If you’re not already making sushi at home, you’re missing out on a delectable and incredibly diet-friendly meal option. Sushi is not only easy to prepare and nutritious but can also be enjoyed without raw fish, making it a versatile choice for everyone.
For those unfamiliar with sushi, let’s begin with a brief overview. Sushi is a term that encompasses various Japanese dishes. The word “sushi” actually refers to rice seasoned with rice vinegar. While the rice forms the base, it’s the additional ingredients that define the specific dish you’re enjoying. While raw fish, known as sashimi, is a common sushi ingredient, you can create sushi with almost any ingredient that pairs well with rice.
In the United States, the most popular type of sushi is Maki-sushi, or rice wrapped in seaweed (nori). The seaweed forms the green outer layer seen on sushi rolls. You may find them labeled as “nori rolls” on menus. Nigiri-sushi is another well-known style, consisting of small bars of rice topped with wasabi and sashimi.
Incorporating sushi into a healthy diet is easy. Consider the ingredients: rice, vegetables, and fish. These components contribute to a low-calorie and low-fat meal. As long as you moderate your rice portions, sushi can be a healthy choice. It’s worth noting that the Japanese, who frequently enjoy sushi, boast longer average lifespans than some other countries known for less nutritious snack options.
Let’s explore how to make a California roll, which is currently one of the most popular types of nori rolls in America. You’ll need the following ingredients, all readily available in the oriental foods section of your local supermarket or Asian market:
- Bamboo rolling mat
- Sushi rice (short or medium grain)
- Nori (roasted seaweed sheets)
- Rice vinegar
- Imitation crab meat
- Soy sauce
Prepare the rice according to the package instructions. Generally, you’ll need about 3/4 cup of cooked rice per sushi roll. Most people will feel satisfied after consuming one or two rolls.
In a small pan, combine a tablespoon of vinegar and 1/3 tablespoon each of sugar and salt for every 3/4 cup of rice you’re cooking. Briefly heat the mixture and stir until the sugar dissolves. While the rice is cooking, start cutting your vegetables. Peel and slice the cucumber into thin, long strips, approximately 1/4 inch thick. Do the same for the avocado. If you’re using powdered wasabi, prepare it by mixing small amounts of water until you achieve a thick paste.
Once the rice is cooked, remove it from heat and gradually fold in the vinegar mixture. Transfer the rice to a foil-lined sheet or baking tray, allowing it to cool. Traditionally, this process involves fanning the rice while gently stirring it. The rice should be slightly moist and sticky but not overly wet or mushy. Perfecting the rice texture may require some practice, but you’ll soon discover what works best.
Once the vinegared rice has cooled, it’s time to assemble your rolls. Place the bamboo rolling mat horizontally in front of you, ensuring the bamboo sticks run from left to right. Lay a sheet of nori on the mat. Spread a layer of rice on the nori, covering about 3/4 of its surface. The uncovered portion of the nori will help seal the roll, similar to a glue strip on an envelope.
Next, add a strip of avocado, followed by a strip of cucumber and crab meat. Dampen the uncovered nori section with cold water using your fingertips. Carefully roll the sushi using the mat, starting from the rice side and rolling it up. Avoid rolling the mat into the sushi. Although this process may sound complex, it’s as simple as rolling a sleeping bag or beach towel. Once you have the ingredients in front of you, the technique will become apparent.
After rolling, cut the sushi into bite-sized pieces, typically yielding six slices per roll. If you encounter difficulties cutting without damaging the roll, try dipping your knife into water between each cut. Arrange the slices flat, and they will resemble colorful discs. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce on the side.
If you’re feeling adventurous and wish to explore sashimi, keep these safety tips in mind. While millions of people consume raw fish daily without issues, it’s important to note that freshness plays a significant role. Coastal regions often have access to freshly caught fish, while landlocked areas may not. Look for fish specifically labeled as sushi-grade and opt for saltwater fish, except for salmon, which spends much of its life at sea. When buying whole fish, check for bright red gills (not slimy), transparent eyes (not cloudy), and no strong fish odor.
Embrace the wholesome and nutritious delight of sushi today. While it may take a few attempts to perfect the rice and rolling technique, with practice, you’ll be able to effortlessly prepare a variety of nori rolls in just minutes.