Monday, May 12, 2014

Gaijin Style

For my birthday last month, my wife Karen gifted me a sushi-making lesson at a local cookware store. Yesterday, for a Mother's Day appetizer, I made the fifth through eighth sushi rolls I've ever made in my life (the first through fourth were accomplished during the class). Keeping in mind that actual Japanese sushi chefs undergo years of training to master the intricate techniques and rituals involved, I think I did commendably well.

My plan was complicated by the fact that my wife Karen and one of my daughters dislike uncooked fish ("bait"). There are fine vegetarian sushi options, but for my appetizer I decided to go off-book and improvise--daringly foolish for my first solo flight.

I browned chunks of unskinned chicken breast in a pan, then chopped it into small bits that I mixed with a homemade teriyaki glaze. I made two types of teriyaki chicken sushi: one with red bell pepper and one with cucumber. Both also had bean sprouts. Having learned in sushi school that traditional sushi only contains an odd number of ingredients, I stuck with three.

Chopped up teriyaki-glazed chicken in the bowl, with bell pepper, cucumber and bean sprouts all mise en placed.
Rice on nori on rolling mat. The small glass bowl has diluted rice wine vinegar for moistening fingers while you work. My sticky rice turned out just right (i.e., sticky)!
Layering up the flavor. Note the Marvel Comics apron that my daughters sewed for me a while back. It's reversible; the other side has a Starship Enterprise pattern. Because I raised them right.
Expert Novice at Work
Four rolls sesame-seeded and ready to go: two for Mother's Day appetizers and two for lunch the next day. I made "inside out" sushi with a layer of rice outside the nori because it's my favorite type, and buries the seaweed texture that some people don't appreciate.
Don't look too closely, a few of these are pretty wonky.
Frankly, I think these could've turned out a little more colorful and attractive. But the most important outcome was that they were delicious. Then a couple of hours later my daughters put out a tremendous Mother's Day spread of grilled polenta, sausage, creamy tomato sauce, Brazilian cheesy puffs (gluten-free!) with garlic butter, and salad with a raspberry vinaigrette.

'Cause that's how the Fies family rolls, baby. Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers or anybody who ever had one.

No comments: