Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sushi Capital of the South

Six months after starting a job with a consulting firm, I found myself working at a client in Huntsville, Alabama - the ‘Sushi Capital of the South’. I was told Huntsville’s sushi fame was due to the demand of the large Asian population affiliated with the city’s NASA space center. With a sushi restaurant next to the hotel I was staying at, I think I had sushi at least once a week.

Since then, I have learned how to make my own sushi rolls. Although very simple (toro and tempura shrimp have yet to see my kitchen), they satisfy a sushi crave and are easy to make.

Emily’s Cucumber and Avocado Sushi Rolls:

2 Cups Japanese short grain rice
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons salt
Nori sheets
1 English cucumber, seeded and sliced lengthwise
1 Avocado, pitted and sliced lengthwise
Tamari or soy sauce

Start by rinsing the rice grains in a colander under cold water until the water runs clear. After rinsing, add to a rice cooker with 4 cups of water. Meanwhile, heat vinegar, salt and sugar in a saucepan until fully dissolved. When the rice is done, gently mix with the vinegar. Spread the rice mixture on a baking sheet to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, cover with a damp towel to prevent drying out.

To assemble the sushi rolls, place a sheet of nori shiny side down on a bamboo mat. Using a rice paddle, cover evenly with a layer of rice, about ¼ inch thick, leaving an inch border on the top edge. Place the cucumber and avocado in a row, across the rice, about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom. Using the bamboo mat, tightly roll up the nori with gentle and even pressure, starting from the bottom. Using a sharp chef’s knife, trim the edges of the sushi roll and then slice into 6-8 pieces. Serve finished rolls with wasabi and tamari.