Thursday, December 20, 2007


There are many Japanese foods that can be made at home that are just as fun and as tasty as can be found at your local sushi bar. It feels even more authentic if you refer to them with their Japanese names. ^_^


-- You will need these sheets of toasted seaweed for a lot of things. I have not found a lot of noticeable difference between the cheep $1.99 packs and the more expensive ones (more expensive = $3.99). Sometimes there is a stronger flavor, and it should be noted that nori is probably the fishyest tasting thing you're going to find at a sushi bar. I would suggest snacking on a little bit, realizing that this is as bad as it gets. It will make you appreciate the amazing wonderfulness of the raw fish! Anyway, I have read in some cookbooks that you can actually re-toast nori, and I have tried it in a dry fry pan over high heat. Works pretty well. Nori wrapped around sushi rice tends to be crispy and even a little hard to bite / cut through right after you make it, and toasting makes it more brittle. I have made sushi the night before and eaten it for lunch the next day and I actually enjoy the texture of the nori better then (much more tender.) But it's up to you.

*note- You can also use soy wrappers as a stand in for nori if it is really too fishy for you. Or for a change - they come in many pretty party colors.

Sushi Rice
- Okay -- I am going to admit to something totally horrible. I don't rinse my rice. Not very much at the best of times, and not at all most of the time. I also don't have a rice cooker (can't bring myself to pay $35-55 for one) so I cook my rice in an old broken pressure cooker on the stovetop. Still, I do use sushi rice, usually a California variety w. a rose on the bag. There are many different kinds, and many sizes of bags. This one seems to fit my budget.

-- I buy premade mirin, but you can make your own with rice vinegar, salt and sugar. The one in my pantry right now is called red mirin but it looks and tastes just like normal. Once you make your rice, you douse it with mirin to taste.

- Pickled ginger is nibbled between different pieces of sushi to cleanse the pallet. Being that I'm a total sushi-heathen, I like to eat it throughout the meal; it tastes good! I just read about a chef who uses the leftover ginger-pickle juice as a flavoring for soups.

-- if you like horseradish, buy a tube of this green stuff.

Soy sauce
- There are many many different kinds. My pallet is not advanced enough to know the difference. But it is very necessary to have on hand!

Toasted sesame seeds
(or furikake, which is a mixture of dried veggies, seaweed, sometimes fish, and sesame seeds) - Another tasty addition - if you make California maki (rolls with the rice on the outside instead of the nori) you can roll the outer rice in one of these.

Stuff to try:

(Flying Fish Roe) or Masago (Smelt roe) Roe= fish eggs -- This is pretty easy to find frozen in Asian grocery stores. Make a little ball of rice, wrap a sheet of nori around it so that it extends over the top to make a little cup. Fill the cup with defrosted roe. You could also try any kind of caviar.

(Shrimp) - What could be easier than a split cocktail shrimp over a nicely formed piece of rice (you could also stick it there with a little bit of Wasabi)? Pick this little appetizer up with your fingers and dip the shrimp in soy sauce.

Smoked Salmon

The things to go out for....

Inari - Thin fried tofu pouches are stuffed with rice. A way to convey rice to you - no raw fish included. I'm not a big fan, but I've probably just never had good inari. Sometimes slightly sweet: I choose to allocate my calories elsewhere. Not sure how to make at home.

Uzura - Quail eggs. Not something I usually have lying about, so I suggest you go out for them. I look forward to having my first ones at Saburo's sometime to see how they are served...(note - they came fried up like tamago! see below for instructions.)

Saba (Mackerel) - A white fish with blue and silver skin (which is usually left on when served)

Ika (squid) - I have had good and bad Ika. Bad is fishy and too chewy. Or it can be white, tender and tasteless.

Suzuki (stripped sea bass) - I think I have had this before and it was really good, but I didn't know what it was called. Very white going to pinky fish.

Hokki-gai (surf clam) - Clam is usually chewy. I don't think I've had this, but I'm not sure where you'd find it / keep it for home use so I put it here.

Bonito -- Okay -- Bonito a skipjack tuna which is lower in mercury than other tunas... needless to say, tuna is my new best friend. I love it. Sushi bonito is seared, so good for those that want to ween on to sushi by having it slightly cooked. Maguro is red tuna, probably high in mercury due to its place on the food chain.
Hamachi - yellowtail (not to be confused with yellowfin) - it is close to tuna, but is a lighter white-pink color.

*note - Bonito is also dried and made into a powder which is used to make dashi, miso soup base (along w/ kelp).
And something to try --
If you have soy sauce, mirin, and eggs, you mine as well try your hand at making your own Japanese breakfast, lunch or dinner treat:

Tamago -- scrambled egg fluffy and multilayered, experiment and see what you think. If you can't stomach your creation, then add to the "things to go out for" line.

1 comment:

Kristina said...

I say you just haven't had good inari. Yum!