Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Sushi Rolls

I love sushi rolls, and since being gluten intolerant, eating sushi out and about can be a minefield.

Even though it looks like rice, fish and vegetables should be safe and you just need to avoid the soy sauce, there are a few things to watch out for.

These are the ones I'm wary of:
* Soy sauce (you could take your own Tamari instead if you plan ahead)
* Crab sticks, which contain wheat
* Mayonnaise, used to season some types of rolls, like California rolls. Some mayos contains gluten. When in doubt I always avoid it
*Seasoning used for rice. In some restaurants it contains soy sauce in addition to rice vinegar, sugar and salt. I recommend asking when ordering

To ensure I could enjoy sushi rolls whenever I wanted, I was pondering how difficult it would be to make my own ...
As if by magic, I found an offer at my local Sainsbury's on all Yutaka sushi making ingredients, and all the packets have instructions, so this was my chance!
I bought a sushi bamboo mat, sushi rice, sushi nori (seaweed sheets to roll your sushi in), rice vinegar and sesame seeds.

In really good sushi, it is the quality of the fish that makes the difference. Sushi grade fish has to have a parasite destruction guarantee. According to European Union regulations, freezing fish at −20°C (−4°F) for 24 hours kills parasites. If you are planning to use raw fish, always check with your supplier that it is safe to eat.

 To make my life easier and avoid poisoning myself i decided to make mine with smoked salmon. Safety first!

Ingredients (this makes a generous portion for 2, I get 4 rolls that can be cut into 6 pieces each once you discard the ends)
For the rice: 250 gr sushi rice, 330 ml water
For the rice seasoning: 3 tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt
For the roll: Nori sheets (roasted seaweed), Sesame seeds
For the filling: Smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber, Chives (or you could substitute the salmon for roasted red peppers)

How to cook the rice
Put 250gr of rice into a bowl and wash with cold water. Repeat 3 or 4 times and then drain the rice with a sieve.
Add 330mls of water and the washed rice to a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 25-30 minutes. Do not open the lid! I like to put it in the fridge for another 30 minutes, so that it is cold and easier to handle.

How to season the rice 
Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt first and once well combined mix it with the rice.

How to make the rolls
Place a sheet of nori onto a bamboo rolling mat
Spread a thin layer of cooked and seasoned rice as evenly as possible over the nori, leaving a 1cm gap at the top and the bottom so that you can seal the roll
Place the filling of your choice in a line about 5cm from the front of the nori, be careful not to use too much filling as it will be difficult to roll
Begin rolling the nori carefully and evenly around the filling, using the mat to help shape it, rolling away from you and pressing firmly. Pull the bamboo mat away from you, and make sure to keep rolling the nori around itself (there are some very good drawings on the back of the pack if you use Yakarta nori).
Once the roll is complete, press down firmly on the mat to compress the roll slightly, so that it keeps its shape
Cut the roll into evenly sized pieces and serve with tamari sauce, wasabi and sushi ginger

Inside out sushi rolls
These look very pretty with the rice on the outside and some sesame seeds (or even some fish roe to decorate the outside). It is a little bit more fiddly but not too hard.
Start as before with the sheet of nori on the bamboo mat and spread the rice thinly. Now sprinkle sesame seeds on top (or fish roe), as many or as little as you like.
Now comes the tricky bit: we cover the rice side with cling film and as quickly as possible and we turn it upside down, being careful to keep it all together.
It needs to go back on the sushi mat, with the cling film on top of the mat (then rice, then nori sheet).
It is now that we add the filling as before, but this time on top of the nori.
We'll need to cut off the top third of the nori sheet so that we get a nice roll, and it is rolled exactly like the other rolls with the help of the mat. In this case you have to be careful not to roll the cling film inside the roll, so pull it out gently as you roll.
It does look more complicated than it is, but once you watch a couple of you tube videos it is actually not difficult at all.
I'd say it's important to press the rice tightly when spreading it onto the nori sheet, as it will be easier to roll and the finished shape will be better too.

It is quite fun, and I've already made rolls a few times. My next sushi challenge will be to experiment with different fillings ;)

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