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Sunday, June 25, 2006

In the Kitchen: Sushi Spectacular

prawn nigiri
Nigiri with prawns and kingfish sashimi

The last time we made sushi was in January 2005. I know this because that's the last time I blogged about it. Who said foodblogging didn't come in handy? =)

It was a long time between sushi rolls, which necessitated an even greater leap to bigger and better creations. As always, my kitchen partner-in-crime was the ever-resourceful and gastronomically energetic Veruca Salt. She did much of the initial legwork for our sushi preparations, doing much of the ingredient shopping and heading to the fish markets earlier that morning.

Making sushi isn't particularly difficult, but it's definitely messy, and rice-covered fingers do not mix well with digital camera. Here are a couple of pics from our sushi journey of sumo-sized proportions:

skewered prawns
Skewered prawns

We skewered raw prawns before boiling them until cooked in hot water. The skewering is essential to ensure they are cooked straight for use atop rice pillows of nigiri.

cooked prawns
Cooked prawns being chilled

Once cooked, the prawns are immediately placed in chilled water with plenty of ice cubes. This cools them quickly so they remain straight, and prevents them cooking any further.

Tamago nigiri

I finally used the tamago pan I purchased in Japan and made my first-ever attempt at tamago. It turned out fairly well and I've posting a separate brief entry on how to make tamago for those who are curious.

Prawn nigiri, kingfish nigiri and salmon nigiri

After five hours of intensive prep and frantic rolling, our final Sushi Spectacular menu included:

  • sashimi of salmon and kingfish;
  • nigiri topped with prawns, salmon, kingfish, tamago and seafood extender;
  • deep-fried crispy salmon skin;
  • hoso-maki sushi with kingfish, kampyo, and salmon and avocado;
  • inside-out kawara-maki California rolls coated in tobiko (flying fish roe);
  • maki sushi with teriyaki chicken and avocado, tuna and avocado, and salmon skin and takuan (pickled daikon);
  • omusubi with tuna, mayonnaise and finely diced red onion rolled in seaweed furikake;
  • and side dishes of shredded carrot and white radish, takuan pickles and gari pickled ginger.

We had more stuff planned but ran out of time (and stomach)... we had a whole bag of inari pockets we didn't even get to open!

Admittedly we are far from being sushi masters, but here are a couple of tips and tricks we like to employ in our sushi-making endeavours:

  • Use the freshest fish you can find. We always get ours from the fish markets that day;
  • Veruca always gets her salmon from Claudio's at the fish markets, who will kindly skin and fillet your whole salmon if you ask nicely. This is way cheaper than buying sashimi grade salmon, as you can easily use your sashimi "scraps" to make salmon sushi. Make sure you ask to keep both the skin (fry it up like the Japanese do) and the fish head (great simply pan-fried or use for a tasty soup or stock);
  • Investigate the nifty sushi moulds you can buy from select Asian grocers. These plastic moulds with flip-out tabs enable you to make speedy nigiri or compressed rice in the shape of stars, circles, logs or even Hello Kitty faces. Thai Kee in Market City, Chinatown, have a small selection;
  • Be stingy with the rice and super generous with the filling. Rice is far too filling to eat much of it, and half the fun of home-made is the utter decadence of the good stuff.

I've previously written tips on how to roll sushi here. To make inside out rolls, simply pat rice down on your nori, then cover with clingfilm and flip over. Place filling on the nori side and using the clingfilm as well as your sushi mat, roll up tightly.

And of course, practice makes perfect. What better incentive to break out the sushi mats again!


Related GrabYourFork posts:
Tamago: My First Attempt
Home-made sushi - Tetsuya's salmon sushi, Feb 05

Home-made sushi - Sushi mania, Jan 05
Home-made sushi - Sushi frenzy, Nov 04
Home-made sushi - Sushi extravanaga, Sep 04
11 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 6/25/2006 12:56:00 am


  • At 6/25/2006 2:36 am, Blogger Mark Vicuna said…

    gosh... i bet none of your friends ever declines an invite for dinner at your place

  • At 6/25/2006 10:56 am, Blogger Rob and Laura said…

    Whoa, thats some really nice looking sushi you made there. How'd you get it to turn out so good if you hadnt done it in a year and a half? How much did the ingredients cost all up and how many people have did you feed?

  • At 6/25/2006 7:12 pm, Blogger Su-Yin -Décorateur said…

    woW! great work with the sushi!...cant believe they were homemade! *clap clap clap*

  • At 6/25/2006 11:18 pm, Blogger tytty said…

    *clap, clap, clap, clap* *standing ovation*

  • At 6/25/2006 11:56 pm, Blogger deborah said…

    what a sumo effort! i love all those prawn sushi... they look magnificent!

  • At 6/25/2006 11:59 pm, Blogger Ed said…

    Wow! I always wanted to learn how to do this stuff. Coming soon...

  • At 6/26/2006 12:58 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Mark - Actually it was at Veruca's place, and no, I never decline her invites either!

    Hi Rob and Laura - It's like riding a bike... once you get going, you never forget! We had about ten people eating but we had enough to feed about 50! Sorry I can't help you on the ingredients cost (we shopped here, there and everywhere) but it's much much cheaper than having sushi out.

    Hi Suyin - Aww thanks. We were absolutely exhuausted by the time we sat down to eat though!

    Hi Tytty - Oh stop it *blush* Now sit down and have something to eat... lol

    Hi Saffron - Thanks. The prawn sushi were tasty, freshly cooked and oh-so-sweet.

    Hi Ed - Ooh can't wait. Sushi is great. Once you've done the prep work, the rest is easy.

  • At 6/26/2006 8:06 am, Blogger Reb said…

    Well done! What an impressive looking spread.

  • At 6/26/2006 10:22 pm, Blogger papa lazarou said…

    bravo ! looks sensational...

  • At 6/27/2006 9:31 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    What a shame we didn't get around to making everything as planned.

    Will need more prep work next time.

  • At 6/27/2006 8:50 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Reb - Thanks. Only problem with being the chef is you tend to lose your appetite by the time you get around to eating it!

    Hi Papa Lazarou - Thank you. For some inexplicable reason, we never do sushi in moderate quantities!

    Hi Veruca - Next time we will bring out the inari, the unagi and those funky kampyo sheets as well. Oh, and make mochi. And tempura. And... =)


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