Travels on my plate: a taste of Japan from home

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‘Travel’ is the word on everyone’s lips, and as we’ve seen the cherry blossom trees coming into bloom across Durham and beyond, a taste of Japan is the perfect accompaniment to the growing Wanderlust in the air.

Although thankfully, the easing of restrictions have brought welcome relief for many, travel remains, for most of us decidedly limited. However, experimenting with new dishes is a great way to keep exploring different cultures and tastes from home.

Making sushi from scratch is surprisingly easy, and is a great activity to try with friends. The competition can be fierce, but it’s definitely worth a try!

What you will need:

  • Bamboo rolling mat
  • Cling Film
  • Chopping Board
  • A Sharp Knife
  • Bowl of Water
  • Metal Spoon

Ingredients:

  • Sushi Nori (Seaweed Sheets)
  • Sushi Rice
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Soy Sauce
  • Your choice of filling!

Optional but delicious:

  • Wasabi
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Siracha

Method: Making the Rice

  1. Measure out 175-200g of sushi rice per person and rinse until the water runs clear – the rice should be sticky, but this comes from the rice seasoning, not the starch!
  2. Put rice into a pan and cover with cold water up to a finger’s breadth above the rice. Place the pan on a high heat and stir the rice to keep it from sticking. When the water starts to boil, turn it right down to a simmer and put the lid on.
  3. When all the water is gone the rice is done – check this by tilting the pan. When ready, take it off the heat entirely, fluff it up with a wooden spatula, add the seasoning and leave it to cool.

Seasoning the Rice

  1. Put a small pan onto the hob, and add in rice vinegar, salt and sugar to these measurements:

For 175-200g of rice (1 serving):

2 tbsp Rice Vinegar

  1. tsp Sugar
    1. tsp Salt
  2. Allow the salt and sugar to dissolve in the vinegar, and then stir the seasoning into the pan of rice using a wooden spatula.

Method: Making a classic sushi roll

  1. Take a bamboo rolling mat and cover it with clingfilm. This will stop the nori sticking to the mat, and also save you having to scrub it later.
  2. Lay a nori sheet on the mat, shiny side facing down – the rice should go on the coarser side.
  3. Take a scoopful of rice and place it in the middle of one end of the nori sheet. Then, take the metal spoon and dip it in the water bowl – I’ve found that this is the easiest way to pat down and spread the rice. Try and cover just under half of the nori sheet in a rectangle of rice.
  4. Take your fillings and lay them horizontally along the middle of the rice.
  5. Take hold of the bamboo mat and roll it away from you. As you go, keep a close eye on how the nori sheet is folding, and try to guide it with your fingers.
  6. As you reach the point where the rice is almost enclosed, use your fingers to push any flyaway fillings back into the rice. Try and keep your rolling tight, and don’t be afraid to unroll and re-do if it’s not quite right!
  7. As the roll is almost finished, take the spoon again and dab some water along the final line of nori to stick it firmly, enclosing the roll.
  8. Place the roll on the chopping board with the seam facing downwards. Then, take your knife and wet it with the bowl of water. As you cut the sushi, try not to use too much pressure. Instead, use a sawing motion for better results. Each roll should cut 6-8 pieces.
  9. Dip the rolls in some soy sauce and enjoy!

Some of Our Favourite Fillings:

              Spicy Salmon Roll

  • Salmon (*Disclaimer* we used salmon from the supermarket. After reading a little online, we discovered the main difference between normal fish and sushi-grade fish is that the latter is frozen for about 5 days before use to ensure that there are no parasites in it. By using salmon from a fish farm, this problem can mostly be avoided. Although it seemed wrong to us to start with, we’ve done this several times now and had no problems!)
  • Siracha
  • Avocado, thinly sliced
  • Carrot, thinly sliced

              California Roll

  • Crab Sticks
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber

              Teriyaki Mushroom Roll (V)

  • Teriyaki Mushrooms (Cook some normal mushrooms in soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and a bit of honey until they’re glazed)
  • Carrot, thinly sliced
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced

Enjoy!

Illustration:

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