RICE & GRAIN DISHES

Sushi rolls (maki-zushi)

Sushi rolls

There are two main types of sushi, nigiri-zushi, which is vinegared rice hand-formed into oval shapes and topped with various raw and cooked seafood, and maki-zushi which is vinegared rice combined with seafood and vegetables then wrapped in an edible seaweed called nori and sliced into rounds.

Nigiri-zushi is quite finicky to make at home and we tend to eat this type of sushi at Japanese restaurants and sushi bars. Maki-zushi, on the other hand, is far easier to prepare in your own kitchen and the taste of these delightful morsels has left many (including us) with an addiction for life! This sushi recipe requires a sushi mat for rolling.

Sushi rolls (maki-zushi)
serves 6
Lightly vinegared rice combined with seafood and vegetables then wrapped in an edible seaweed called nori and sliced into rounds.
2½ cups Japanese short-grain rice (like koshihikari rice)
2½ cups cold water
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons superfine (caster) sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Your choice of fillings (see Sushi roll variations below)
6 sheets nori
Japanese soy sauce
Pickled ginger (gari)
Wasabi paste
PLACE the rice in a colander and rinse thoroughly under the tap until the water runs clear, then drain well. PLACE the rice and the cold water in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. COVER the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook for 15 minutes without lifting the lid. TURN off the heat and allow to stand 10 minutes more, still covered, then spoon the rice into a large bowl. MIX together the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves, then drizzle over the rice. MIX together gently to coat the rice with the sushi vinegar, then set aside to cool to room temperature. FOR instructions on how to fill, roll and eat sushi rolls scroll to the bottom of the page.

SUSHI ROLL VARIATIONS

The range of possible fillings for sushi rolls is enormous. By mixing and matching various ingredients you can create many different varieties. Here are a selection of our favorite sushi rolls (Each of the following sushi recipes makes 6 sushi rolls):

Smoked salmon and asparagus sushi rolls. Cut 6 oz (170g) of smoked salmon into thin strips. Lightly steam 12 trimmed asparagus spears, then refresh them in cold water. Smear a small amount of wasabi in a horizontal line across the middle of each rice-topped nori sheet and arrange equal amounts of salmon and asparagus on top. Roll the sushi up and cut into 1½-inch rounds to serve.

Tuna and cucumber sushi rolls. Cut a 10 oz (280g) piece of very fresh raw tuna into thin strips. Peel and remove the seeds from half a small-sized cucumber and cut the flesh into thin strips. Smear a small amount of wasabi in a horizontal line across the middle of each rice-topped nori sheet and arrange equal amounts of tuna and cucumber on top. Roll the sushi up and cut into 1½-inch rounds to serve.

Shrimp and vegetable sushi rolls. Cut 12 large peeled, cooked shrimp in half lengthways. Peel and remove the seeds from half a small-sized cucumber and cut the flesh into thin strips. Trim and cut 2 scallions into thin diagonal slices and thinly slice the flesh of ½ an avocado. Smear a small amount of wasabi in a horizontal line across the middle of each rice-topped nori sheet and arrange equal amounts of each filling on top. Roll the sushi up and cut into 1½-inch rounds to serve.

Tofu, sesame and mixed vegetable sushi rolls. Lightly toast 3 teaspoons of sesame seeds in a frying pan. Cut 7 oz (200g) of firm tofu into thin strips. Peel and grate a small carrot. Remove the stems from 6 fresh shitake mushrooms (or use soaked, dried mushrooms or regular mushrooms) and thinly slice the flesh. Wash and drain ½ cup snow pea sprouts. Smear a small amount of wasabi in a horizontal line across the middle of each rice-topped nori sheet and arrange equal quantities of each filling on top. Roll the sushi up and cut into 1½-inch rounds to serve.

Egg and vegetable sushi rolls. Cook an ordinary omelet using 2 eggs seasoned with salt and pepper, then slice it into thin strips. Cut 12 snow peas into thin strips and grate a small carrot. Smear a small amount of wasabi in a horizontal line across the middle of each rice-topped nori sheet and arrange equal amounts of each filling on top. Roll the sushi up and cut into 1½-inch rounds to serve.

HOW TO ROLL SUSHI
1. PLACE a nori sheet on your rolling mat and spread 1 cup of cooked sushi rice evenly over the nori by pressing with wet fingertips, leaving a 1-inch border at the far edge.
2. SMEAR a small amount of wasabi in a line across the middle of the rice (be sparing with wasabi, it's hot!).
3. ARRANGE small portions of your chosen fillings (in this case, smoked salmon slices and avocado) on top of the wasabi in a horizontal line down the center of the rice.
4. ROLL up the sushi tightly with the sushi mat to form a neatly packed cylinder (like a fat cigar).
5. SQUEEZE firmly to make sure the sushi roll is tightly packed (be careful not to squeeze too hard or you'll break the sushi roll).
6. CUT each sushi roll into 1½-inch rounds using a sharp, damp knife (it's important that you re-moisten the knife after each cut).
7. SERVE the sushi with a small bowl of shoyu (soy sauce) for dipping, extra wasabi for those who like their sushi extra hot, and slices of gari (Japanese pickled ginger) for cleansing the palate between sushi pieces. You can eat sushi with your hands or with chopsticks.