Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sushi: Totoro Rolls

Breakfast: Coconut and ginger granola with almond milk

Lunch: Egg fried rice and veggies stir fried in char sui sauce

Dinner: Home-made sushi: Yam and Avocado Rolls, Totoro Rolls and that dope salad that everyones loves

Now, I know some of you will be looking at this post thinking "Sushi sounds like a lot of effort. Why would I make my own when it's so cheap and good from the sushi place?" Well, mainly because it's fun, but also because you get to invent new rolls!

It was my good friend Phil who first taught me how to make sushi rolls when I was living with him and the effervescent Elly in our inexplicably nice apartment in Manchester. Phil made it look easy, and though I was dubious at first I soon realised that once you've got your technique down, it is!

It's a common misconception that "sushi" means raw fish, so I often get the question "...but how can you eat sushi?". The raw fish is actually called "sashimi" and "sushi" refers to the rice which has the flavourings in it - just so you have a good rebuttal next time that question is asked.

We messed around a bit and started making our own rolls, and it's the recipe for our new roll that I'm posting here - I'll post the recipe for the awesome salad dressing soon. These aren't vegan because I went mad and put cream cheese in them, but if you are vegan, feel free to substitute the cream cheese with a thin line of wasabi or chili sauce, then you've got Suicide Totoro Rolls!

I'm not convinced that my advice on how to roll is comprehensive, so read this first and it should all become crystal clear.

You'll need
(Feeds 2)
1 bamboo rolling mat - about 2 dollars from any Asian store / No Frills / Asda
1 1/2 cups sushi rice
3 cups water
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp salt
3-4 sheets of nori
1/2 yam (a sweet potato to us Brits)
1 avocado
75 grams tofu
cream cheese

Put the rice and water in a pan and bring to the boil
Put the lid on, turn down to simmer, and don't take the lid off until the rice is done - about 20 minutes
Mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl, then drizzle it into the cooked rice and mix to ensure thorough coverage
Leave the lid off and leave the rice to cool
Cut the yam into batons of about 2 cms square and either bake or fry these until they are soft all the way through
Cut the tofu into the same shape and size, and fry them til crispy on the outside
Cut the avocado to the same shape and size and set aside
When the rice is cooled, lay 1 sheet of nori on the rolling mat and cover it in rice, leaving a couple of cms at the top and bottom clear
Create a thin line across the middle in cream cheese
On this line, place pieces of yam, avocado and tofu
Grab the edge of the nori closest to you and the rolling mat too, and start to roll the whole shebang
Keep the roll as tight as you can without spilling all the rice out of the sides
When the roll is fully done, and the two edges of the nori meet, squeeze your hands around the rolling mat to tighten the roll
Unroll the mat and cut the roll into slices, starting by cutting it in half down the middle
Your knife should be as sharp as you can get it, and you should wipe it clean with a wet paper towel between every slice
Don't worry if it goes badly the first time - you'll get it before too long!

This roll has most definitely been made somewhere before, but I've never come across this awesome combination, so I got the name it - and, of course, I had to go with my favourite Japanese thing in the world: Totoro!

Don't be disheartened if you get a sticky mess of crap the first time you make these: it is definitely an acquired skill. Just keep trying and when you get your first awesome looking plate of sushi you'll feel it was worth it! Of course, you can always go the Australian road and just eat the whole thing as a handroll; it's easier.

Just a note: you shouldn't actually keep sushi in the fridge. The temperature dries out the sushi and affects the flavour too. However, in dire circumstances it will stay edible overnight, it will just be nowhere near as good as it could be.

P.S. The little man who appeared at the end of my tofu appeared to be bemused by my efforts...

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