When you say "sushi
" most people automatically think of the Maki roll. It is a filling of nearly any kind--from raw fish
to plain veggies
to the popular California Roll
(cucumber, avocado, and crab) to a shrimp tempura
or even a teryaki beef
--surrounded by sushi rice
and rolled up in a layer of seaweed
, or nori
. Some maki rolls (notably the California) are "inside out", meaning the rice, usually rolled in sesame seed
s or polly seeds, is on the outside and the nori is touching the filling. A standard serving is six to eight pieces.
Maki, like most sushi, is served with a pile of gari (pickled ginger) and a blob of wasabi, a VERY hot Japanese horseradish that is not avocado no matter how much it resembles it. The "proper" way to eat maki is to pour a small dish of soy sauce and add wasabi to taste (or not at all) and dip each piece in the dish, and eat it as a whole bite. It's generally bad manners to gnaw on a piece of maki, but some specialty rolls are so large it's nearly unavoidable. Gari is properly eaten between pieces to cleanse the palate, although many people like a piece of gari on top of their rolls.
Maki is an excellent place for non-adventurous eaters to start because unlike most forms of sashimi, maki is available in non-raw-fish forms. Even many picky eaters like California rolls or veggie rolls. And the combination of tastes, the rice and seaweed, make the thought of eating raw fish a little less scary for an inexperienced diner. (I personally can't stand fish, cooked or raw, but adore maki rolls of other types.)
Maki is also fairly easy to make in your own home. You will need a sushi mat, which is a set of small bamboo skewers tied together, sheets of nori, all the ingredients needed for sushi rice, and your choice of fillings. Unless you live on a coast, it's a good idea not to use grocery-store raw fish in homeade sushi. Stick to cooked meats or vegetables unless you KNOW the fish is very fresh.
Prepare a pot of sushi rice as per the node. One cup will make between three and five rolls, depending on how much rice you add.
Lay a sheet of nori on the bamboo sushi mat. Spread rice on two-thirds of the nori very thinly. Place filling on the far edge on top of rice. f is filling, ... stands for rice, x for blank space.
Now you are going to roll the roll. Starting at the filling end, curl the mat, and the filling/rice around off the table until it touches itself.
When the mat has touched the rice bed, fold the mat back and start rolling again, touching and folding the mat back, until you run out of rice. When this happens, dip your finger in a bit of warm water and wipe it across the far end of the seaweed.
Keep rolling, and once you're done smooth the wet seaweed down tight to keep the roll from coming apart. Cut with a very sharp, nonserrated knife. Try to chop through the roll instead of saw it, or the fragile seaweed will tear. Each homeade roll should make eight or 10 pieces. For smaller, more compact rolls, use half a sheet of nori. These usually only work with single-filling rolls like cucumber, the fancy rolls are too bulky for a half sheet. Serve with wasabi, gari, and soy sauce, and enjoy!
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