Sunday, January 12, 2014

Giant California Rolls

My senior year of undergrad at Berkeley, my best friend there taught me how to roll sushi. It was a really fun experience and tasty. I also tried this raspberry beer called Framboise and I was genuinely surprised that there was a beer out there that I liked. Sometime after that, I invited a bunch of my Vietnamese Student Association friends over to my apartment for a sushi rolling party. We made a lot of different rolls, but primarily imitation crab meat filling if I remember correctly. Every time, we made maki rolls, which are sushi rolls with the nori seaweed sheet on the outside. Recently I wanted to try my hand at making California rolls, where the rice is on the outside, then the nori, and then the fillings on the inside.
Maki sushi on left. California-style sushi on right. source

I prepared the crab filling using canned crab meat this time instead of imitation crab sticks. I simply drained the water from the can of (sustainably caught!) crabmeat, and added 2 Tbs of mayo and about 1/2 to 1 Tbs of Sriracha. I also sprinkled in some lemon pepper seasoning and ground black pepper. Seeing as it was still too moist (I did not drain it that well) and my eyes thought it was not enough meat, I sprinkled in vegetarian pork floss (something like this).
For vegetable fillings, I sliced some avocado, cucumber, and carrots into thin strips. I also washed fresh alfafa sprouts. I just looked up the health benefits of alfafa sprouts. One cup of alfafa sprouts contain about 10% women's DV of vitamin K. It also contains vitamin C and phytoestrogens, which can help reduce risks of heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Alfafa sprouts also contain saponins, compounds linked to reducing LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol - although the site did not say how much saponin a cup of alfafa sprouts contain nor how much saponin is needed to be effective. Nevertheless, alfafa is a green vegetable and is definitely healthier for you than filling up on fatty, meaty fillings!
Ingredients all prepped.
I made the sushi rice using Kokuho Rose brand sushi rice. I washed a cup of rice under water for a while (they recommend doing it till the washing water is clear, but this brand says "No washing necessary", so I only did it briefly), then spread it out to dry for ~30 min along the walls of a colander. After cooking the rice, I mixed 1-1/2 Tbs rice vinegar, 1 Tbs sugar, and 1/2 Tbs salt. I poured the vinegar mixture over the rice and mixed it in with chopsticks. To add something a little extra, I toasted white sesame seeds in my toaster oven and mixed some in as well.

To assemble, you spread the rice in a thin layer on top of a sheet of nori, completely covering the nori. Sprinkle more sesame seeds if desired. Place a plastic sheet on top then flip it over. Place it on a sushi rolling mat and then put the fillings inside. I spooned on 1/4 of the crabmeat, then generously added all the vegetables. I tried rolling it over, but my rolls were not tight and I had forgotten how to correctly roll these, since I had done it so long ago. My rolls ended up looking like sushi burritos! HUGE! I ate two that night, because my friend and I made 3 altogether. I know sushi is not good the next day and did not want to waste those last 4 slices of my sushi.
HUGGGEEE sushi roll
After slicing into 8 pieces.
The nori I got is not that good. I will have to buy a better brand next time. Do any of you have suggestions on good nori for sushi?

Next time, I will definitely read up on the proper sushi rolling technique and also cut my avocados thicker.

In all, after not cooking for a month because of being on winter break at my mom's fully stocked house, it was good to get back into preparing my own meals. And sushi is a great first meal back at school!

Oh, and Happy New Year, everyone!

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