April 3, 2012

DIY DINER: Simple Sushi

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Sushi. The simple solution to a healthy, satisfying and usually expensive meal. I’ve found a cheap trick however to combine ingredients in a way that I assure you will quickly become a trend.

Sushi. The simple solution to a healthy, satisfying and usually expensive meal. I’ve found a cheap trick however to combine ingredients in a way that I assure you will quickly become a trend. Plum Tree employees will no longer give you the weird looks I originally got ordering a roll or two (or perhaps three?) of my favorite, cucumber and cream cheese. The two textures feed off each other, the softness of the rice and cream cheese countering the crunch of the cucumber.

One $5 roll is more than sufficient for a snack and two makes for a fulfilling dinner for anybody with low budget worry. Add a side of miso soup for about $1.50 and you’re set.If this off-kilter combo isn’t for you however, there are more traditional combinations you can make for approximately the same cost. A roll of cucumber and avocado captures the same essence of soft and crunchy textures, although giving it a more tart, buttery overall taste. Moving a little up in price there’s the classic vegetable roll including match-stick sliced carrots, cucumber and avocado as well.If you’re willing to venture into the ‘fish market,’ but particularly want to continue my cream cheese theme, the philadelphia roll is a solid choice combining the aforementioned cream cheese and avocado with tuna. These may seem like obvious options when sitting down to order, but my cucumber and cream cheese combo really caused a stir after the first few times I ordered it. My friends have started to join in the fun and even the waiter who knows me by now (both by what I order consistently with how much I order it) has tried a piece, smiling. If you’re too lazy to go down the street to pick it up however, there’s always the opportunity to make it at home, simultaneously enabling you to explore your cooking abilities, dabbling in Japanese cuisine. Below is a vegetable roll recipe, but feel free to get creative and add or take away ingredients as I did! Adapted from The Food Network4 rolls, prep 20 min, cook 25 min, total time 45 min

You Will Need:1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar2 teaspoons sugar1 teaspoon salt1 1/2 cups short-grained sushi rice1 1/2 cups water4 sheets toasted nori1 kirby cucumber or 1/2 regular cucumber, seeded and cut into matchsticks1 carrot, cut into matchsticks1/2 firm-ripe Hass avocado, peeled, thinly sliced lengthwise, sprinkled with lemon juiceSoy sauceBamboo sushi mat

For the rice:Mix vinegar, sugar and salt. Rinse and drain the rice. Bring rice and water to a boil in a saucepan with a very tight lid over high heat, then reduce heat to very low and let it simmer, still covered. Cook until the water is absorbed (15 minutes or so) and take the rice off the heat, still covered; set aside for 10 minutes.Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer it to a large bowl. Mix vinegar mixture with the rice using a wooden spoon. Spread it out on a “parchment paper-lined baking sheet.” Fan the rice until cooled and cover with a damp towel.To make the rolls:Make sure the mat’s slats run crosswise and place a sheet of nori shiny-side down and lined up with the closest edge of the mat. With wet fingers, evenly press 1/4 of the rice onto the nori, with 1 1/2-inches uncovered at the far edge. Put your fillings about 1 inch from the closest near edge evenly spread across the rice. Leave 1-inch of rice uncovered at the far edge.Beginning with the near edge of the mat, tightly roll up the nori, rice, and fillings into a cylinder. Pull on the rounded mat over the roll as you pull on the far edge of the mat. Open the mat, blot the unsealed edge of nori with water and roll the sushi forward to seal. On a plate, cover the sushi  with damp paper towels. Repeat with remaining rice and fillings.Cut each roll crosswise into 8 pieces with a sharp, wet knife.Serve with bowl of soy sauce for dipping.

Original Author: Danielle Diniz