

I am doing a new post, another recipe for sushi vinegar. Again, this one is very simple, maybe even easier than the last one i posted.

I picked up another job at a Japanese Izakaya downtown and lucky for me, the chef there has been making sushi for 23 years! Yuji-san is very, very talented and I'm so excited to gain new knowledge from him, and I'll be posting it here too!

So you will need:
Rice vinegar

There are 3 numbers you should remember: 6,3,1. 6 parts vinegar, 3 parts sugar and 1 part salt.

Combine all ingredients with a whisk and make sure everything is disolved. Don't worry about heating it up. Once everything is mixed add a piece of kombu, about the size of your hand. Now all you have to do is let it sit and you can use it the next day!

This recipe may taste saltier to some, so you can add more sugar if desired, but I think the saltiness really compliments raw fish.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sushi Basics - California Roll

(img from California Sushi & Teriyaki)

So today I'm going to post something basic, something that I probably should have put up first to help you guys get into it quicker.

Everyone knows what a California roll is, in my mind it's like the peanutbutter & jelly of sushi, but it's simple and pretty much everyone likes it. 
For those of you who don't know, it contains:
-Crab or Kanikama (kanikama is like crab salad, usually made with mayo. Also "kani" means crab.)
-Cucumber cut into strips

Very simple list of ingredients. (excluding the rice, nori and sesame seeds, but that's found in pretty much all rolls.) Also there is no raw fish in this so it's an easy starting point for people who are new to eating sushi. 

You will need-
 Nori 1/2 sheet
4 oz sushi rice
Roasted sesame seeds
Avocado (2 - 3 slices)
Cucumber cut into strips
Crab/kanikama (about 2 oz)
Sushi mat
Sharp knife.


Remember to spread the rice over the rough side because it will better stick to the nori. You also want the rice to stay soft and fluffy, so don't press it down too hard. Once you've evenly spread the rice out, sprinkle some sesame seeds over it and then flip it over, seaweed facing you. 
Next step is pretty self explanatory. make sure all of your fillings are spread evenly across the seaweed.
Almost done! Now gently pick up the edge facing you and roll it over the fillings. You want to stop part way so that the opposite edge is still showing because that little bit will help seal the roll. You should squeeze it slightly so that everything is tight and then finally finish rolling it over so the seam is on the bottom.
After you're happy with your rolling - take the sushi mat (flat side down) and shape the roll. I usually press inwards, making the roll a bit taller and keeping the top rounded. Some people make their rolls square, others make them round. It's really up to you. You can also shape them into triangles and so on, I'll post about that later.
So finally you're going to cut your roll. Usually rolls are 8 to 10 pieces. The easiest way to get even sized pieces is to cut your roll in half, then quarters and then eighths. The actual cutting motion can be tricky for some people. It's a rocking, heel to toe motion. Heel being closest to the handle and toe being the tip of your knife.

And now you can plate it! :)

A cool little tip to make handling rice easier:
A lot of people use water on their hands, but cooking spray works great! Just spray a bit into one palm and then rub it in both hands.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: K1 Teck - Silicon Makisu (Sushi roller)

Hey everybody,
So this is a product I randomly stumbled upon while cruising through Hmart. I decided it would be a good idea to give it a test run. 

When making rolls it's very important to have a "maki", the bamboo mat that is used to form and actually roll your sushi (pictured on left). These aren't super hard to find and are pretty cheap. I'm seeing these more and more in stores that have any kind of Asian foods section. One thing that can be kind of annoying though is that cleaning can be difficult, between each little piece of wood and after time the string holding it together can become worn. One easy way to keep it clean is to wrap your mat in plastic wrap, but this has to be changed every so often. 

So, when I saw this product I thought it would be a good investment since it's non-stick and would be easy to clean. (not to mention the color is kinda fun.)

It totally looks like a silicon pot-holder, but I tried to look passed that. 

It's extremely flexible and, like I said earlier, it's really easy to clean. Rice doesn't stick to it at all so plastic wrap isn't necessary.

Being so flexible and flimsy, it's difficult to get a firm and uniform shape. Honestly, I thought I just needed to get used to it, but it just became more annoying over time. 
Currently it's sitting all alone on the oyster station at work. 

If you see one and want to give it a try, go ahead. It was only 4.99 and it could work better for smaller rolls. If not, you got a pot-holder out of it. 

I've seen similar products that might yeild better results. There are some out there that are made from harder material. When the chance arises, I'll pick up one of those.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mountain Goat Roll (Vegetarian) and Palisade Wedding Expo!

During the spring/summer, Palisade held a wedding expo to display their facilities and banquet menu. It was really nice, held indoors and outdoors with a bunch of great little bites. Pictured above is the platter I made for that event as well as an awesome sculpture made by Creative Ice.

For being a vegetarian roll, it has a meaty flavor that everyone can enjoy. However, it does have goat cheese in it. 

This roll consists of:
Cucumber (Cut into strips.)
Goat cheese
Stir fried Shitake mushrooms
Sweet chili sauce (May Ploy)

For the mushrooms:
You should remove the stems from the mushrooms and slice the caps. You want to cut about twice as much as you think you will need because they will shrink when cooked.
Heat up a pan with sesame oil and add your mushrooms. The mushrooms will soak up the oil as they cook so if it looks like it's disappearing, don't freak out. 
Next you should add a little salt and fresh ground pepper, soy sauce and white sugar. Make sure you add enough sugar so that you can taste some sweetness. 
After you've added all your ingredients keep stir frying the mushrooms. You want to cook them till they're dark and kind of dried out looking. Don't worry about frying them to death. Over cooking the mushrooms gives them a great texture and kind of a charred, meaty taste. The roll is mainly made up of very soft ingredients, so having that "toughness" balances it out. 

The mushrooms are kind of addicting. I like eating them with goat cheese on a cracker as well. 

Moving on, 
Start a roll Uramaki style (rice outside) and place the cucumber, goat cheese (putting softened cheese in a piping bag makes this easier and less messy) and mushrooms inside. Try to have an equal amount of cheese to mushrooms because the cheese can overpower the other flavors.
Once rolled, I put sliced avocado on top and then pressed it with a bamboo mat to hold things together.
Cut your roll then top with sweet chili sauce and some roasted sesame seeds.

I usually don't like vegetarian rolls (and hardly make them) but this one is a great snack and is very light. Good for anyone who doesn't really like raw fish. 

Here are some more pictures from the expo :)

OMG Roll!

So this is the OMG Roll! (pictured in back)

This roll was an adaptation of something I saw on
Usually I'd explore the web for ideas and came across this roll which I liked very much, but thought I could add a little more to it :)

This roll is a little more advanced, but it's basically an Uramaki roll with toppings, that's then seared. If you don't have a torch, it's perfectly good left unseared as well. It's got great flavor and is like having multiple rolls in one!

OMR Roll (My version) consists of:
Cream cheese (cut into strips for easier handling, or you can soften and put in a piping bag.)
Kanikama (crab mix, what you see in a California roll.)
Shrimp tempura (You can find frozen tempura at most stores that's easily heated in an oven.)
Salmon (Make sure it's sushi grade!)
Spicy mayo
Unagi sauce
Masago (optional)
Green onion
Roasted sesame seeds
Sriracha (optional)

A lot of ingredients, I know, but if you can pull it off it's worth a try :)

Since there's some much filling you want to be careful when rolling, and make sure it's completely sealed. In case any of you were wondering, the plastic wrap prevents sticking between the roll and your bamboo mat. It also keeps the toppings in place while cutting. Also be sure to use a rocking motion when cutting your rolls. It's "heel to toe" movement (Heel meaning the back end of your blade.) Making sure you use fewing motions when slicing will give you a cleaner cut, so try to avoid sawing at it if possible. 

Thanks again :)

Simple sushi vinegar!

This is something very important for anyone who wants to start making sushi!

Believe it or not, but rice is actually more important than the fish that accompanies it. It seems quite simple, but it's something that can take forever to get the hang of. 

Sushi vinegar is usually sour in flavor and slightly sweet. It's basically comprised of....
Rice vinegar
Kombu (dried kelp)

Of course you can find premade sushi vinegar in stores, but if you want to make your own here's a simple recipe.

1 part rice vinegar
1 part white sugar
1/2 part salt
1 piece of kombu about the size of your palm (if you don't have any, skip it)

Mix the first 3 ingredients together in a pot over a low heat then place the kombu in. You want to constantly stir this mix (still on low heat) so that the salt and sugar disolves. 
When everything is well combined, remove it from the heat and let it cool.
If you want you can squeeze some lemon and orange juice into the vinegar for some extra flavor :)

The vinegar can be stored at room temperature and will last a while if you made too much. And besides being used for rice, it can make a great dressing. You can easily make a cucumber salad called "Sunumomo" ("su" means vinegar.) That's just made of thin sliced cucumber that's dressed with vinegar.

Anyways, the main use for this vinegar....
After you've cooked your white rice you should move it to a bowl that's not going to retain heat. You want the rice to be hot when you start out, but it's going to have to cool down after the vinegar is incorporated. 

It's about 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar to 1 cup of cooked rice. Usually a chef always knows the amount per batch or will add till the right saturation level is reached (That's something that people learn over a period of time.)

Mix the rice and vinegar around using a sideways, slicing motion. You want to mix and separate the grains, but don't smash them. Durring this process you can fan the rice to speed cooling or let it sit and mix periodically to release the steam.

Now you're done!

Sushi rice can be kept for a couple of days. It can be left room temp if it's in a sealed container with a damp towel over the rice. Putting it in the fridge will cause the rice to harden. Also make sure not to store your rice until it has reached at least room temperature because placing hot sushi rice in a sealed container will cause discoloration. 

Thanks, for reading :)

Hello and Miso & Maple glazed Salmon roll!

Hey everybody,
I have come here to give my blog new life! About a year ago I started one to share all my sushi thoughts, but I became to busy to maintain it and it wasn't getting a lot of traffic. But I'm here now thanks to some new inspiration from a friend of mine :D

I've been working in the Seattle area for about 4 years, making sushi. I was the head chef at Mizu and am now the sushi lead at Palisade. Currently I am waiting for my menu launch there. 

Anyways, I'll start my first post with a pretty simple roll I came up with. 

This is kind of an adaptation of a recipe I found on Foodwishes. It's a Miso and Maple glazed Salmon roll!

The recipe is pretty simple for the glaze:
1 part Miso paste (I used "Shiro" Miso, or "White")
1 part sushi vinegar (He used rice vinegar, but I like the flavor more of sushi vinegar. Doesn't really matter which one you use.)
1 part maple syrup
Sriracha to taste
Black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl (it's easier if you dissolve the miso in the vinegar first.) Then taste to see if you want more Sriracha or pepper. If your glaze tastes too strongly of vinegar don't be worried. After it's been cooked it will taste sweeter. 

Since this is just for a roll I used pretty small pieces of salmon. One roll probably only contains about 1 to 1.5 oz of salmon. 
Place your salmon on greased foil, on a tray and bake it. Also, since it's such a small amount, you can do this in a toaster oven, on broil. It won't take long. 

In the mean time you can blanch some asparagus to go with the roll. You can use just the salmon if you want, but adding some vegetables will give it more textures. (It's kind of like a salmon dinner in a roll.)

When all parts are done, take a sheet of nori and place it in front of you vertically, rough side up! Rice always goes on the rough side because it will hold better! Spread the rice about 2/3 of the way, bottom to top. Place all your components near the bottom of the nori and roll it up :)
Cut into desired number of pieces and garnish with roasted sesame seeds.

This type of roll is a typical "maki"; seaweed on the OUTSIDE. Most people see "Uramaki", which are rolls with rice on the outside. (Ex: California rolls) 

Hope you enjoyed my first post. I will post more about sushi vinegar, rice, tools, etc. later on.