Sushi: all wrapped up

April 12, 2006|By KATE SHATZKIN | KATE SHATZKIN,SUN REPORTER

Sushi rolled in seaweed, or maki, is the ultimate compact appetizer or meal - rice,vegetables and raw or cooked fish in a neat, tight package. While there's an art to complicated, beautiful sushi concoctions, you don't have to be a sushi chef to roll your own simple version of this everyday Japanese food.

The two Chinese characters for sushi, translated as "preserved fish" and "fish fermented in rice and salt," first appeared in Japan at the beginning of the 8th century A.D., write Kimiko Barber and Hiroki Takemura in the book Sushi: Taste and Technique.Hand-formed sushi evolved as a street food starting in the 1800s, according to the authors.

You might want to start with a simple vegetarian sushi as you perfect your rolling technique, says Anthony Andrews, a chef instructor at Baltimore International College.

You'll need short- to medium-grain cooked rice; sheets of seaweed called nori, which can be found in Asian markets or in the international section of some supermarkets; a bamboo roller, usually found where nori is sold; and Saran Wrap to help form and firm the rolls. Dipping your hands in a mixture of vinegar and water before you work with the cooked rice both flavors the rice and keeps it from sticking to your fingers.

Vegetables such as carrots, peppers, cucumbers, avocado, scallions and daikon (a white radish found in Asian markets) should be thinly sliced and placed along a narrow line of wasabi paste. Soy sauce and pickled ginger can be served on the side.

If you do use raw fish,choose the highest-quality you can find and buy it right before you prepare your rolls - then keep it cold until you need it. Slice fish in strips and add on top of vegetables, taking care not to overfill rolls.

kate.shatzkin@baltsun.com

BASIC ROLLED SUSHI

MAKES 12 DINNER-SIZED ROLLS

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil in a bowl (divided use)

3 to 4 cups cooked short- or medium-grain rice (divided use)

one 2-ounce jar wasabi paste (divided use)

1 carrot, peeled and julienne (divided use)

1 bundle of scallions, thinly sliced (divided use)

12 ounces fresh fish, such as sushi-grade tuna, cut into thin, 3-inch strips (divided use)

EQUIPMENT:

bamboo roller mat

Saran Wrap

12 sheets nori seaweed, available in the Asian section of supermarkets

1 cup vinegar mixed with 2 cups water

STEP 1 // Place bamboo roller flat on a cutting board and lay a piece of Saran Wrap on top to cover.

STEP 2 // Place a piece of nori on top of the Saran Wrap, shiny side down.Wet your fingers with the sesame oil and spread across the nori to moisten it, all the way to the edges. Dip your hands in the vinegared water to prevent rice from sticking. Spread 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of rice across the piece of nori, covering about twothirds of the nori and leaving a wide border at the edge farthest from you.

STEP 3 // Dip a finger into the wasabi paste and spread a thin line across the middle of the rice. Place a few strips of carrot and scallions along the line of wasabi. Cover with a strip or two of fish, lining up strips so there are no gaps between them.

STEP 4 // Roll the bamboo mat over so that the edge of the nori closest to you meets the edge of the rice. Press gently, tucking mat in to shape. Untuck the edge of the mat and push the roll forward to seal so that the roll is wrapped in Saran Wrap. Twist ends of wrap to enclose. Refrigerate up to several hours.Repeat to make 12 rolls.

STEP 5 // To serve, use a sharp, serrated knife to slice into pieces through the Saran Wrap, then peel off wrap.

Courtesy of Anthony Andrews, chef instructor at Baltimore International College

Per serving: 143 calories, 8 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 11 milligrams cholesterol, 117 milligrams sodium

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