When we depart Hawaii to come home to Dallas I dream of the fresh sashimi style Ahi tuna and plentiful sushi for months. With all of the fresh fish in Hawaii, particularly Ahi, and Asian influences on the island, sushi nights are plentiful. I was inspired this last trip though, for the first time, to try to prepare my own sushi (instead of just deconstructing it as I have done with my favorite roll – the Hawaiian roll with Ahi, mango and avocado, recipe linked here.)
Dear friends had joined us on the island for a bit and discussed the ease of preparing fresh sushi rolls with perfectly steamed sushi rice and your favorite fillings. Her perfect avocado roll sushi, from the Hawaiian avocado we crave, was so dreamy I had to try it myself. So, with newly purchased sushi mat in hand, and a grocery bag full of ingredients I was off. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to do this correctly. It takes time to cook the rice, cool the rice and then roll the sushi. Admittedly, I like things to go a little faster than they do, so I should have let my rice cool a little bit more than I did, so mine was slightly overly sticky, but still delicious! Pair with a fresh, slightly briny Rias Baixas Albarino or a crisp, dry Riesling.
Fresh California Sushi Rolls
For the rice – 1 1/2 cups sushi rice
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Mirin
2-4 tablespoons sugar (I don’t like my sushi rice to be quite a sweet as some, so to your taste)
For the rolls:
1/2 pound of fresh crab meat, we used the meat from Alaskan King Crab, a gift from another Hawaiian friend who had just returned from a fishing trip, but any quality crab will do, picked clean of shells
1 Avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced into thin strips
1 English cucumber, cut in half and scrape out any seeds, then slice into thin strips
Wasabi paste, to your taste
Nori (seaweed) sheets for rolling
Pickled ginger, additional wasabi and soy sauce for serving
1 sushi mat
A very sharp knife
Make the rice: Add the rice to a colander and rinse several times until the water runs completely clean to remove excess starch. Then, add the rice and water to a sauce pot and bring to a boil. After it boils for 1 minute, cover with a lid and turn the heat to a very low simmer or completely off. Let the rice cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and shake the pot a bit with the lid still on. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, add the vinegar, Mirin, sugar and salt to a small ramekin and microwave on medium for about 20 seconds to help the sugar and salt melt into the vinegar. Set aside. When the rice has rested gently pour it out into a large wooden bowl, using a wooden spoon to help (always use a wooden spoon, no metal as it will change the taste of the rice.) If any rice is stuck to the bottom of the pan leave it as it may add a bitter taste to your sushi rice.
Using a wooden fan, fan the rice to help it begin to cool. Pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold it in to fully incorporate. Continue to fan the rice to help it cool for another 5 or so minutes. Place damp paper towels or a damp cloth over the rice bowl and let sit until cool. This will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or so.
Meanwhile, prepare the rest of your ingredients, but be sure to keep everything cold until ready to assemble. When the rice has cooled lay your sushi mat out on a board. Place 1 sheet of Nori on top of the mat. Using your fingers begin to lay a thin layer of rice over the mat, covering it completely except for about an inch at the bottom, closest to your body. Have a small bowl of water close by to help get any rice off your fingers while working.
When a layer of rice is down place a line of crab meat across the Nori from left to right about 1/3 down from the top of the Nori/rice layer. Add a thin layer of wasabi over it (optional) then a layer of cucumber and then avocado. When you have layered your ingredients, carefully pick up the back of Nori sheet (furthest away from you) and gently fold it over the line of additional ingredients.
Using your mat, continue to roll the Nori around the remaining rice to create a sushi roll. Lift off the mat and seal the roll with the remaining bit of Nori that didn’t have any rice on it. Set aside and repeat until all of the sushi are complete, you should have 3 or 4 rolls, depending on how full you make each roll. Be careful as the Nori will tear if you over fill (another mistake I made…) Using a very sharp knife slice the roll into wheels, creating about 6-8 pieces per roll. Serve with soy and ginger, and a bowl of fresh Hawaiian style Ahi poke on the side.