Daring Cooks 7th Challenge: 寿司

Sushi rollThe November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge. This was a nice throwback for me. When I first moved to Vancouver 12 years ago, I fell in love with sushi. Not a difficult thing to do in a city that sells it on practically every corner, including the grocery store (with full sushi stations) and gas stations. In fact, the first course I ever took in Vancouver at the VSB was sushi making. I still remember standing in that high school hall, one early Saturday morning, waiting for Ron Suzuki, our instructor, to show up with all his paraphenelia, for my sushi making class. In that one day class, I learned about the ingredients used, the techniques, the history and where to shop for those ingredients. I bought my bamboo mat and made sushi at home a couple of times. But it had been years since I had done it from scratch. With Fujiya a few blocks away, there was no need, really.

Still, I welcomed this challenge to try these recipes. It involved four parts:

Part 1: Making proper sushi rice – you will wash, rinse, drain, soak, cook, dress, and cool short grain rice until each grain is sticky enough to hold toppings or bind ingredients. Then you will use the cooked rice to form three types of sushi:
Part 2: Dragon sushi roll – an avocado covered inside-out rice roll with a tasty surprise filling (broiled eel and japanese cucumber)
Part 3: Decorative sushi – a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut (medley of japanese cucumber, carrots, broccoli, radish sprouts and avocado)
Part 4: Nigiri sushi – hand-shaped rice rolls with toppings (raw and seared tuna and salmon)

Again, thanks to Fujiya, which not only sells fresh sushi, but is also a fully stocked Japanese grocery store, finding all these ingredients was a snap. The recipe for the rice also proved to be perfect. Mind you, my hands were numbingly cold by the time I finished rinsing the rice, but I’m sure it must have contributed to the success of it. 🙂

PART 1 : SUSHI RICE (makes about 7 cups of cooked sushi rice)4094807696_2dc6ef0c94_m

Preparation time: 1¾ hours consisting of :-
Rinsing and draining rice: 35 minutes
Soaking rice: 30 minutes (includes 5 minutes making the vinegar dressing)
Cooking and steaming time: 25 minutes
Finishing the rice: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2½ cups uncooked short grain rice
  • 2½ cups water
  • For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water

Optional Ingredients

  • 3 inch (75mm or 15 grams) square dashi konbu (or kombu) (dried kelp seaweed) wipe with a damp cloth to remove white powder & cut a few slits in the sides of the kelp to help release its flavours
  • 2½ teaspoons (12.5 mls) of sake (Japanese rice wine)

Sushi vinegar dressing

  • 5 Tablespoons (75 mls) rice vinegar
  • 5 Teaspoons (25 mls or 21 grams) sugar
  • 1¼ Teaspoons (6.25 mls or 4.5 grams) salt

DIRECTIONS:
Rinsing and draining the rice

  1. Swirl rice gently in a bowl of water, drain, repeat 3-4 times until water is nearly clear. Don’t crush the rice in your hands or against the side of the bowl since dry rice is very brittle.
  2. Gently place rice into a strainer and drain well for 30 minutes.

4094043915_13c291c919_mSoaking the rice

  1. Gently place the rice into a heavy medium pot with a tight fitting lid (if you have a loose fitting lid use a piece of aluminium foil to make the seal tight).
  2. Add 2½ cups of water and the dashi konbu.
  3. Set the rice aside to soak for 30 minutes, during this time prepare the sushi rice dressing.

Preparing the Rice Vinegar Dressing

  1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Heat on low setting.
  3. Stir until the mixture goes clear and the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  4. Set aside at room temperature until the rice is cooked.

Cooking the rice

  1. After 30 minutes of soaking add sake (if using) to the rice.
  2. Bring rinsed and soaked rice to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until all the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this process. Turn off heat.
  4. Let stand with the lid on, 10-15 minutes. Do not peek inside the pot or remove the lid. During this time the rice is steaming which completes the cooking process.

Finishing the rice

  • Turning out the rice4094045059_8b4aeca39b_m

 

  1. Moisten lightly a flat thin wooden spatula or spoon and a large shallow flat-bottomed non-metallic (plastic, glass or wood) bowl. Do not use metallic objects since the vinegar will react with it and produce sour and bitter sushi rice.
  2. Remove the dashi konbu (kelp) from the cooked rice.
  3. Use the spatula to loosen gently the rice and invert the rice pot over the bowl, gently causing the cooked rice to fall into the bowl in one central heap. Do this gently so as not to cause the rice grains to become damaged.

  • Dressing the rice with vinegar

 

  1. Slowly pour the cooled sushi vinegar over the spatula onto the hot rice.
  2. Using the spatula gently spread the rice into a thin, even layer using a 45° cutting action to break up any lumps and to separate the rice. Don’t stir or mash rice.
  3. After the rice is spread out, start turning it over gently, in small portions, using a cutting action, allowing steam to escape, for about a minute.

  • Fanning & Tossing the rice

 

  1. Continue turning over the rice, but now start fanning (using a piece of stiff cardboard) the rice vigorously as you do so. Don’t flip the rice into the air but continue to gently slice, lift and turn the rice occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cooling the rice using a fan gives good flavour, texture and a high-gloss sheen to the rice. The vinegar dressing will be absorbed by the hot rice. Using a small electric fan on the lowest speed setting is highly recommended.
  2. Stop fanning when there’s no more visible steam, and all the vinegar dressing has been adsorbed and the rice is shiny. Your sushi rice is ready to be used.

  • Keeping the rice moist

 

  1. Cover with a damp, lint free cloth to prevent the rice from drying out while preparing your sushi meal. Do not store sushi rice in the refrigerator leave on the counter covered at room temperature. Sushi rice is best used when it is at room temperature.

4094046691_94eddf6dc9_m* Tip: To make sushi rice: for each cup of rice use 1 cup of water, 2 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp sake. For superior results use equal volumes of rice and water when cooking the sushi rice since the weight of rice can vary. Weight of 2½ cups of uncooked rice is about 525 grams or 18½ ounces.

Though I was shocked to see the amount of rice it produced, I was equally shocked to see we nearly used all of it for these recipes. Hun and I dined well that evening, the meal finished with November’s Daring Bakers Challenge (come back on November 27th for the reveal). The bonus was that this was the first Daring Cooks Challenge we didn’t have to worry about our dinner getting cold while we took pictures of it. 🙂

Snaps, courtesy of Hun (while I dealt with sticky, rice-covered fingers, building the various rolls. 🙂 )

 

 

 

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