I’ve gotten really addicted to sushi this year. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “god damn, Weasel. That’s really homosexual.” Well, no it isn’t, so shut up.
Actually, not so much sushi. California roll. It was invented for Americans who are too pussy to eat raw fish. California roll is made out of vegetables and cooked fish. Now, sushi is expensive because, if you’re going to eat raw fish, you want it to be reeeeally really fresh. California roll is expensive because it’s called sushi and they can get away with it. When I realized I was paying nearly a buck for a gobbet of rice with a cucumber stuck in it, I resolved to make my own.
I’ve got the mechanics right, I think. You start with sushi rice (aka sweet rice, aka glutenous rice, aka sticky rice). It’s a short-grained rice that is neither sweet nor glutenous, but it is sticky — which is why you can build stuff out of it. Twenty minutes simmering with the lid on, ten minutes resting, then you sprinkle it with a mixture of rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt…cutting it in with a bamboo paddle and fanning it to cool it off rapidly. This gives the rice a nice flavor and a glossy sheen. (No, this is not homosexual. Shut up!).
Okay, now you lay out a sheet of nori on a bamboo mat. The package says that nori is “a sea vegetable,” which is true if algae mashed up and dried like paper is your idea of a vegetable. They used to make it off stuff they scraped off the docks, no lie. It smells like they still do.
Spread a layer of rice on the nori, lay down a line of cut up veg and fish or whatever about an inch from the edge, grab the bamboo, roll it up into a long tube, cut it into sections, and voilà — you have a big fucked-up pile of rice and algae and crabmeat and avocado.
Okay, class, what do we do when we discover something we don’t understand? That’s right, Suzie — we kill it and cut it up. Meet an alien, have yourself an alien autopsy.
Here is some California roll I bought at the supermarket today. The one on the left is crabmeat, I think. The one on the right is called “inside out” sushi (uramaki) because the rice is on the outside. I like that kind best, because you aren’t laying a slab of that black glossy ocean fungus right on your tongue. Inside this one is…salmon nipples or diced whale penis or something. I don’t know.
Hm. Nothing much to be derived from this. My rice is about this thickness, I reckon. Incidentally, this is a pica ruler. The pica is (was) used by publication designers and typesetters. It’s an excellent unit of measurement for things that are small but not microscopic. There are six picas to an inch, and 12 points to a pica (yes, points as in type sizes). Once upon a time, in happier days, many professions used custom units of measurement well suited to their work, but this is no longer allowed. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of Europe-humping metric weenies.
Ahhhhh…now we’re getting somewhere. See this? Yes, yes…it looks like something vile from an actual autopsy, but check the measurements. The norimaki unrolled is about six inches, the uramaki about five (you need the extra length when the nori’s on the outside so it can wrap around and stick to itself). A sheet of nori from the store is eight inches square.
Well, that explains it. A whole sheet is three inches too much, half a sheet is one inch too little. I’m going to have to cut a few inches off each one and toss it. Bastards!
Once again, technology triumphs over little yellow people.
Yes, that does it. Not perfect, perhaps, but a respectable effort for a beginner. The blob of gup on the plate is wasabi (Japanese for, “I kick your ass, Johnny Roundeye!”), the shredded stuff is pickled ginger (for cleansing the palate between different flavors), the thing in the dish is soy sauce.
Okay, this right here is pretty homosexual.