Sushi has been a common food in Japan for over one hundred years now, and its origins can be traced back to ancient China and before that, Vietnam. The word “sushi” does not refer to the raw fish used in making the dishes but rather refers to the vinegary rice used in the rolls and other recipes. Sushi started out as a street food sold by vendors in the form of hand rolls which are conical sushi rolls made by wrapping dried seaweed around sushi rice and your choice of fillings, such as fish and vegetables. This led to the popularity of sushi increasing to the point that sushi bars called “sushi-ya” became the typical place where you would find sushi on the menu.
These days the most popular type of fish used for sushi in Japan is Bluefin tuna that before the 1970’s was not used for sushi at all. This is because of thought going back to the samurai period that tuna was an inferior type of fish and should not be eaten. In the last 50 years that has changed completely and now Bluefin tuna is considered by scientists to be a potential endangered species, which has been fished to near extinction in the Mediterranean Sea and could be extinct worldwide within a few years from now.
The California roll was created in the 70’s in Los Angeles by a chef at the Tokyo Kaikan restaurant by the name of Manashita Ichiro. Ichiro found that Americans were not interested in eating raw fish which would be found in traditional sushi recipes in Japan. So, Ichiro made an Americanized version of traditional Japanese sushi rolls that used cooked imitation crab meat, avocado, and cucumber as a filling, and sushi rice around those ingredients with dried seaweed as a wrapper. The California roll was born and became a hit all over America.
With the spread of sushi all over the world and the ingredients used to make sushi becoming available to many more people, it is possible to make healthy and tasty sushi at home.
To make sushi, you will need the following equipment and ingredients:
-A sushi knife.
-A bamboo rolling mat.
-A cutting board.
-Several seaweed sheets, called nori.
-A pot to cook rice in.
-Wooden spoon for spreading rice.
-Some plastic wrap.
-Six tablespoons of rice vinegar.
-Two tablespoons of granulated sugar.
-Two teaspoons of salt.
-Three cups of Japanese sushi rice.
-Four cups of water.
-Two or three avocados.
-Fresh squeezed lemon juice.
-Cooked imitation crab meat.
-Some pickled ginger.
-Some soy sauce.
The first step is to make the sushi rice, and this is also the most difficult step. Making sushi rice takes practice to get right, and your first few times the sushi might look a little strange, but will still be edible.
It will take a couple of hours to prepare the rice before you start making rolls.
-Mix the six tablespoons of rice vinegar with the sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves let the vinegar cool.
-Wash the rice until the water is no longer cloudy, soak rice in a saucepan for half an hour.
-Drain rice and add to a pot with four cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer covered for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
-Move rice to a bowl and use a wooden spoon to break up the clumps, don’t stir or the rice will be damaged. Never use metal in contact with sushi rice because it ruins the flavor.
-Pour the rice vinegar solution over the rice and work in until the rice is a little damp.
-Cover the bowl of rice with a towel and let it cool.
-Slice the filling ingredients lengthwise and set to the side.
-Place a sheet of dried seaweed shiny side down on the bamboo rolling mat and put some rice on the seaweed. Carefully spread the rice over the seaweed in a thin layer.
-Make a trough in the rice and place the filling ingredients in the trough.
-Use the bamboo rolling mat to roll the ingredients together.
-Place the long roll on a cutting board and slice into eight sections.
Serve your healthy, homemade California rolls with wasabi and pickled ginger as garnishes, and a dish of soy sauce for dipping.
After you get some practice in making rolls, try using other fillings! Enjoy!