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Japanese Cuisine
Basic of Sushi-rice Preparation
Traditional Sushi
1. Rice selection, water measurement, soaking

It is best to avoid newly harvested rice, which has a high water content and becomes slightly sticky when cooked. For sushi purposes, hulled rice that was harvested in the fall may be used from about January of following year. For cooking, use the same quantity (or 10 percent more) of water as of rice, less 10 percent to compensate for the vinegar that must be added after cooking.

About one and a half or two hours before cooking time, wash the rice thoroughly and allow it to soak in the correct amount of water in the heavy metal, lidded pot in which it will be cooked. Even in hot summertime, the rice must be soaked for at least thirty minutes.

2. Cooking

A strip of kelp (kombu) added to the rice in the first stage of cooking greatly enhances flavor. There are two ways of achieving the desired effect. The kombu may be added to the rice during the soaking time. In this case, to compensate for the amount the seaweed absorbs, a little water must be added (one ounce or 30 grams for a piece of kombu 4 in or 10 cm long). With the lid on, bring the contents of the pot to a rapid boil over a high heat. Then immediately remove the kombu. Put the lid on again and continue cooking over a high heat for about two minutes, taking care the liquid does not boil over. Reduced the heat to medium and cook for from seven to eight minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for from ten to fifteen minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to stand, covered, for from five to ten more minutes. Do not remove the lid during this final steaming period.

3. Vinegar Seasoning

While the rice is cooking, dissolve sugar and salt in vinegar. It is permissible to heat the mixture to facilitate the dissolving process, but it must not be allowed to boil. The proportions of salt and sugar vary according to the kind of sushi being prepared. For instance, chirashi-zushi is better if the sushi rice is slightly sweet, whereas sushi involving fish that has been firmed by steeping in the mixture of vinegar and salt and will be eaten without say sauce should be both slightly sweet and slightly salty. The proportion of vinegar, however, remains stable: from 13 to 15 percent of the amount of rice. With allowances for personal preference, the following amounts are roughly standard.

A. Less-sweet sushi rice for nigiri-sushi, Edo (Tokyo) chirashi-sushi, thin sushi rolls:

  • 4 1/4 cups rice
  • 4 1/5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 tsp salt
B. Sweet sushi rice for inari-sushi, thick sushi rolls:
  • 4 1/4 cups rice
  • 4 1/5 cups kombu stock
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 4-5  Tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 tsp salt
C. Sweet-salty sushi rice for saba-sushi and sushi used to stuff such as horse mackerel (aji) and sweetfish (ayu):
  •  4 1/4 cups rice
  • 4 1/5 cups kombu stock
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 3 1/2  Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 Tbsp salt
Basic Ingredients:
 Rice | Lavar (Nori) |  Kombu (Kelp) 
Vinegar |  Soysauce | sake and Beer 
Wasabi (Horseradish Paste) 
 Sweet-sour Pickled Ginger 
 Salted Plum Paste
California Roll

1. Inside-out sushi

Spread a wet, well-wrung kitchen towel on a bamboo rolling mat. Make an even layer of sushi rice on the towel. Top this with a sheet of toasted nori. On top of this make another layer of rice, and put some crab meat and boiled green asparagus in a line down the center. Roll in the usual fashion. remove the mat and slice the roll. Then garnish it with sieved hard-boiled egg yolk or red caviar.

2. Salmon roll

Cut fresh salmon, diagonally, into very thin slices. Spread kitchen wrap on a bamboo rolling mat. Make an unbroken layer of salmon slices on the wrap. On top of this, make an even layer of sushi rice. Down the center of the rice, make a row of green Shiso leaves. In the center of the row of leaves, lay an even strip of thick omelet
(Cucumber, cooked green asparagus, or daikon-radish sprouts- may be substituted for the omelet.) Then roll in the same fashion as for a thick nori roll. Cut into convenient slices.

3. Thin-omelet roll

Prepare thin omelet in a rectangular pan. Peel a cucumber and very carefully cut it into one sheet by making a thin incision with a knife the full length of the cucumber and then rotating the cucumber slowly around the blade edge. Wrap a length of burdock pickled in bean paste in the sheet of cucumber. Cut a sheet of toasted lavar into thirds lengthwise. Spread one third on a bamboo rolling mat. Make a layer of carefully picked crab meat on the lavar. Place the cucumber and burdock roll on the lavar and roll in the usual fashion. Spread the rectangular sheet of thin omelet on the rolling mat. On top of this make a layer of 1/2 cup sushi rice. Place the burdock-and-cucumber roll in the center of the rice and roll in the usual fashion. Adjust the shape and cut into serving slices. Multiple rolling of this kind produces a bull's-eye cross section.

Here are suggestions for ways to use what you have on hand in the kitchen in making exciting, delicious, new kinds of nigiri-sushi:

Sauted Fresh Shiitake Mushroom: Remove and discard the stalks. Saute the who caps in oil and flavor them lightly with soysauce. Use one whole for each piece of nigiri-sushi.

Turkey: Wasabi horseradish or Western horseradish goes well with thin slices of roast turkey garnished with a little pickled beet or cranberry jam.

Canned Sardines: Use two sardines for each piece of sushi. Bind them in place with a strip of nori and garnish with sprngs of fresh dill or with thin julienne-cut ginger root.

Watercress: Wash and drain the watercress. Cut off the leafy ends and use the stalks and lower leaves as a topping. Bind them in place with a thin strip of roasted beef.

Green Asparagus: Quickly boiled, drained, and cooled green asparagus makes an excellent sushi topping, especially in combination with shrimp or crab. Bind it in place with a thin strip of nori.

Watercress: Wash and drain the watercress. Cut off the leafy ends and use the stalks and lower leaves as a topping. Bind them in place with a thin strip of roasted beef.

Green Asparagus: Quickly boiled, drained, and cooled green asparagus makes an excellent sushi topping, especially in combination with shrimp or crab. Bind it in place with a thin strip of nori.

 

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