It’s Time to Party with Temaki Sushi!

Sushi - K-On Movie - 01

In my previous post, I shared a recipe for the seasoned sushi rice that is found in maki, nigiri, and other sushi related dishes. So, now that you can make the rice, what do you do with it??

Of course, you could always spread the rice on nori (sheets of dried seaweed) to roll your own maki, or form your rice into oval mounds and drape them with fish to create nigiri… Maki is great to make yourself if you want a light meal or  would like to put it in a bento, but it’s not always the easiest thing to make if you want to make a dinner out of it!

Simply put, not everyone has the time or patience to roll their own maki or form their own nigiri, because doing so can be time consuming and difficult to accomplish, especially if you’re cooking for a larger amount of people. That’s why today I’ll be introducing an easier and more crowd-friendly alternative: temaki sushi!

In anime, temaki sushi appears sporadically. I found it featured briefly in the K-On Movie, on the same sushi-go-round conveyor belt that inspired me to share the sushi rice recipe. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any more instances of this type of sushi in anime…  Nigiri and maki are definitely much more prevalent in anime… As I see more examples of temaki sushi, I will add them into this post. If you know of any anime that feature this distinctly cone-shaped sushi, please drop me a line!

About the recipe:

Temaki sushi (te meaning hand, and maki meaning roll) literally means “hand roll”. It’s most commonly seen in sushi restaurants in the form of cones of nori filled with rice, fish, vegetables, and other fillings typically found in maki. It looks fancy on a place but, despite its appearance, temaki sushi is actually very easy to make!

The only warning I would say is that this recipe makes a lot of food, and it takes plenty of cutting. But, once you’re finished using your knife, it’s pretty easy sailing from there! All of the measurements listed in the recipe are only approximates, since it’s not always possible to cut your fish or vegetables exactly to size due to their naturally variable sizes. Do you best at cutting, a just try to make them small and long – which will help when filling your temaki sushi.

This is one of my favorite meals to make for, what I like to call, a “sushi party”! It only takes a little work in the morning to cut up all the fish and vegetables, but once I’ve got it arranged artfully on a couple of plates, I can just cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator until the guests have arrived and we’re ready to eat.

And, the best part? I don’t have to do any of the assembly myself… With all the ingredients cut up and ready for use on the table, the guests can construct their own, personal temaki sushi, and I don’t even have to lift a finger! It’s basically a “make your own sushi” party!

Like many sushi dishes, temaki sushi is completely customizable. If you’re a vegetarian, cucumber, tamago-yaki, oven-roasted yams, radish sprouts, avocado, and vegetable tempura could be on the menu. If you prefer more protein, a larger selection of different fish (such as salmon, tuna, octopus, squid) can be used.

I generally pair temaki sushi with a host of other dishes, such as pan-fried gyoza, seaweed salad, edamame, and thinly sliced eggplant drizzled in a vinegar-ginger dressing – just for some variety. A bottle of sake doesn’t hurt either!

About the ingredients:

Any sushi-grade fish may be used in this meal, but do make sure that it is fish that is specifically meant to be consumed raw. Contrary to popular belief, the fish used in sushi is not fish that is freshly caught and then served up for the customers. Instead, the fish is frozen solid for a certain amount of time in order to kill any parasites that might be in the fish. Don’t try to make your own “sushi-grade fish” by simply freezing it yourself. Buy it from a reputable source instead.

Always make sure to keep it cold while you’re transporting it. Once it’s cut, keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Also, it’s generally advisable to consume the raw fish on the day that you purchase it.

Radish sprouts can be found in some Asian grocery stores. It is usually sold in a thin and somewhat tall plastic container, sealed with a plastic cover. When you open the package up, you will find the sprouts growing upwards, with its roots embedded in a piece of cotton or some other material at the bottom of the container.

To use, simply wash the sprouts, still attached to the cotton, under cold water. Shake them to gently to remove excess water, and then use a knife or a pair of scissors to cut the sprouts from the cotton. You want to make sure you get only the stems and leaves, but no roots. Discard any yellowed sprout leaves.

Shiso is not an easy ingredient to find, but if you can manage to find it, it makes a wonderful addition to the meal. In Asian grocery stores, it can be found sold in small bunches of leaves stacked one on top of another on a styrofoam trays and covered with plastic wrap.

Shiso is a fragrant herb belonging to the mint family. It can be green or red (green is presently more common), and is broad-leafed with a variably serrated edge. In some stores, it may be called by its genus name, “perilla” (but be careful, because there are other plants marketed as “perilla” that are not shiso).

Nori is edible seaweed, and comes in the form of thin sheets. It can be found in many grocery stores, and is used in this recipe as the outermost layer of the temaki sushi. If using un-toasted nori, toast the nori before serving by drifting it over the low and open flames of a glass stove. I usually hold onto a corner of the nori sheet using a pair of chopsticks or tongs. Drift the nori sheet over the flames a couple times per side. Doing this, crisps up the nori and gives it a toasted flavour.

Gari is thinly sliced ginger that has been pickled. It is pink in color, and is a common accompaniment to a sushi dinner. It can be found in many Asian grocery stores, and comes in a jar,  submerged in a vinegary solution.

Wasabi is a spicy and pungent green paste made from the root of a plant called the “Japanese horseradish”. It is used as a condiment typically found accompanying sushi. You can either add it to your soy sauce, or put a bit directly into the sushi. It is commonly found in most grocery stores, and may be packaged in a tube, or even found as a powder that you add water to to form into a paste.

Japanese mayonnaise is optional in this recipe, but if you like the taste of the mayonnaise that’s in California rolls, you may want to squeeze some in your temaki sushi.

Tobiko, masago, and ikura are three types of cured fish eggs. They are salty, flavourful, and rich, and add a very nice punch of color and taste to sushi. Usually they can be found in stores that sell sushi-grade fish.

The recipe:

Temaki Sushi

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe of seasoned sushi rice
  • 3/4 – 1 lb of sushi-grade fish, cut into ~3 x 1/4 inch sticks (or as close as possible, depending on the dimensions of your fish)
  • 8-10 sheets of nori, toasted and quartered (add more as needed)
  • 1 small cucumber, seeded and cut into ~3 inch matchsticks
  • 1 avocado, cut into 1/4 inch sticks
  • 1 recipe of tamago-yaki, cut into ~3 x 1/4 inch sticks
  • 1 Japanese sweet potato, oven roasted and cut into ~3 x 1/4 inch sticks
  • 1 package of radish sprouts, washed and cut from its roots
  • 1 package of shiso

Accompaniments:

  • Japanese soy sauce
  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • Wasabi
  • Gari
  • Tobiko, masago, or ikura

Directions:

For the sweet potato: Pre-heat oven to 35o F. Scrub sweet potato skins with a brush under cold water until cleaned of dirt or debris. Let the skin dry a bit, and then wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Place on an oven proof tray or baking sheet, and roast in the oven until it is softened, about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato.

To check of doneness, unwrap the foil and insert a paring knife or fork into its center. There should be little resistance. When cooked through, remove from the oven, unwrap from the foil, and let cool completely before peeling and slicing.

2. Arrange your cut fish and vegetables on a plate or two. Have the rice ready at room temperature in a bowl and the nori on standby.

To assemble:

1. Spread a layer of sushi rice on a piece of nori, using chopsticks or hands dampened with water.

2. Position the nori so that one of its corners faces you, and looks like a diamond (rather than a square, with its straight side facing you). Place a selection of fish and/or vegetables in the center of the rice, with the long ends of the fillings pointing towards the two corners. Since it will be formed into a cone, you can layer more fillings at the top of the nori (having some extend beyond the top of the nori is okay too).

3. Roll the nori up to form a cone, using either a bamboo mat or your hands. You can also fold the two remaining corners one over the other (almost like folding a burrito?).

4. Use your hands and dip your temaki sushi in soy sauce and/or wasabi and enjoy it while the nori is still crispy!

Tips and suggestions:

1. Don’t fill your temaki sushi up with too much stuff or else you won’t be able to close it!

2. If you don’t feel like making it into a cone shape, don’t! I actually tend to simply fold the nori over the fillings and pinch it at the top. You can also roll it up like a maki too!

3. This is a meal where you use your hands to eat… don’t be shy! Have some sake… it’ll help!

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