I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I did it again tonight. Well, really, I didn’t have much choice. I had opened the fish and the vegetables and they wouldn’t keep, so I needed use the rest of it or it would be junk. This time, since we didn’t have a follow-up roast, I made miso soup and fresh rice. I ran out of appetite LONG before I ran out of food. Lucky I had Garry by my side to finish off all my extra make rolls!
If you want recipes, I can give them to you, but you might be better off picking up a copy of the book. It’s not just the food you need. You need dashi and miso and dried seaweed and generally, unless you are already Japanese, you probably would need to buy these in a grocery or order them. I bought the book first, then figured out what I needed.
What you DON’T need is a rolling mat. Other than keeping rolls from sticking to the cutting board, they don’t serve any purpose. You also need medium or short-grained rice which, for the purposes of making maki rolls or sushi, you will not rinse so that it will be very sticky. Brown rice doesn’t work for this kind of food, but the food is really healthful. You can eat a lot of it and not feel like you’ve pigged out. Unless you’re (like me) a bit of a pottery junkie (I have a serious pottery habit, from ancient Chinese porcelain to modern Japanese rice bowls and (don’t judge me) porcelain chopsticks (hashi). I have a lot of pottery and it’s the other reason I don’t have a cat. Dogs may chew up the coffee table, but they won’t leap onto shelves and knock all the pottery crashing to the floor.
It took a couple of weeks for all the different things I needed to arrive, but yesterday, it was all here. We’d also gone grocery shopping earlier in the week, so we had the right vegetables. Even the avocados had reached the perfect stage of ripeness.
It turned out I didn’t really need the wrapping matt. While it keeps the roll from sticking to the cutting board, my fingers were better for rolling. Owen and I made four big maki rolls which considering we were having roast lamb for dinner, we dared not eat it all immediately or we wouldn’t have room for dinner.
Meanwhile, we made fresh wasabi.
Wasabi is Japanese horseradish. Except it isn’t Japanese horseradish anymore. These days, it’s almost always a blend of American and Japanese horseradish because Japanese horseradish is more difficult and expensive to grow. Officially, if the mixture is more than 40% Japanese wasabi, it can legally be called “Japanese wasabi.” I’m not sure I’d know the difference.
I bought rice bowls. I have dashi powder, miso, four kinds of soy sauce, and a couple of very sharp knives. We had fresh shiitake mushrooms, European cucumber, a fresh carrot, the aforementioned avocado. We also bought imitation Alaskan white fish (pollack) and lox (smoked salmon). It really wasn’t as much work as I expected. Mostly, it was preparation. There’s almost no cooking involved. We made four rolls and ate one immediately. We had to test drive the maki, right?
Duke got the leftover Japanese omelet which made him happy. Garry got the leftover avocado, which made him happy too. We all ate the maki roll which contained sticky rice (it’s supposed to be sticky, but this was very sticky), slivered cucumber, avocado, cooked egg, simmered slivered carrots and shiitake mushrooms — simmered in a sauce made of soy, sugar and rice wine. Simmered just enough to soften the carrots. You could have used that sauce to dip the maki. That made all of us happy because it tasted just like it was supposed to taste.
A note for those who would like to try it: I didn’t use the “rolling mat” except to keep the rolls from sticking to the cutting board. I couldn’t figure out what I would need the mat for — and rolling them with my fingers wasn’t difficult. Some people apparently need the mat, but I’m not sure why or for that matter, how it works. Considering how easy it was to roll by hand, I didn’t feel I needed anything else.
For a first attempt at making maki rolls, it was way beyond our expectations. I expected more mistakes, but aside from the first roll in which I put a bit too much rice, all the rest looked and tasted just like they should. I’m delighted. I might even be thrilled.
Garry has two favorite dinners. Japanese food and roast lamb. Tonight we had both. We ate well, but Garry ate very well.