Last Sunday was the Japanese GP and there was never any doubt in my mind as to what I would make. I love sushi, but have never really given it a go at home so this seemed like the perfect excuse to try. Sushi seems to be quite popular over here as well, there are an awful lot of sushi bars around. You can also buy the rice and nori sheets in the supermarket. The one thing you can’t get though is rice vinegar, which is a little frustrating as sushi is vingared rice, the plain stuff just doesn’t cut it!
Before starting my sushi I took to the web looking for tips. The one I found most useful was Ian & Sue Mitchell’s How to Make Sushi site. It was their advice that I followed for the tricky part – cooking the rice!
I used a cup of rice (this made enough sushi for 2 with some spare) and washed the rice until the water ran clear. I then placed the rice in a heavy pan with 1 and a half cups of cold water and brought everything to the boil. Once the water was boiling the heat was turned down low, a lid put on the pan and everything was left for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes I turned the heat off but didn’t take the lid off, leaving the pan for a further 10 nerve racking minutes.
Finally after this time as up I could look at the rice. It was perfectly cooked. The rice was soft and the grains separated easily. It hadn’t caught to the bottom and it wasn’t too glutinous! I was very relieved!
While the rice was cooking I had made my vinegar mixture. For this quantity of rice I heated two tablespoons of white wine vinegar (instead of the proper rice vinegar) with two tablespoons of caster sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Once the sugar and salt has dissolved (and the room smelt of vinegar!) I turned off the heat and let the mix cool.
With the rice ready it went into a large plastic bowl along with the vinegar mix and I ‘fluffed’ and cooled the rice moving it around with a pair of chopsticks. After about 5 minutes of fluffing and fanning the rice with some paper I then left it to cool by itself for an hour or so.With the rice cool I began to make my sushi. I started off with some Nigiri. This involved making some small sausages of rice which would then be topped with tuna or salmon. On first picking up the rice I quickly discovered just how stick the vinegar/sugar mix had made it. By wetting my hands first I was able to handle and shape the rice without the majority of it sticking to my palms.
I made 10 little sausages and then cut my toppings, 5 tuna and 5 salmon. My fish was raw and so you have to be careful. I’m quite lucky in that although I’m pretty far from the sea, salmon tartare is very popular in this region and so you can still get very fresh fish. A Migros 15 minutes away from me has a very good fish counter where the quality is very high and so I felt confident enough in the fish I had to happily eat it uncooked. I cut five slices each approximately 2 cm by 5cm from my salmon and my tuna and placed them on top of the rice along with a little wasabi. I then cut some small strips of nori to secure the toppings to the rice.Next I had a go at making maki rolls. The amount of rice I had let me try two varieties and so I made some avocado and salmon ones and some tuna and fresh red and yellow pepper one. To make the maki I placed a sheet of nori onto a bamboo place mat (you can get proper sushi mats, but my place mat worked just fine) and spread my rice over ¾ of a nori sheet. I then placed my toppings along what would be the length of the roll and added some daubes of wasabi before proceeding to try and roll everything. This is not as easy as it sounds and as when making a roulade or swiss roll, taking things slowly seemed the way forward. I carefully rolled things trying to keep everything tucked in and tight and eventually I was left with a large green sausage of sushi.The next challenge was trying to cut the sushi. I had a very sharp knife, but it obviously wasn’t sharp enough as it just pulled and torn the sushi. In the end the best thing I found was a serrated bread knife. This did flatten the circle slightly (something I could kind of fix one the sushi was in bits), but at least I was able to get bite size pieces. From my two rolls of nori I made about 12 individual pieces (plus the ends which were just as tasty but not as pretty) and these went onto my plate with the nigiri.I finished things off by cutting some slices of salmon sashimi for my partner and I and then we were ready to tuck in. I have to say I was pretty impressed. For a first attempt everything looks pretty professional when it was all together on a plate. When I tried the rice by itself I felt it was maybe a little sweet, but with the toppings/filings and the wasabi it was just right. Aside from preparing the rice I was surprised how straight forward actually making the sushi was. I had always thought that sushi must be quite difficult and, I’m not saying it was easy peasy, but I feel I could do this again once evening for tea rather than needing to set aside a whole afternoon to prepare everything. All in all I was very pleased with how things went!
The race was a triumph for the two fastest men within it. The championship is really a two horse race, with Vettel needing one point in the rest of the season to clinch his second world title, while Jenson Button needs victories in every single race.
Button did his job but Vettel singly failed to read the script, driving the Red Bull home safely in third. Despite losing his momentary pole to Vettel who drove him off the track, Button came back using tire strategy and jumped the Red Bull in the pits stops. From there he was unstoppable, bring the car home with over two seconds in hand.