It doesn’t get much simpler than fresh raw fish. Add crisp nori, fresh lettuce leaves, a bowl of sushi rice and a variety of sliced vegetables and you have temaki-sushi: a typical weekday do-it-yourself dinner for many Japanese families. Unlike other Japanese meals, it’s ok to use your hands. In fact, it’s encouraged!
We had our first hand-rolled sushi experience at my student Rei’s house. There were so many slices of various things on the table that we had to take cues from Rei’s daughter, trying to inconspicuously imitate her combinations as the meal unfolded: First, isaki (sea bream), cucumber, shiso leaf (a pungent herb reminiscent of basil). Got it. Next. Hamachi (yellowtail) with slice of sweet omlette. Put a squeeze of wasabi at the side of dish. Don’t mix into soy sauce with chopsticks. Check. Lastly, salmon (pronounced sa-moh-n) and avocado on a lettuce leaf.
We came home and tried it out a few weeks later, adding new combinations: tempura sweet potato, cucumber, avocado.
Tempura prawn, shiso, and cucumber.
And tuna and avocado.
The combinations are endless, really. Each square of nori and leaf of lettuce is a blank canvas awaiting our creativity.
Shiso leaves (photo from gourmet sleuth).
1 cup short grain rice
1 cup water, plus more for rinsing
1 tablespoon sushi vinegar (rice vinegar)
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. salt plus more to taste
- Place the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Mix the rice around in the water with your fingers and then poor out the water. Repeat until the water is clear when poured out, 2-3 times.
- Put rinsed rice and 1 cup of water into a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. When it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for another 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Heat in microwave for about 30-45 seconds.
- When the rice is done, put it into a large wooden or glass bowl. Gradually add the vinegar mixture, folding into the rice with a rice paddle or spatula. Taste and add more salt if needed. Allow to cool before making sushi. Makes about 2 cups – perfect for 2 people.
12 3×5 inch squares of nori (seaweed) and/or large romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried.
A variety of thinly-sliced sushi grade tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and sea bream
Any of the following:
1 large cucumber, cut into 3 inch long sticks
1 avocado, sliced
6 shiso leaves
3 tempura sweet potatoes, sliced into 3 inch long sticks
2 tempura prawns
- Take a square of nori. Place a spoonful of rice in the middle. Top with any combination of fish and veggies.
- Gently pick up both sides of the nori, fold together the best you can, and eat!
- Serve with soy sauce and wasabi in small dishes, but don’t mix together 🙂