Nathan and Katryn Travel To Japan

This afternoon Nathan and I were walking by tanks full of live fish, frogs, turtles, snakes, and crabs… you might think we were enjoying a day at the aquarium but no.  Oh no, no.  We were at the Asian supermarket! (If you had been there you would have recognized us… we were the only two white people.)  It was like stepping in to a different country for a few minutes and we had a total blast!  Although, reading food labels is a bit hard when you don’t know what they say…

After wandering around for a while we found what we were looking for: a bamboo rolling mat, chopsticks, sheets of seaweed, rice wine vinegar, and pickled ginger.  I’m sure everyone in the store was rolling their eyes at the typical Americans buying sushi stuff at the Asian supermarket.

The first key to making Sushi rolls is to allow plenty of time. I started the rice at 6:00pm and we didn’t eat until way past 9. The rice needs time to cool and the rolling cannot be rushed…take time to channel your inner calm! One thing that I would have changed about our sushi rolls is that the rice turned out a tad too sweet…most recipes call for a combo of rice wine vinegar and sugar over the rice but I wish I had used ONLY the rice wine vinegar. The vinegar is sweet enough alone!

Stay tuned for our next post: frogs legs and turtle soup…

Katryn’s Drink Pairing: Katryn-San’s Ginger Coconut Frozen Samurai

My Ginger Coconut Frozen Samurai gets a solid 9 out 10 and was perfectly paired with the Sushi. The mellow and smooth overtones of coconut and orange cream are balanced by a hint of spice from the ginger.  To us it was the perfect blend of exotic ingredients and it was the star of our sushi dinner.  The Samurai has a great texture and fusion of flavors and is totally unique… you can only find this recipe on RampantCuisine.com!  Check out the full posting for our awesome drink here.

Nathan’s Beer Pairing: Kirin Ichiban

Rating: 7 out of 10

I have always thought Kirin Ichiban was one of the better typical ‘Asian’ beers that you see in grocery stores.  This lager is light, crisp and refreshing – good for summer weather but still more flavorful than its counterparts Asahi, 33, or Sapporo (and any American light beer, but you shouldn’t be drinking that anyways!)

In Japan, the word ‘Kirin’ refers to a mythical creature with the head of a dragon and the body of deer (way to make a dragon seem totally wussy!) which was believed to bring good luck.  ‘Ichiban’ means ‘number one’ and simply describes the single wort, first press brewing process they use.

As you can see, I classed the joint up with a 24 oz. can but don’t worry – it comes in bottles too.

Sushi Rice:

Ingredients-

2 cups short grain/sushi rice
2 cups water
Approximately 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (to taste)
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions-

1. Rinse rice very well. Approximately 6 times or until the water runs completely clear.
2. Cook rice according to rice cooker directions with equal parts water. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
3. Pour su (vinegar mixture) over the rice, gently folding to incorporate.
4. Let rice stand for 10 minutes, then fold again. Allow to cool

Sushi Rolls:

Ingredients-

1 piece Makisu (bamboo Rolling Mat)
Dark Green Nori (dried Seaweed)
Sushi Rice
1/4 pound steamed shrimp
Sashimi grade tuna, thinly sliced
Avocado, thinly Sliced
Cucumber, thinly Sliced
Mango, thinly sliced
Cream Cheese, thinly sliced
Toasted Sesame Seeds

Directions-

First, in order to keep your rice from sticking to the mat, wrap it in plastic cling wrap.

To begin, fold the pieces of nori in half to split them.

Next, lay the half-sheets of nori on the work surface and grab a handful (about a ½ cup) of sushi rice and cover one side of a half-sheet of nori with it. To do so, first set the rice on the end of the nori sheet closest to you. Then, working with your fingertips and/or knuckles, gently spread the rice over the surface of the nori.

We made two sets of rolls; 1/2 had the rice on the outside and 1/2 had the rice on the inside. For the rolls that will have the rice on the outside quickly flip the rice-coated sheet of nori so that the rice side is down. Carefully position it horizontally so it will roll lengthwise. For the rolls that have the nori on the outside, simply begin to lay fillings across the rice.

Choose whatever combination of fillings appeals to you and line up the pieces side by side down the middle of the roll.

To roll the sushi, carefully lift the edge of the mat closest to you, begin rolling the mat away from you, pressing it lightly to keep it firm.  At this point, the end of the roll has been rolled upward, and your very light pressure is ensuring that the roll will remain nice and tight.  Lift up the end of the mat and pull it away from you to release the roll.

Carefully remove the roll from the mat and place it on a cutting board.  At this point you can sprinkle sesame seeds on your rolls if the rice is on the outside.  Slice the roll into small pieces using a very sharp knife.

Don’t forget to enjoy with your soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger slices!

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