We love to go out for sushi. Sushi restaurants please everyone in our family, vegetarians, fussy eaters and grown-ups alike. Paul and I order sake, usually a tempura appetizer and roll or two to share. Lucy, being the resident vegetarian, orders an avocado roll. Zoe, she’s predictable and loves her California roll. Elliot isn’t a sushi eater but can easily be made happy with a big bowl of noodles.
Lucy’s been asking for awhile if we can make sushi at home. I said yes every time, but we never did it because it requires some special equipment. Stuff I didn’t stock in my pantry. She can be a very persistent girl though, and finally she wore me down. On Friday evening, after work, I fought the traffic on Central and stopped into the Asian market on Colvin Ave. I picked up sushi wrappers, sushi rice, bamboo mats (at $1 each I bought one for each person), cucumbers, cilantro, mango and avocado. Keeping my non-sushi eating son in mind, I also picked up a bag of vegetarian dumplings. They have a large selection of these and I chose one without meat and made in the U.S.A.
The Asian market is also a great place to stock up your pantry with items like soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and hot sauce. There are many different choices. With my bags full of sushi-making goods, I headed home. My kids each invited a friend over for this event, but the two boys had no interest in rolling sushi and Paul was working late, so it was just me and the girls.
I set up a big sushi-making station in my kitchen, with slices of mango, avocado and cucumber alongside chopped peanuts and a big bowl of rice. Each girl had a mat, started at the rice, and moved down the counter, choosing what they liked in their roll. At the end of the line, I helped a bit with the rolling. The first couple of rolls were no items of beauty. In fact, they were downright ugly. It took a little practice, and by the fourth roll, we were expert. Okay, not expert, but we were producing edible rolls. The trick was not over filling the roll.
We made a spicy sauce that we piped over the top of the rolls after they were sliced. I also stirred together tiny bowls of soy with chopped green onion and sesame oil. The Asian market sells pretty little bowls just right for dipping for a couple bucks each.
When all four girls had finished a roll worthy of eating, we fried up some dumplings and set the table with chopsticks, candles and sparkling juice. I left the girls to eat alone, checking on them now and then to fill up juice or serve up more dumplings. Were our sushi rolls as good as Shogun or any of our favorite sushi restaurants? Nope. But they were good. And the best part: it was fun for all.
special equipment: bamboo mats (I suppose you could use plastic wrap, but the mats were handy and felt authentic to my kids)
cooked sushi rice (Following the recipe on the back of the bag of sushi rice, I simmered rice vinegar together with sugar and salt, then poured that over the warm cooked rice)
sliced avocado, mango, cucumber, green onion
chopped roasted peanuts
‘special’ sauce: stir together a few heaping spoonfuls of mayonnaise with sriracha sauce. Spoon into a small plastic bag, seal and snip off the corner.
Lay a wrapper on a mat and spoon rice in a thick, even layer over. Leave 1/4″ border all around the edge. Start at the top, and layer on the fruit and vegetables, herbs and peanuts, making a stripe of each and working towards the bottom. Use the bamboo to turn up the edge and roll over, going slowly and pressing down with each turn. Use a very sharp knife to slice the roll into 4 or 5 pieces. Drizzle with a little of the spicy sauce, if desired. Serve with soy sauce topped with green onions and sesame oil.
*There are some good youtube videos on how to roll sushi. It’s worth a look before you start.
How to Make Sushi Videos:
Find It!Asian Food Market 91 Colvin Ave
Albany, NY 12206 (518) 458-8166