Sunday, March 10, 2013
Recipe: Modified from "Sushi Salmon Cured in Kelp (Sake no kobu-jime)" from "The Sushi Experience" by Hiroko Shimbo". I also used recipes for "Yuzu-Flavored Ponzu Sauce (Ponzu)", "Master Recipe for Sushi Rice", "Sushi Vinegar Dressing", "Sashimi Cutting Techniques, Presentation, and Garnishes" from the same book.
Status: Made once.
Sushi for a weeknight: This recipe was developed as part of my effort to find meals that can be made on a busy weeknight. I've made sushi before, but what kick started my latest sushi efforts was the idea in "Japanese Farm Food" by Nancy Singleton Hachisu that there are ways to prepare sushi that are so quick, easy, and affordable that they can be a weeknight meal. For example, if you already have ponzu sauce then this recipe that I have developed is really quick since there is no need to roll sushi rolls or shape the rice to make nigiri, which can be really time consuming. Making sushi rice with a rice cooker is quick and easy, since you just need to wash the rice, start the rice cooker, and then spend 2 minutes tossing the rice with the vinegar dressing. Two types of sushi fish (about 0.25 pounds each) with sushi rice is enough for dinner for William and I; this amount of fish usually costs about $15 from Super Mira Market. I know stopping at speciality markets on the way home is difficult or even impossible for many, but if you are lucky enough to have access to a Japanese grocery store with high quality sushi fish, then this is sushi that you can make as a weeknight meal and for much cheaper than going to a restaurant.
This recipe is based off of sushi salmon cured in kelp with ponzu radish sprout salad, but I used plain salmon sashimi since I like raw salmon best. Salmon is actually not a traditional sushi ingredient since it does not live in the waters near Tokyo, where sushi was invented. It started being used by sushi chefs in the United States and then became popular in Japan because of its association with America and modernity. I love raw salmon so that's fine with me.
I served it with sushi rice underneath (chirashi, meaning sushi rice decorated or tossed a bowl with other ingredients or literally "scattered sushi") so that it makes a complete meal. Handrolls can also be made at the table by diners; I have fun eating this both ways at the table. But since it is a light meal, you may also want another type of sashimi, miso soup, or an appetizer for dinner. You can use your favorite fish or use two types of sashimi to make this more filling.
The top picture shows, clockwise starting at the top left: rice vinegar (jun komezu, which has a golden color because it is pure rice vinegar), rice (akitakomachi, which is a type of koshihikari, a short grained Japanese rice grown in Japan), a wooden sushi tub (sushi-oke, used for tossing the sushi rice with rice vinegar and keeping it warm and moist when it is covered with a lid or towel), homemade ponzu sauce, salt, sugar, sushi quality salmon, and daikon radish sprouts (kaiware). The types of these ingredients were chosen based on Hiroko Shimbo's recommendations for ingredients in "The Sushi Experience"; I highly recommend her book especially for the sections about exactly what type of ingredients to buy and how to buy sushi fish. The rice, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt are used to make the sushi vinegar dressing that is tossed with the rice (see Sushi Vinegar Dressing). The rest of the ingredients are used in the recipe below.
Always make sure that you buy sushi fish that has been properly handled for sushi (e.g. fish that has been instantly killed with little stress, hygienically gutted, bled, and immediately cooled or frozen) if you want to eat it raw. Fresh does not mean it is safe for sushi because it could have been hours before it was cooled. Sushi as we know it--that is with raw fish--didn't start in Japan until after WWII, when there were refrigerators and freezers which were able to safely preserve and transport raw fish. Many Japanese markets have sushi fish cut for sashimi and in little Styrofoam trays with a liner underneath to absorb moisture which are stored in a separate refrigerator case from the fish meant to be cooked. Most American seafood markets don't carry sushi fish; ask the fishmonger if the fish you are buying is safe to eat raw and go to a seafood market that you trust because if it hasn't been handled correctly (i.e. not kept cold or frozen) than it isn't sushi quality anymore. It is especially important that your sushi salmon has been correctly handled for sushi since salmon (especially wild salmon) is often infested with parasites that will sicken humans (farmed salmon has a lower chance of parasites). Sushi salmon always under goes a special deep freezing stage in order to kill parasites (your home freezer is not cold enough). Do not eat raw salmon that hasn't been deep frozen for use as sushi, so do ask your salmon is safe to eat raw.
I like to buy all of my fresh ingredients (i.e. sushi fish, vegetables) from Super Mira Market; they have great quality sushi fish, nice produce, a nice Japanese deli, and high quality organic or locally made versions of many Japanese products. For durable staples such as rice, nori, and rice vinegar, I prefer Nijiya Market because they have a large selection and many of their products are imported from Japan. The store helpfully labels items; for instance my rice vinegar does not have "jun komezu" written in English on the bottle but Nijiya had the English name written on the product's shelf tag. Both of these stores are located within a block or two of each other in Japantown in San Francisco, so it is easy to stop at multiple stores. See Bay area sources for ingredients for more information.
sushi rice, made from 1.5 to 2 rice cooker cups
salmon sashimi, about 1/4 pound or a little bit more
1 package daikon radish sprouts (kaiware) *
1 Tbsp ponzu sauce (see accompanying recipe here)
soy sauce (shoyu) or extra ponzu sauce
4 to 6 sheets of nori **
(optional) pickled ginger
little dishes for dipping sashimi in soy sauce
Rinse the salmon in cold water and then pat dry with a paper towel. Use a knife to square off the piece of salmon so that it is a long straight rectangle about 2 1/2 inches x 5 inches x 1 inch. Save the trimmings and some sushi rice to make hand rolls or sushi rolls (they look very pretty with some daikon radish sprouts, either plain or with ponzu). Cut slices that are 1/4 inch thick or slightly less by cutting straight down vertically.
Cut the sprouts from their roots. If they are dirty, then wash and dry them thoroughly (I didn't need to). For the prettiest plating, be sure to keep the bottom ends all facing the same way.
Mix the sprouts with ponzu sauce in a small bowl; the bowl is so that extra ponzu sauce doesn't dribble unattractively over the sushi rice since homemade ponzu sauce has a very thin consistency. If this doesn't bother you, feel free to place the sprouts directly on the sushi rice and drizzle ponzu sauce over or have your diners drizzle ponzu sauce (ponzu sauce tastes really nice on rice). If you happen to be serving this dish without any sushi rice, then you can put the raw sprouts in the serving dish and drizzle the ponzu sauce over without tossing.
Spoon the sushi rice into two bowls. Top each bowl with half the salad and half of the salmon sashimi. Serve with soy sauce or extra ponzu sauce, wasabi, nori, and optionally pickled ginger.
half sheets of nori to make handrolls or use quarter sheets to wrap a bite of salmon, rice, and sprouts as you are eating this dish at the table (go to the link to see how to make handrolls).
* Daikon radish sprouts are a very spicy tasting green, similar to arugula's pepperiness I like to eat just a few sprouts at a time, by themselves, with a bite of rice, or added into a handroll. William thinks they are a bit too spicy for him; if you think they will be too spicy for you, then you can mix them with other types of mild sprouts or substitue a mild sprout or lettuce.
** Nori comes in several levels of crispiness Handrolls are best when they are made from very crispy nori. For this dish, if you can, choose one that is very crispy and tender (mine has a crispness indicator of 3 out of 3, where 3 is the most crispy) which the package says is for hand rolls. If there is no text which indicates crispiness, choose a package which has a picture closest to what you want to make, since the packages usually depict what that type of nori is best used for. I choose nori from Ariake Bay in Japan, which is one of the places Hiroko Shimbo recommends. American grocery stores seem to have a limited selection of nori and don't seem to have various levels of crispiness. I haven't bought this nori but it is probably ok (it might just be less crispy and tender than great quality nori), especially if you like the taste. She also recommends buying small packages with only 10 sheets rather than the bulk packages, since the nori loses its crispness once the package is opened, even if you keep it tightly sealed.
The sashimi platter in the picture below was bought from Super Mira Market in San Francisco (my favorite place to buy sushi quality fish); it isn't my own work.