Saturday, October 3, 2009

Love and Sushi

Disclaimer: This is not really a recipe for sushi, more like the process I use. If anyone is interested, I can post this as a recipe in the cooking section. Just let me know.

I love sushi for many reasons. One is that it reminds me of Dad. He learned how to make sushi from a Japanese Chef when I was around 7-8 years old. He made it for many special occasions and it was always an impressive and beautiful presentation. He made sushi when it was not "in" and many people had no idea what I was talking about when I told them I had sushi for dinner.

But the reason I really love sushi is because it reminds me of my husband. We met in Japan. I had just graduated high school and he had only been in the Air Force for 2 years. I was living at Yokota, he was stationed at Okinawa but was TDY to Yokota for just a little while. Very soon after we met we knew, we wanted to get married. I know it sounds corny, but I just knew he was the only one I would spend the rest of my life with. We were deeply connected from the beginning. Everything went very fast. So fast that everyone said our marriage would not last. We were engaged after two weeks and married after 6 months. Statistically, they should have been right. We were young and had everything going against us. After we became engaged, he had to go back to the island and I did not see him for 6 months. During that separation, I moved to Arkansas to wait for him to come home so we could get married. He came home for one month, during which time we were married, spent a short amount of time together, and he went back to Okinawa to finish his overseas tour....for 9 more months. So, that is 6 weeks out of the first 15 months we actually spent time together. Our phone bills were ridiculous. Well, it is 14 years later and I am crazier about him than I have ever been. He is my best friend and the most wonderful man. I am lucky to have him. We have a lot of fond memories of Japan and plan to go back for one of our anniversaries.

The reason I made sushi tonight was because my children are studying about ancient Japan in school right now. I have been trying to make cuisine from each country we are studying. This was just a very simple sushi dinner. Just to give the kids an idea. It would have taken me at least 3/4 of a whole day to make a proper Japanese dinner. I'm sure my dad is looking at my pictures thinking "Oh, no, what did she do?" Sorry, Dad. I promise to make a proper meal soon. Or, maybe I can convince him to come visit and make it for me. Yes, that sounds so much better. Then, I could sit on the couch and eat chocolate and read a book.

Can I just say, there is a difference between Sushi and Sashimi? Well, there is. Anytime I say the word sushi, people say, "Oh, yuck! I could never eat raw fish." Well, Sushi may or may not have raw fish. Here is the definition of :


Cold cooked rice dressed with vinegar that is shaped into bite-sized pieces and topped with raw or cooked fish, or formed into a roll with fish, egg, or vegetables and wrapped in seaweed.


A Japanese dish consisting of very thin bite-size slices of fresh raw fish, traditionally served with soy sauce and wasabi.

So, you see, sushi may or may not have raw fish but sashimi is all raw fish. Get it?

For the record, I love Sashimi too.

Here is the cast of characters. Oooh, did you hear that? I sound like PW. That makes me imagine I have lots of cattle, horses and cowboys running around my property. And, a fancy lodge with lots of friends and a huge gourmet kitchen with a fully stocked pantry. Hmmm. I think I will get Lee some Chaps. Yes, that will do nicely. I don't need the rest of that stuff. Just him in some wranglers and chaps.

Sorry, I get a little carried away.....To make my very simplified version of sushi I just cut up some veggies into thin strips. I had red and yellow bell peppers, avocado, cucumber (seedless is best), green onion and shrimp. I bought a few packs of roasted seaweed, Wasabi paste, pickled ginger and soy sauce. Do yourself a favor and go around for a whole day saying Wahsawbeee (wasabi) it is fun and will thoroughly confuse those around you.

Japanese writing is beautiful. There is a whole art form using different forms of Asian writing called Sumi-e. It is beautiful. This also reminds me of people who get tattoos of their name in Kanji. You know the tattoo artist is like, this guy wants his name in Kanji on his arm but I am really going to write fish head or kick me instead. It will be hilarious and he will never know. Wash your veggies and then cut them in super-thin strips.

I cut off the ends of the peppers and cucumbers, dice them and make a vinegary salad out of them. You can throw in onion, octopus, shrimp etc.. in there as well.
Just dice it all up, add a few tablespoons of rice vinegar and a few tablespoons of sugar. Less if you don't like it very sweet. Let it sit for 30 minutes, drain the liquid and serve.

This is a bamboo mat used to make the sushi rolls.
Place your seaweed, shiny side down on the mat.
Add a layer of sticky rice on the edge closest to you.

Add whatever combination of veggies/seafood that tickles your fancy. The next part, I forgot this time because it has been so long since I have made sushi. You need to add another thin layer of rice on top of the veggies. That is why mine came out kind of lopsided with the veggies on one side and rice on the other.

Then, roll up the mat 1/4 turn at a time pulling the roll back toward you and squeezing the roll gently to firm up the roll.

When you are almost to the end of the roll, dab your finger in a little water and spread it across the end of the roll to "glue" the end to the roll. This will ensure your roll stays put and does not fall out all over the floor. The roll should be nice and tight, like this.

Continue to fill with whatever fillings you like and roll until your hearts content.

Once you have all your rolls done, you need to cut each roll into about 1-2 inch slices. You will need a very sharp knife and every other cut or so you'll need to wipe the knife with a cloth that is damp with a little warm water. This will prevent the sticky rice from sticking to your knife, making it impossible to cut.
Before you know it, you have a colorful platter of sushi rolls.

Um, no son, we do not stab and mutilate the sushi. Even if it looks like it would be a lot of fun.
He is doing a pretty good job learning how to use the chopsticks. And, yes, he does often eat w/o his shirt off. In fact, it is hard to keep clothes on the boy. Remember when I said the boys often run around in their underwear? What can I say? We moved from Alaska to Alabama. The boy is hot.

Lex is doing a pretty good job too.

The youngest boy, not so much. He stabbed, poked and flung his way around at first.
Then I modified his chopsticks to help him out a bit.

I wrapped a rubber band around the end of the chopsticks and then placed a folded piece of paper just under the rubber band between the chopsticks. This makes chopstick tweezers that make it super easy to learn to use them. All they have to do is hold the chopsticks in their hand and pinch their food.
Like this.
Success! His confidence level went up about a bazillion points.
So much so that he had to stare at his reflection in the mirror while he was eating and would not look at me so that I could get a decent picture.

Um, son? Hello? Look at me.
The kids had fun eating sushi, listening to their Mom get mushy about their Dad, and figuring out how to eat with chopsticks without flinging food across the room. You'll have to excuse me now, I need to go start planning an elaborate trip to Japan which won't take place for 11 more years.

1 comment:

corefoundations said...

I'm of Japanese descent and can't stand sushi. (My brother likes it though. . .) There are other Japanese dishes I much prefer.

But, I was engaged to my husband six weeks after we started dating, and married 2 weeks after that. We are at 19+ years.