Sushi, and Pervasive American Imports


Yearbooks. ‘Leavers’ sweatshirts. Prom. Would anyone else agree that this excess of North American imports is anything but irritating, invasive and above all flipping expensive? I think it’s nice to celebrate the end of an institutional era, but why do we have to try so hard to emulate the USA?

My daughter’s leavers disco/party/event (I’m not going to use the word) was yesterday, and friends came over to do hair, make-up, nails, outfits, clutches (a small bag, not part of a car). They had drinks, and nibbles, so I made this sushi.

If you ever want to be inspired to make something like this then I urge you to watch the 2011 documentary film ‘Jiro Dreams Of Sushi’, about the 85 year old chef and proprietor of a 3 Michelin starred sushi restaurant in the Tokyo subway. And if you can watch it on a big high definition screen then do so because the close-ups are amazing.

(for the rice)
sushi rice (cooked as per the packet and then seasoned with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar and salt before being left to cool with a cloth over the bowl)
nori sheets
wasabi paste
seafood sticks (you can of course use raw fish and I sometimes do, but I didn’t in this instance, and I think they work pretty well)
smoked mackerel fillets (skinned and cut into rectangles)
preserved roasted red pepper (cut into rectangles and strips)
cucumber (cut into strips)
fresh yellow capsicum pepper (cut into strips)
a few salad leaves like baby spinach or rocket
black and white sesame seeds (dry roasted in a pan and cooled on a plate)
avocado (cut into strips)
pickled sushi ginger
sushi omelette (a thin omelette made from eggs with a little soy sauce, sugar and rice vinegar beaten in, cooked slowly, cooled, and sliced into rectangles)

For the rolls, wash your hands well. I then greased my hands with a little mayonnaise and pressed the cooked rice onto a sheet of seaweed in a thin layer. Then a line of filling (try combinations and don’t over-fill), then a thin smear of wasabi. The ginger is supposed to be a palette cleanser, but I put it in the sushi as well because I like it. It’s wrong. It’s not conventional, purists would scoff. The sheets are then rolled up (I don’t use a sushi mat but find it easier using my hands) and wrapped tightly in cling film before being unwrapped a little later and sliced into rounds. To be fancy you can do an inside-out one – Spread the rice on the seaweed and then lay a sheet of cling film over the top and flip the entire assembly upside down. Continue as above but the rolling is much more difficult as the rice is on the outside. Wrap as above and then when it’s been sat for a while unwrap and roll in the toasted sesame seeds before slicing. The little rectangular ones are clumps of rice formed into that shape with mayonnaise-greased hands, the top smeared with a little wasabi before having something stuck to it (smoked mackerel, omelette, pepper) and finally wrapped in a thin strip of seaweed, glued underneath with a dab of mayonnaise.

We have bowls of soy sauce, bowls of sweet chilli sauce, blobs of more wasabi and pickled ginger on the side.


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