One of the things I miss most after moving to the Highlands, is Japanese food. I had been thoroughly spoiled in the Central Belt always being under an hour away from decent Japanese food.
One of my friends likes to entertain her work colleagues when we’re meeting up for sushi dates, telling them that she’s going for sushi with the friend that introduced her to sushi – and that said friend does not eat fish. Which is funny and also true. I don’t eat fish.
The first time I ate sushi, it was at Yo Sushi on Oxford Street and the friends I went with encouraged me to eat the veggie options and work up to the raw fish. I ate and loved the veggie options and chickened out of the raw fish, but I was determined so I went again when I was back in Glasgow, gave my friend the same advice and savoured all the veggie options while she fell head over heels for the raw fish element. Somewhere along the way I became a vegetarian and she was diagnosed with coeliac disease and sushi became our go to dinner choice because it easily accommodated both our dietary requirements.
I love and miss eating sushi on the regular – the M&S veggie sushi option is better than nothing but all too often a disappointment – and then I realised that I could just, learn to make it myself! I could get the ingredients and the kit fairly easily, learn to roll sushi – I got a book from the library and where that failed youtube came to my rescue – and then make myself cute little bento boxes of sushi for lunch. (Tasty and Instagrammable!)
I started out with sushi balls which are apparently the easiest to make, and while the first few fell apart a bit when eaten, I got the hang of compressing them properly and the later ones in the batch could be safely dipped in soy sauce without collapsing.
My second attempt was in making sushi rolls of the conical variety which seemed a manageable step up in complexity. However this was stymied by the fact that I’d accidentally picked up nori strips rather than sheets so they were too narrow for my purpose. And honestly for most practical purposes as far as I can tell, as they’re about the width you want a maki to be but not long enough to actually hold one together. Perhaps cut into even thinner strips to hold pressed sushi and it’s topping together? I’m not sure you could even make the little sushi boats – whose proper name I’ve forgotten – with them. So the experiment went on hold until I could get hold of some nori sheets.
Once I’d acquired more sensibly sized nori sheets I cooked up another batch of rice – much better consistency this time, and I suspect using actual sushi seasoning rather than making my own from the recipe book helped – and took another run at it. My sushi cones were less than successful, but after some trial and error with the sushi mat I think I’m beginning to get the hang of rolling maki – I have a tendency to over load my nori with rice and not leave room for the filling. But with practice I’m definitely getting better at both general rice handling and also at properly portioning out my rice. My rolls are still chunkier than I’d like but I can now make futomaki that I wouldn’t be ashamed to take to work in my lunchbox even if I’m not quite ready to serve them to anyone else yet!
I may however, need to invest in an actual sushi knife, either that or a whetstone, as apparently I don’t own a single knife sharp enough to be able to cut sushi rolls in an easy or neat fashion!