Americanized no-raw-fish sushi

This is another of those posts that’s based on the fact that I was already typing it up anyway. Because it’s really hard to try to explain how to make sushi over the phone! So here we go.

But first a disclaimer…. this is a totally americanized version and should under no circumstances be considered authentic. LOL So I don’t wanna hear about how off it is.

First off…

Rice

You will need to find sushi rice. This is smaller than the usual run of the mill rice grains, and sticks together right.

At least around here, this isn’t usually by the other types of rice, it will be over by the chow mein noodles and soy sauce. It usually says sushi rice on the bag somewhere, but it may be like this brand and have it over in a corner and not as the main writing. Usually there are 2 or 3 options.

Measure one cup of dry rice. (This will seem like way way too little… but trust me… it’s enough)

Rinse it very well… until the water runs clear and stops looking murky when you stir the rice around. This will take longer than you think it will to happen.

Let the rice soak covered in water for half an hour.

After soaking, drain the water, and move the wet rice to a small saucepan. Add 1 cup of water.

Place the pan over medium heat until it starts to boil, stirring as little as possible so you don’t stir up more of the murky stuff.

When it starts boiling, put a lid on the pan and drop the heat to low for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, without removing the lid, move pan off of heat to sit for another 15 minutes.

While the rice is doing its thing, you can prepare the vinegar mixture.

For this, you need rice vinegar. Depending on which store, some will keep it right next to the soy sauce, but most of them around here will have it over near the salad dressings.

There’s a ton of different measurements people use for this… but I go with 1/4 cup rice vinegar with 2 tablespoons of sugar added. (Some add salt, I don’t… doesn’t really need it)

You want to dissolve the sugar entirely in the vinegar. This is a lot easier if you heat it a little, 15 seconds in the microwave works ok, but you want to be sure to give it time to cool back to room temp before the rice is done. (And if you heat it, it may make your kitchen smell like vinegar.. which always reminds me of coloring easter eggs.. lol)

When the time is up on the rice, dump it out of the pan (it won’t need drained) into a fairly large container so that the rice won’t be very deep across the bottom when spread out. I’m just using a random square plastic container from the cupboard here, but a cake pan works well.

It should already be sticky… as you can see by the pan shape it’s staying in here.

Tap the rice a bit gently with a rice paddle or spatula just enough to get it to spread out a bit, then drizzle it with the vinegar mixture.

This will make it stop being as sticky and feel sort of wet.

You don’t want to stir the rice to mix it in… because it will make them break up and be mushy and messy. Instead, you want to take sections with the paddle or spatula and flip them over onto other areas.. and/or repeatedly draw slow and gentle lines through the rice in one direction then the other.

See my pretty lines? LOL

Once it’s well mixed, you want to let it sit and cool to room temp, and until it feels dry again. But don’t put it in the fridge, just let it sit out to cool. Some recipes say to fan the rice.. more power to you if you feel like going to that effort! LOL

If you need to take a break in the process to break it up into different sections, this is the place to take it.

Meanwhile….

Filling

As I said, this is an americanized version.

I have no problems with raw fish being used in restaurant sushi I eat, but I’m just not about to try that one at home.

In this case, I’m using imitation crab, which is fully cooked fish. Philly rolls usually tend to use smoked salmon. If you like tuna, tuna from a can works better than the stuff from a packet because it tends to be in larger chunks.

The packets of different flavored filets of salmon and other fish (near the canned tuna) usually work pretty well too, but some of the flavors can be a bit different.

And.. well… we’ve actually even used leftover cooked chicken at times. (Yes, I really meant that disclaimer lol) Whatever works!

Veggies can be pretty much whatever, but you want to keep it pretty small and either compact or able to be pressed compact (like sprouts). So I’d probably eliminate things like cauliflower. Pictured above is cucumber, green onion, and avocado.

For most things, you can do a lot of the slicing while the rice is cooking, then put back into the fridge until ready to roll.

For slicing various things for filling, you generally want to make strips smaller than 1/2 an inch wide…. the smaller the better.

Cutting these strips into smaller pieces about 2 or 3 inches long tends to make the rolling process a bit easier, as it lets them move around a bit more.

For cucumbers, they seem to work best if you cut them in half lengthwise, then each of the halves into 4 slices.

Then run a knife carefully along the edge of the peel to remove it from your finished strip.

Philly rolls usually use cream cheese… but we tend to use it with anything that has imitation crab too, as it works well together.

When slicing cream cheese, first cut through the entire block to make two thinner halves, then proceed with the slicing on each half. It also helps a lot to slice it straight out of the fridge, and put it right back into the fridge until it’s ready to be used.

 

Rolling

Before I start rolling, I usually go ahead and split my piles of each filling type into half, so that then it’s easier to use half of each pile on each roll (This will be making 4 rolls)

You will need a package of nori… which is sometimes labeled nori and sometimes labeled roasted seaweed. It’s usually by the chow mein noodles and soy sauce.

It’s basically dark green sheets that feel almost like a stiff tissue paper. (It doesn’t really have too much taste in the sushi, but if you try and eat it alone it’s not the greatest… so I don’t recommend sampling it before you use it)

You will need 4 pieces, but will want to make sure they are in good condition, as sometimes some will have rips and tear that will make the process harder. Packages usually have about 12 or so in them.

Recommended but maybe not required is a bamboo rolling mat. This supports the nori while you roll so that it doesn’t rip. The one I’m using here came in a set with the rice paddle used above for about $7 at bed bath and beyond. (If you are looking for them there though, they were with the chopsticks, over by the woks in the pan section, not in the small kitchen gadget section where you would expect them).

Other kitchen stuff like silicone mats or even parchment paper or wax paper might work ok too if you don’t want to go for the mat.

Lay one of the sheets of nori on the mat, with the shiny side facing up.

Put the edge of the nori closest to you against the edge of the mat.

Add 1/4 of the rice, and tap the rice with the edge of the paddle to spread around.

You want to keep it about an inch away from the far edge, and about 1/2 an inch or a little less away from the other edges. If you get it too close to the near edge it will be harder to start rolling, too close to the sides and it may spill out when you roll.

Yes, I know… it still looks like I’m crazy and this is way too little… it’ll work out.

When you are done spreading, it will look like this… and still look like there’s a lot of gaps and too little rice. Here is where we fix that.

Wet either your hands or the back of the paddle, and press/tap down on the rice gently to level it and pack it down.

So that now it looks like this. And suddenly looks like maybe it’s enough rice after all!

(If you happen to want a roll that’s more rice heavy, add less filling instead of more rice. More rice makes things harder to work with)

If you want a california style roll that has the rice on the outside, you will spread the rice close to the edges, then before patting down you can sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Then place a piece of plastic wrap over the nori, and flip it upside down. The rest of the instructions happen the same, just on the opposite side.

And now we are ready to start adding the filling.

You want to line the filling up along the edge closest to you, largest pieces on the bottom, smaller pieces on top of those.

If you are going for more traditional sushi, you generally want to keep this filling section really small, maybe two inches wide, so that it gets to roll more.

For americanized rolls…. well… as long as you’ve got less than about half of the rice covered, you’ll be ok. The rice just needs to come somewhat close to meeting itself on the other side.

And so now we start rolling.

Lift the edge of the mat nearest you, while holding the filling down against it a bit.

Essentially what you want to do at this point is flip the filling area over while squeezing the filling gently to compress it.

Once you’ve flipped it over, squeeze the roll together a bit more firmly as you continue to roll.

When you get to where the roll is starting to overlap, roll the mat back upwards away from the  nori so that you can continue.

When it’s completely rolled up, give it a firm but gentle squeeze.

Then, unroll it just a bit to expose the area of nori that was left without rice at the end.

Get your finger wet, and run it along this nori to get it a bit wet, then press it back against the roll so that it will seal to the back of the other part of the nori.

You can now unwrap your roll from the mat (and plastic wrap if you went for rice on the outside).

The ends of the fillings will be somewhat uneven and closer to the edge, or even out of the edge if you got too close when placing or squeezed too hard.

Repeat the process for the other 3 rolls. If you aren’t going to use some of them immediately, you can wrap them in plastic wrap and keep them unsliced in the fridge if you want at this point.

We usually just slice them all anyway and cover the pieces. The nori does sometimes get a bit of an odd stretchy texture if stored though, so it’s usually better to make them right before eating them.

To slice, you will want the sharpest knife you have around so that it won’t smoosh things and make them fall apart. You will also want to get the knife wet between every slice or two because the rice that gets on it will make it stick a bit.

Place the roll with the seam where the nori ended on the bottom.

If you look at your rolls, it’s usually pretty clear to see where the roll is firmly packed and the nori is smooth, and where the edges start and the nori doesn’t look as stretched. Move just a bit in from this line, and slice off each edge. The edges still taste fine, they just are uneven and not packed as firmly, so they fall apart a lot easier and don’t look as pretty. (Around here, the edges get eaten as a sort of appetizer… lol)

From there, slice the roll into half.

Each half can then be sliced into 2 or 3 pieces. 6 pieces per roll is more of a standard size like you’d likely be used to, but the larger pieces made by 4 stay together easier.

For supporting the nori, you want to keep your fingers as close to the cut as you safely can, or even over the top of the cut once the top of the knife is low enough.

Try to keep the pressure on the knife firm but gentle… and if it hits a rougher patch, use back and forth motion, not just forcing it down harder.

If you are going to stack the sliced pieces on top of each other, try to make sure the entire piece is well supported by the rolls under it. Trying to make a pyramid with spaces under each slice is probably going to make them fall apart.

And there you have americanized sushi rolls. 🙂

(If you aren’t used to sushi, this may not look like a lot… but with the rice and the size of these, these are filling… it doesn’t take much.)

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