I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy right now. Sushi? Really? Is it worth the trouble?
And I’ll admit, while I was walking through Whole Foods gathering supplies, I was thinking the same thing. Who knew that sushi rice was different from regular white rice (it’s stickier), or that real, authentic wasabi is nearly impossible to find?
Not me. But I learned, first by Googling a lot – I found about.com‘s instructions to be the most helpful – and then by trial and error.
Surprisingly, though, there wasn’t a whole lot of error. I decided to give my sushi a go last Saturday night, and invited four girlfriends over for the event. They brought the wine and the dessert, and I supplied the sushi fixings.
Here’s what I picked up at the store:
Nori (sheets of seaweed, which generally come ten to a pack)
Sriracha (a chili-garlic sauce, used for making my favorite spicy rolls spicy)
Miso-ginger salad dressing
I already had a few of the basics at home, including rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, frozen shrimp and mayonnaise. I did, however, have to pick up a bamboo rolling mat, which was $4.99 at Crate and Barrel.
The grand total: $36.28.
About 45 minutes before my friends were due to arrive, I started the rice, which takes about 20 minutes to cook. Once it’s done, you stir in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Then, of course, it has to cool completely (admittedly, I stuck mine in the freezer to speed up the process. I’m sure a sushi chef would be cringing right now, but it worked fine for me. I just stirred it frequently and it cooled – but didn’t freeze – in about ten minutes or so).
In the meantime, I cut my vegetables into long, thin slices, mixed my spicy sauce – a combination of mayonnaise and sriracha, to taste – and roughly chopped my defrosted, cooked shrimp and imitation crab. Once the rice was done, I covered my bamboo mat with a piece of saran wrap, laid out my nori, and spread an even layer of rice with my fingers (keep a bowl of water handy, because wet fingers are the key here). I then arranged my fillings – I made spicy shrimp rolls, California rolls, and vegetable rolls – and rolled the whole thing up, making sure that the filling stayed in and the saran wrap didn’t get caught inside.
Because the rice naturally moistens the nori, it’s relatively easy to cut the rolls into bite-size pieces with a sharp knife.
I made a total of six rolls for our little dinner party, and served them with edamame and salad with ginger-miso dressing. We couldn’t believe how good the whole spread was, and how authentic the sushi, in particular, tasted. Maybe the rolls weren’t quite as tight as we were used to – okay, fine, they weren’t – but the taste was pretty spot on.
And the savings? I ran some calculations based on my neighborhood sushi restaurant’s prices, which range from $4 for California rolls and vegetable rolls to $6.50 for a spicy shrimp roll. Salads like the one we had are $4.50, and their edamame appetizer is $4. That means that if we’d gone out instead, we’d have been looking at a bill of at least $55 before drinks, tax and tip. Add in the obligatory bottle of wine for $30, a 20% tip of about $18, and we’d owe over $100.
It’s hard to argue with that, and I haven’t even gotten to the best part: I still have enough supplies left over to do the whole thing over again – in fact, I made myself two California rolls for lunch the next day, and used a leftover avocado in taco salad for dinner.