Japanese take-out in rural Rhode Island?
Even better — it's Japanese make-in! The three families in Ninecooks' Family Cooking Group created these masterpieces in their first-ever sushi session. And, while we used traditional methods and some traditional equipment to make these beautiful maki rolls, we most definitely did it our way.
After rinsing and drying the rice, we prepped all of our filling ingredients while the rice happily gurgled and steamed in the rice cooker. We julienned cucumber, red pepper and carrots; blanched asaparagus; crisped bacon and fried a small omelet; raided the fridge for seafood salad; sliced turkey and cheeses and tomato and smoked salmon; plucked some basil leaves; and toasted black sesame seeds. We set out our condiments: wasabi, hoisin, praline mustard and Dijon.
The kids took turns toasting the yakinori (seaweed sheets). Then, with all of our ingredients ready to go, we turned our attention to the rice.
All hands on deck! The rice must be fanned! Out of the rice cooker, half the hot steamed rice went into a wooden salad bowl, the other half into a sushi-oke. We drizzled on the rice vinegar and sugar syrup, and gently folded and turned and fluffed until all of the rice glistened.
Just like those lucky empresses of ancient Rome, each rice bowl had two people gently fanning (with whatever was close at hand — bamboo mats, pot holders, packages of nori!). We fanned until the rice was just cool enough to handle, and returned it to the cooker covered with a clean dish towel to absorb excess moisture.
Then it was time to rock and roll, and roll we did. With our mise en place in place, and bowls of vinegar water at the ready (for dipping our sticky fingers), each cook set up a work station with a bamboo rolling mat. With their own creative flair, some used traditional combinations of vegetable fillings....
...while others went a less traditional route (Is that a peanut butter and jelly roll? Yes, it is!).
Our platter began to fill with maki rolls of every kind and color combo: asparagus and turkey with wasabi, cucumber and red pepper with Dijon, bacon and egg, seafood salad and carrot, smoked salmon and wasabi, and our very own caprese (tomato, basil and mozzarella).
By the end of the evening, we were rolling like pros. In fact, Lora tried her hand at a couple of inside-out rolls, filled with vegetables and sprinkled on the outside with black sesame seeds. They were a thing of beauty.
We had so much fun making our maki rolls, and they tasted so good, that we ate and ate...and didn't have room for dessert! But we did have enough left over for everyone to pack a lunch to take to school or work today.
Hmmmmm....peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or PB&J sushi? No contest!