Me and my good friend Tilly (who designs/ owns the fabulous and very sexy lingerie brand Nearer The Moon) have been meaning to meet up for ages, I had the idea that we could catch up on life whilst making sushi… it was both our first time making it and here is how it went!
I love the idea of doing something creative instead of just going for drinks, it means you have also shared an experience together and created new memories whilst reminiscing about old ones. I think the concept of a sushi making party could be extended to a much bigger group of friends, all you need to do is pile up the ingredients in the middle of the table and then provide everyone with a rolling mat. Tilly’s boyfriend Toby came to see Scott too and they helped us eat our creations, thankfully!! Sushi is small but very very filling!
I recently bought the Yo! Sushi Japanese cookbook, I would highly recommend it because it explains very clearly what all the more unusual ingredients are and it has step by step photos of how to make all different types of sushi.
As well as sushi we also made gyoza dumplings just to have a bit of variation to our lunch.
These were really yummy but I think we could have filled them more, it’s hard to know how much to put in because you don’t want to tear the wrapper. Aside from being slightly fiddly they were very easy to make, the recipe is called vegetarian gyoza dumplings on page 102 and it is simply gyoza dumpling wrappers filled with minced vegetables.
To make the dumplings finely dice 1 clove garlic, 1 inch ginger, 4 shiitake mushrooms, 1 carrot, 4 savoy cabbage leaves, 1 onion and 1 leek then mix in a bowl with a 1 tblspn corn flour and 1 tspn toasted sesame oil. Brush the top half of your gyoza skins with water then pile a heaped teaspoon of veg mix into the middle and fold your wrappers over the filling, seal the edges tight. Continue until you are out of gyoza skins and vegetable mix. These are then fried in batches until golden brown on both sides and once ready add them all back into the pan with half a glass of water, pop the lid on and steam until the water has evaporated.
The dipping sauce was the highlight here – 2 tblspn rice vinegar, 3 tblspn soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. I didn’t know what to expect when I saw the ingredients but the taste was authentic and bold.
A good piece of advise if you are having people over to make sushi is to prepare your rice in advance. It needs a lot of love but it is worth every minute! The book actually has 4 pages dedicated to preparing the rice so i would suggest reading that first, but here is a condensed version.
Wash 200g of rice (feeds 4-5) 5 times until the water runs clear then leave to drain for an hour in a sieve. Now put in a saucepan with 220ml of cold water, put the lid on and bring to the boil, DO NOT LIFT THE LID, as soon as you hear it boiling turn the heat down and simmer for 7 minutes. Once the time is up take the pan off the heat, STILL DON’T LIFT THE LID, and leave to steam for 10 minutes. Trust me, this makes perfect sticky sushi rice.
Once cooked pour it into a large flat bowl and pour over 30ml rice vinegar mixed with 6g salt and 20g sugar. The next bit felt very traditional, using a wet wooden spatula gently separate the rice to mix the vinegar in and at the same time fan the rice to cool it down quickly. Keep doing this all around the rice until it is thoroughly mixed and cooled down significantly. If you are not using it straight away then cover with a damp tea towel and do not refrigerate. It will be good up to 4 hours.
The rolling of the sushi took a bit of practise. Both of us put too much rice in our first attempt of maki rolls and ended up with fat rolls which didn’t quite close up 🙂
By the end we were making really pretty sushi though! For these maki rolls you break a seaweed sheet in half and lay the sheet horizontally close to the edge nearest you pf your mat. The trick is too wet your hands so the rice doesn’t stick then spread your sushi rice out on the seaweed evenly and leave about 1cm border on the side of the seaweed nearest you. Once your rice is spread out use your finger to make an indentation horizontally through the middle of your rice, this makes a gap to put in your chosen fillings.
I used wasabi paste, asparagus, black sesame seeds and pickled ginger as my first choice. You could also use any of the following vegetables thinly sliced:
Herbs like Coriander
To roll the maki lift the edge of your mat and use your fingers to secure the filling. Gently roll the mat so it is folding the seaweed over the filling and joining it all together at the other end (the book explains this better). I was surprised at how well it stuck together, you must ensure you use enough force to create a tight filling but not enough that you squash it!
Once we felt confident with our maki rolls we decided to try Californian inside out rolls, these ended up being our favourite. You have to cover your sushi mat with clingfilm first. The concept is the same except once you have spread out and gently pressed down your rice on to the seaweed you have to flip it upside down and put your fillings onto the seaweed side then roll it up. Then coat the rice exterior in sesame seeds and slice. I used asparagus, avocado, wasabi and ginger as my filling.
Yes we were very busy! We also made hand rolls which were a lot easier but to be honest not as pleasant to eat. Only because we all felt that the seaweed stuck to your mouth and they were messy to eat!
The method is really simple, lay half a sheet of seaweed in your hand and place your rice in the corner in a triangular shape going across the sheet (see photo for guidance). In the opposite corner stick down a couple of pieces of rice. Lay your sliced vegetables across the rice and then roll the wrap around the filling into a cone shape. Those extra few bits of rice will seal the come.
We were well and truly stuffed afterwards and we’d definitely caught up on all the gossip! If you have any questions about making sushi then please feel free to comment below 🙂 I don’t think I have captured everything I learnt about the technique! It was so new to me and so exciting!
You don’t have to be an experienced cook to give this a go, it’s relatively simple with the right preparation and extremely satisfying! I can’t wait to have more friends over for my next sushi party!