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To make up for my lack of regular posting, I spent a good few hours this afternoon chronicling my sushi-making process. Then I ate them. Now I'm posting about them. Here we go!

Sushi is a very flexible dish. There are some standard fillings, and then you mix and match them however you want. That's part of why I love sushi so much; it does a good job of cleaning vegetables out of my fridge.

First, cook some sushi rice according to your preference. I use a rice maker and all is well. After your rice is done cooking (it should be sticky, not the kind of rice you'd like to pour your curry on), stir in rice vinegar and sugar, then cover--so it doesn't dry out--and cool.

Sushi's also one of those recipes where you really do want to have laid all your ingredients out infront of you, ready to go. As much as I try, I rarely have all my ingredients measured, chopped, or laid out when I begin baking or cooking. With sushi, however, that's different. Gather and prepare all your fillings ahead of time. Here's mine:

(Note: All the colors in this post are going to be crazy because it's splotchy cloudy outside, so sometimes I had natural light and sometimes I didn't.)

You can see my lovely orange knife in the above photo. I bought it at the grocery store in town. That sounds like a recipe for a terrible knife, but I love my bright orange knife.

I included: cucumber, carrot, egg, smoked salmon, avocado and cream cheese. You don't see the cream cheese in that photo above because cream cheese looks ugly if you try to cut it into strips--or, at least, if I try to cut it into strips.  But you can see it here:

To prepare the egg as shown above, just cook two eggs like one would cook an omlette--but without any cream or fillings (more precise directions below.) Then it'll look like this:

Then you'll put it on a paper towel to cool, like this:

After it's cool, you'll cut it into a square by cutting off the corners, like so:

and then cut into strips, like this:

The salmon is sliced just as you think salmon would be sliced, but I want to show you a couple photos of my smoked salmon, because I think it's pretty. Just a note, you want to make sure you're using a sharp knife to cut your salmon, otherwise it tends to crumble along the natural boundaries (those little whitish lines you see). Now that I've said that, I can justify showing you my pretty salmon pictures:

See those white lines I was talking about? See how my first couple slices sort of crumbled at the bottom? That's when I switched to my sharper knife, and all was good:

The carrots are sliced just as one would normally slice carrots. The cucumber is sliced, discarding the watery seedy insides. Avocado is sliced as one normally slices avocado. I tossed by avocado with some lemon juice so that it wouldn't brown as it was waiting to become a vital component of my sushi rolls. The cream cheese is most easily sliced if you've chilled it in the freezer for a couple (10) minutes first; it lets it firm up.

Now that all your fillings are ready, comes the trickier (but completely possible and not-actually-all-that-hard!) part: rolling. You need a rolling mat, which looks like this: 

If you don't have one and can't get one before you absolutely need to make sushi (which should be after you've finished reading this post), you could try seran wrap or wax paper, but a rolling mat makes everything so much easier. 

Assemble everything you need, right now before you begin. In addition to your seaweed, rice and fillings you will also need a little cup of water with some vinegar in it. This is important, and we'll get to why you need it in a bit. You'll also want a pastry brush. So, with everything assembled:

Brush a little bit of the vinegar/water onto the seaweed; this'll soften it up--otherwise, it will crack and splinter when you try to roll it. You don't need much, because the rice is (or should be) damp. Then, spoon some rice onto the seaweed, onto the bottom center. 

Now, you desperately need to dip your fingers in the vinegar/water mixture, otherwise you'll be imminently covered in sushi rice, and then you'll be sad. So, with your vinegar/water-covered fingers, smooth out the rice across the sushi, leaving 1"-1.5" of uncovered seaweed at the top, like so:

Now, you want to assemble whatever fillings you want in your sushi and place them horizontally about two inches above the bottom. I belong to the "more fillings = better sushi" school of thought, so I slice my fillings thick and use a lot of them.

That said, these were more filings than I usually use, but it was delicious. This roll includes: carrot, cucumber, avocado, salmon and cream cheese. 

Now, you have to roll the seaweed. I tried valiently, but armed with my six year old, point-and-click camera and nobody to help me, I could not photograph the rolling process. Essentially, you want to roll the sushi using the rolling mat. You roll it all up over the fillings first and then just keep going, tidying and squeezing as you go, until you read the uncovered seaweed at the top. Then wet the seaweed a little with your pastry brush and water, and wrap the whole thing up. For photo instructions, the last image on this page: http://makemysushi.com/index.php/How-to-make-sushi/classic-roll.html has a nice little animation. Click on the image to start the animation. 

That's the trickiest part, so don't feel bad if you takes you a couple rolls to get a nice looking one. 

At this point I like to let the roll sit for a little bit with the seaweed flap down. It lets everything sit and stick together. Then, right before I'm ready to serve the sushi, I cut it.

The single most important thing about slicing sushi is that you use a very, very sharp knife. Otherwise, you squish the whole roll. I use my sharpest knife, and then usually sharpen it a little more before I cut the sushi. 

I have found gentle, back-and-forth slicing with a santoku knife to be the easiest way to slice sushi cleanly. 

Now, see in this picture how dirty my knife is already? It's really dirty, mostly from the cream cheese in this roll.

A dirty knife like this sticks to the sushi as you're cutting it, so I frequently clean my knife as I go, being careful to dry it well, lest it sticks despite having washed it. 

The ends will always be a bit messy. This is a fact of life. Some fancy schmancy sushi chefs make their ends look all nice, but I'm convinced it's just to make me feel bad about myself. I accept that my ends will always be messy, but J will always happily eat them, destroying the evidence. 

That's it. Wonderful sushi. 

Now, if you're me and the smell alone of seaweed makes you convulse--or wish you were convulsing--there is hope! These wonderful soy wrappers wrap sushi wonderfully, and produce excellent, seaweed-free sushi.

I understand some will say this is sacrilege, but I disagree. This is beautiful.

And colorful, too! The wrappers are flavored, but not very strongly. I can't really taste the flavorings in sushi, so you may want to be sure to put in flavorful fillings when using these. 

Since I'm also not a huge fish fan, I resort to using lots and lots of wasabi mixed in with my soy sauce when I eat these. Not just more-than-normal levels of wasabi. I'm a spice-fiend. My soy sauce is a paste after I've added my wasabi. Here, I'll show you:

Hmm, that is hopefully the worst photo I'll ever put on this blog. But you see what I mean? That pastey olivey greeny soy sauce is delicious. And most of the reason that I eat sushi. Yum. 

Now for the more concise recipe. 


2 Sheets of nori (dried seaweed)
1.75-2 cups cooked sushi rice 
4 tbspn rice vinegar, separated
2 tspn granulated sugar
1/3 cup water

1 carrot, peeled and cut into strips
1 cucumber, peeled with watery/seedy center removed, cut into strips 
4 tbspn cream cheese, cut into strips
1 oz salmon, cut into strips
1/3 medium avocado, cut into strips and tossed with lemon juice
2 eggs, cooked like an omlette, cooled and cut into strips 
(note: feel free to swap out or include any fillings you want. Cavier, crab, etc. If you use raw fish, I'm not responsible if you die.) 
Required Items
rolling mat 

sharp knife 
pastry brush

1.) Mix sushi rice with 2tbspn vinegar and sugar. Set aside. 

2.) In a small container, combine water and remaining vinegar. Set aside. 

3.) Lay seaweed on the rolling mat. Using a pastry brush, moisten the seaweed with the water/vinegar mixture. Be sure not to get the seaweed too wet; the rice will be damp and moisten the seaweed further later. 

4.) Spoon half of rice onto bottom center of seaweed. Moisten hands with water/vinegar mixture to prevent sticking. Smooth rice out on seaweed, leaving 1"-1.5" free at the top. 

5.) Arrange desired fillings horizontally about 2" above the bottom of the seaweed. Using the rolling mat, roll sushi. 

6.) Let sushi roll sit for 5-10 minutes, allowing the seaweed to seal and adhere to itself.

7.) Using a sharp knife, slice the roll into individual pieces of sushi. A gentle, back-and-forth motion works well. Clean the knife as necessary to prevent sticking. 

8.) Serve.  


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