Friday, July 3, 2009

The Great Sushi Throwdown

There we go, Coffee Mates. This was the scene on my dining table this afternoon -- which didn't do a lot for the lighting, I'm sorry to say. Too bright in some spots and too dark in others. (sigh) Just so you know, starting from the upper right, we have sliced avocado (dipped in lemon water so it wouldn't turn brown), strips of cucumber, strips of ham and, huddled in the shadows, a pile of coarsely chopped pineapple. Laying in front of that neat array is the first sheet of nori, rough side up, shiny side down.

Out of camera range is the bowl of sushi rice, waiting to make its stage entrance. I should have taken a picture of it because it turned out perfectly. The dressing was also excellent -- a mixture of vinegar, lime juice, sugar and salt, sprinkled over the rice and carefully folded in until each plump little grain was coated.

I said to Self, "Self, this bodes well. You can't hardly go wrong when the rice is right."

Self said, "Yay-uh," and smiled.

When I had finished slicing all the fillings and laying them out in my very best cooking show style (eat your heart out, Emeril), I said to Self, "Self, it just keeps getting better. You can't hardly go wrong when all your stuff slices up so neatly."

Self said, "Yay-uh," and licked her lips.

Then I flexed my fingers and dipped my hand in the bowl of lemon water so the rice wouldn't stick to me. Scooped up what looked to be a reasonable blob and carefully laid it on the nori, evening up the sides and using the side of my hand to make a little ditch down the middle. Put some ham strips in the center of the ditch, carefully placed an avocado slice on the right side, some pineapple chunks on the left side and a cucumber stick down the middle. Dried my hand on the towl and pulled the lower corner of the nori over its filling. Kept rolling -- gently but firmly until the whole thing was wrapped up like an ice cream cone.

Sort of. Some grains of rice and one chunk of pineapple fell out of the open end and the end that was supposed to be pointy . . . wasn't. It just sort of hung there, taunting me.

I said to Self, "Well, that was just a practice one. I'm getting the feel for it now. The next one will be better.

Self said, "Uhhhhmmmm," and raised one eyebrow.

Laid out another nori sheet and went through the same routine again, this time paying extra special attention to the angle of the roll. Some more rice and another chunk of pineapple fell out. The pointy end . . . wasn't.

After the third try with the same unfortunate result, this is what I had lined up on the platter I'd been planning to fill with neatly shaped sushi cones (see below).

I said to Self, "Self, why are we doing this?

Self said, "It seemed like a good idea at the time?" She was shaking her head and staring at the pathetic cones as though she were viewing corpses that had been prepared by a drunken undertaker.

I looked at all the rice still in the bowl. Then I looked at all the carefully sliced filling that was still artfully arrayed in front of me. There was a blessed moment of epiphany. I said to Self, "Self, there is more than one way to mix and mingle!"

Self said, "Say what?"

But I wasn't listening. I was furiously chopping up all those lovely slices and tossing them into the bowl with the rice. And tossing all those chunks and grains of rice together in a gorgeous bowlful of nummy-nummies.

I said to Self, "Self, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned Sushi Salad."

Self said, "Shazaam!" (Emeril is always saying "Bam!" but Self is into the magic stuff.)

That's how it all ended. The three pitiful sushi cones are covered with plastic wrap and waiting in the refrigerator to satisfy my midnight snack compulsion. I've enjoyed -- thoroughly -- a bowl of the sushi salad and put the rest of it in the fridge for tomorrow. Just to validate the whole thing, I went online and did some Google action. Guess what? Sushi in a bowl -- what I call sushi salad -- is enjoyed by millions. Okay, maybe thousands. Hundreds?

Whatever. The point is, there must be a lot of other people out there who like to cut to the chase, too. They even crumble some of the nori into the salad so they don't miss out on that. Besides which, the salad form allows room for a lot more magical ingredients to be added. You can't go wrong when you can add ingredients to your tummy's content.


Bonnie said...

Where the heck do you find sushi rice? I have jasmine thanks to you.

Dee said...

Ah! Sorry, Bonnie. I should have been more specific. For sushi you want a short-grain rice, like pearl rice. This kind of rice will stick together without being mushy. I use CalRose, which is a California bred pearl rice. For more info on rice types, go here and scroll down to the section on short-grained rice.

Maggie said...

Hey, forget the rolls here too. Me, excavating my old computer to produce a new one has certainly left me shaking my head.

kate et jim said...

Well - I'd like a bite of that nori wrap/cone, right now! (Or sushi wrap or whatever it's called). Or, if you prefer, you can just dish it up the way you finally did. It's all good, Dee!

Why do you make me hungry, just before I go to bed! lol

Is the nori slightly salty? I'd love to have it dried and just break a piece off, here and there to chew on!

~ Sil in Corea said...

Nori [or "kim" if you shop in a Korean grocery store] is "just-right" salty, sort of a dark-green vegetable chip, like a really thin potato chip, crispy and crunchy at first, then gently chewy,...Yum! I'm salivating just thinking about it. Like you, Dee, I can't eat just one!