I mean seriously, raw fish, sticky rice, seaweed. What in that sentence isn't scary? Okay, so I didn't tackle raw fish with this sushi. I did do other stuff to conquer this dish, though. In fact, I decided it was best to take a class! Also, it was a LivingSocial deal for Culinaerie, a cooking school a few blocks from my house. Hey, I am nothing if not practical. My friend, Rosita, took the class with me, even though she is already a sushi pro. I was glad to have her support and additional knowledge since I am a Midwestern-white girl who didn't even eat sushi, much less make sushi, until a few years ago.
You like how I just threw that word in there? Nigiri-sushi is the type of sushi where there is just a little mound of rice and a piece of fish on top. What we made in class was maki-sushi. Maki-sushi is probably what you think of first when you think sushi - it is the common sushi roll that includes seaweed.
In class we first learned how to julienne things.
The instructor also taught us about julienne, batonnet, and baton. Basically, they are all the same thing just different sizes, julienne being the smallest. [Wait, so this was like a knife skills class, too? Jealous - Court] [Also, do you pronounce those terms with a French accent? - Court]
The rice had already been made for us and after julienning, we basically just had to assemble. I know, I know, you're probably thinking: What exactly did you do in this class? No fish, you didn't even make rice! But really, making rice is making rice.
. . . Except for in sushi making. Heh.
For sushi rice, a) you have to get special sushi rice and b) throw out the normal 2:1 ratio of water to rice. Since you want your rice to be sticky, you end up using way less water; about 1.25 cups water to 1 cup sushi rice. However, before cooking the rice you need to wash it until water runs clean. After cooking the rice, using the appropriate ratio, you fold in rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Use a non-reactive bowl, as you don't want the metal in some bowls reacting with the vinegar in the rice. After the rice cools (you can spread it out in a layer to cool), you want to either use it immediately, or cover it with a damp towel until you are ready.
Now, finally, we are at the sushi rolling portion of the post. The only really special equipment you need is a bamboo sushi mat. Ours were covered in plastic wrap in order to cut down on the pain-in-the-ass-cleaning it would take to get rice grains from between the bamboo. So, if you plan on making sushi and want an easier clean-up, wrap your bamboo mat in plastic wrap.
To make maki-sushi with the rice on the inside, you take half a piece of nori (seaweed) and cover all but a 1/2" strip of it in a thin layer of rice. The strip should be on the long edge furthest from you. To work with the rice, wet your fingers before picking some up. You really do want a thin layer of rice, otherwise you won't be able to close your sushi roll. At the same time, however, you want to make sure you cover all of the nori except for your one strip. I tried to cover the nori but still be able to see the green of the nori through the rice. [These are very good tips! - Courtney]
If you are making ura-maki, or the kind of sushi with the rice on the outside, you leave the strip of nori on the ong edge closest to you and then flip the whole thing over so the rice is facing the bamboo mat instead of the nori.
Along the center of the proto-roll, lay down your sushi fixins. Generally, we stuck to only putting 2-3 ingredients in each roll. You really don't need much at all. For example, when we used the avocado, we would only use 2 thin, thin, slices per roll.
Okay, now the tricky part. I kind of wish I had a video. So, you have your nori, your rice, and your avocado and carrot or whatever all together and on your bamboo mat.
Step 1: Wet the strip of nori that is exposed.
Step 2: Fold over the proto-roll half-way using the bamboo mat. Okay, this is really tricky: you have to make sure all of the filling stays in while simultaneously rolling it all over. For me, it worked best to keep my thumbs and pointer fingers on the bamboo mat while using my middle two fingers to keep everything in. You pinkies are just kind of along for the ride.
Step 3: Lift up the bamboo mat and shift forward, peek in to see how your sushi is doing.
Step 4: Roll forward again to make the edge of the nori meet the rest of the roll. Leave the bamboo mat where it is.
Step 5: Shape the roll. You want to apply even pressure all along the bamboo mat so that you don't come out with tapered ends or bulging sushi [Is that a euphemism? - Court], but sushi that still stays together.
Step 6: Remove mat and shape a little more to make sure it is round and nothing random is sticking out.*
Step 7: Cut the roll into 6 pieces. First, cut the roll in half, and then cut each half into thirds.
And that's it! I really can't wait for an excuse to make some for a party.
*Sorry about the pictures from all different maki rolls, it was hard to wield the camera, drink my wine, and eat the sushi. My life is hard. [Wait, wine? - Court]