Here comes the spring again, and all it brings! A time of opening to new concepts, ideas and adventures. That is why, in this article, I decided to talk about sea vegetables. I’m sure there are many people who have never even heard of sea vegetables, as well as never cooked or eaten them. They come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Some are microscopically small and some are as long as 100 feet long. They vary in form from flat to round, to feathery and elongated. There are thousands of species with a wide range of colors: blues, greens, reds and browns. They provide super nutrition, but have few calories. Sea vegetables contain important minerals such as sodium, potassium and calcium. They provide sources of iodine, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous. Some of the more common seaweeds are arami, hijiki, kombu, wakame and nori. We’re going to explore with nori in this recipe, as it happens to be a main ingredient in making sushi.
Nori is a red algae of the porphyra species. It is bright lavender in the water, but dries to dark purple or black color, that turns iridescent when toasted. Nowadays, because of its popularity, nori is cultivated and harvested by machines; mechanically shredded and dried by blowers. The Japanese population alone consumes over nine billion sheets of nori a year. It is packaged and sold in thin sheets, usually pre-toasted and approximately the right size for making the sushi. (You want to buy pre-toasted nori for making sushi.) It can also be used chopped as a garnish for soups, casseroles, salads or stews. Enough said…. Let’s make sushi!
Rice for Sushi
Note: this recipe yields enough rice for about four sheets nori or about 20-25 pieces sushi.
1 cup sushi rice (can be bought in health food stores)
11/4 cup water
2 T. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. honey, or maple sugar or brown rice syrup
Wash rice well and drain. Put in saucepan with water, vinegar, sweetener, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and cook another 15 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand about 5 minutes, and then spread rice onto a platter to cool off. While rice is cooking, assemble your other ingredients in a work area.
This is where the fun begins because here is where you get to be very creative. Of course for lovers of fish, you can use raw tuna, raw salmon, cooked shrimp or cooked scallops. Make sure your fish is “sushi” fresh or right out of the water. A multitude of complementary vegetables are optional such as cucumber, avocado, and carrots (cut into matchsticks and lightly salted), scallions, steamed watercress or spinach, zucchini, red peppers and pickled ginger. The list of possibilities goes on, and the creative choice is yours. I usually don’t use more than 2-3 ingredients for each filling because you want to be able to roll it when assembling.
Assembling the Sushi
Array all your different filling options before you. I like to put each ingredient onto its own plate to see all the possibilities and colors. Every sushi chef knows that the first bite is with your eyes. Making sushi is making art, so choose your ingredients with your taste buds and your eyes.
You will need a bamboo sushi mat, which can be obtained at a kitchen gourmet store. Place a sheet of nori on your sushi mat. Spread a 1/2” layer of rice on the nori, leaving a 3/4” margin around the sides. A good tip is to have a small bowl of water nearby for dipping your fingers in, to help spread the very sticky rice. Lay your strips of filling, in any combination, down the center horizontally. Lift the mat edge that is closest to you and begin rolling away from you, gently pressing the roll to firm it. Just before you complete the roll, moisten fingertips and wet the remaining and only side of nori exposed. When rolling is complete, this will “seal the deal”. Voila! There you have a long roll of sushi. Place on cutting board and with a very sharp knife, slice into 1/2” slices. Arrange on a plate with pickled ginger, a small bowl of tamari and some wasabi paste. Have fun! Have a sushi party! Be creative! Don’t forget the sake! CHA
Bon Appetit! Buy organic!
from CHA Magazine, Spring 2007
Nancy Crosby has 30 years of cooking experience and has explored helthful styles and techniques of cooking, including vegetarianism and macrobiotics. Nancy lives in Brewtser whe she offers private and group cooking lessons to achieve a balance of health and well-being.