sushiWhen I moved out to Gallup, NM, the closest place to buy sushi was two hours away in Albuquerque. Many thanks to Sarah for teaching me how to make it, along with a trip to Japan that taught me the value of a serious rice cooker.

So, about rice cookers: In Japan, I learned that most people don’t even know how to make rice on the stove, because everyone has a rice cooker. I’m not talking about some standard, cheap cooker like I had when I first lived on my own. They are ok, but I’m now too picky about the texture of my rice. I know that spending almost $200 on a rice cooker seems ridiculous, but this thing is amazing. Before this, I never made rice because it was such a pain to get it to come out right – now I can set the cooker in the morning to be ready for dinner, and it seriously cooks it perfectly every time. It has revolutionized my sushi. It also plays sections of the alphabet song to let you know that it is starting and finishing.
All this also explains why I will not have directions for making sushi rice, though I’m told there are recipes online.

-1 cup of rice per person
-rice vinegar to taste
-furukake (rice seasoning, available at Asian markets – be careful, since some versions have fish. this is optional – you can also use toasted sesame seeds and sugar to taste)
-roasted nori seaweed – go for the highest quality you can – it makes a difference

filling options:
-vegetables cut into the thinnest strips possible: carrots, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, radishes, spinach, onion – anything you like
-sweet egg: beat an egg with a little soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of salt. pour into a hot, small pan with a little sesame or canola oil and cook until pretty much solid. flip it until done on both sides, and slice into strips
-thinly sliced cream cheese – there’s a local brand here that is very solid, and that works very well. you could also buy the whipped kind and pipe it out of a cut corner of a plastic bag.
-pickled vegetables from an Asian market
-sesame seeds

add when you eat it:
-soy sauce
-kewpie mayonnaise. trust me.
-natto, if you like it (fermented soybeans, available in the fridge of most Asian markets)

1. Let the rice cool a bit, and add vinegar and furukake (or sesame seeds, salt, and sugar) to taste.
2. I like to use my hands to roll the sushi on a clean cutting board. I find the bamboo rollers just made it more difficult for me. Place a sheet of nori in front of you, shiny side down.
3. Wet your hands (keeps the rice from sticking), and spread rice in a very thin layer on the bottom 2/3 of the nori.
4. Place desired fillings about an inch from the end closest to you. The key here is to use less filling than you think you want. Remember that you are going to want to eat each piece of sushi in a single mouthful, and that more fillings just make it more likely to fall apart.
5. Tightly roll from the end with the filling, making that inital circle tight across the whole roll, and then continuing to roll the whole thing.
6. When you get to the end, wet your fingers and spread water under and over the seam of the roll to make it stick. Then turn it over to dry a bit with its own weight on the seam. This will help it stay together.
7. Use a very sharp knife to slice the sushi. If it is sticking, try dipping the knife in hot water in between slices.
8. Enjoy!

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