Day 15: Make Sushi

It seems that most every time I have sushi it is a memorable experience. My first time having sushi, I was fed a huge roll that barely fit in my mouth, had soy sauce dripping all down my face, and was fed a huge glob of  nose-burning wasabi. This experience was very interesting.  The second time I was at Kome in Florence, Italy, sipping wine and watching chefs prepare gourmet sushi that they put on a rotating belt, which brought the sushi around the restaurant to me, allowing me to pick and choose the special rolls I wanted. This experience was fabulous. And super expensive. Tonight, I found myself  lying on a table with sushi on my arm and face and slightly sick to my stomach from the sushi I had previously eaten. This experience was probably the best.

Allow me to give you the full story of tonight’s sushi-making extravaganza. Let’s start at the beginning. I am not a fan of sushi. In fact, the more I eat it, the more I realize that I should stop trying to like it. Now, even though I don’t like sushi, there is something about the act of making it that I’ve always been fascinated with. I just always thought it would be so much fun and that, if you could make it properly, you could make it beautiful! So I put it on my list, and made my almost-sushi-making-dream become a reality. Finding someone to make it with me was not difficult at all. My sister, Beck loves sushi! And apparently, as I found out tonight, has been dreaming about making sushi since she started eating solid foods at age 1. I had found my sushi partner. The past few days I’ve been researching different recipes, sushi essentials and sushi-making procedures just to make sure that I had this right. I found out that, like yoga, sushi is a whole world of its own! There are not only hundreds of different types and variations of sushi rolls, but there are also many different, very precise procedures on how to make it! There is even a crazy procedure to make the sushi rice that you use to make the sushi! And don’t even get me started on the specific sushi-making tools! I for sure thought that this was going to be near impossible, so instead of trying to take it all in I decided to fall back on my ‘first-shown, first taken’ rule. That is, when I type something into Google, I take the first three results and go with them, as if nothing else exists.  This left me with MakeMySushi, Mahalo, and imakesushi. The one I used the most (and suggest) was MakeMySushi.

I figured that my grocery bill could get quite high if I wanted to make multiple kinds of rolls so I narrowed it down to one. We were going to make the California Roll. It was simple, only needing crab, cucumber and avocado. And I didn’t even let myself think about wanting to buy a rolling mat or hangiri. God gave me two hands and hopefully I could use them to roll evenly. So I bought my ingredients- the Nori sheets were the most expensive coming to$1 per sheet (which makes about 12 small rolls), and they usually come in boxes of 5 or 10. These are the thin, green, seaweed sheets that you see rolled up with the rice.

Fast forward to tonight. First we needed to prepare the rice. Sushi rice, I have learned, is not just normal white rice and cannot be prepared as normal white rice. This rice is made with short-grain rice and has a seasoning mixture on it. When reading about this procedure of making the sushi rice, I was confused. I kept reading about ‘fumes’ and keeping it ‘outside if they get too bad’ and then ‘cooling it with a hand-held fan’. Every website seemed to mention using a fan to cool down your rice! Well, I thought, my rice is not going to be high-maintenance and will do just fine cooling down the old-fashioned way. It wasn’t until I started cooking this sushi rice that I realized all my worst website nightmares were coming true! The mixture I made for the rice consisted of sugar, salt and rice vinegar. There it is. That last ingredient. That is what caused the infamous ‘fumes’. And these were not normal vinegar fumes, these were rice vinegar fumes. The deadly kind. Oh my goodness, it reeked! It was so strong we did at one point keep it outside! And then there was the cooling of the rice. We were supposed to add the mixture while the rice was cooling down, not hot, but not cold. Because it wasn’t cooling down fast enough, we fanned. Beck got out a spoon to turn the rice while I got a thick envelope to fan it. So my rice ended up being high-maintenance after all. Surprisingly, even with the smelly concoction poured on it, the rice tasted really good. For now.

Next step, we cut up the avocado, cucumber, and crab into small strips and chunks to put in our sushi rolls, and cut the Nori sheets in half. Figuring out how to half the sheets, like the directions tell you too, so that we would be able to roll and cut them properly was an ordeal in itself, but we worked it out. And so our sushi-making begun. We covered our seaweed with the rice (which by this point had started to get really sticky) and flipped it over, lining up our strips of goodies waiting to be rolled. My sister looked at mine and burst out laughing, telling me I had way to much stuff in it and would never get it rolled, which was wrong. I rolled mine up like a pro and when I cut it, I had nice, plump rolls. While I was rolling my sushi up, my sister started cutting hers until she had 5 little sushi rolls on her plate, looking like they had come from a restaurant (ok, almost). Upon placing her last roll, she started jumping up and down like a 5-year old screaming and clapping, “I made sushi! I actually made it! I can’t believe it! It looks so good!” And this is when I found out she’d been dreaming about making sushi, something she said she always thought was hard and not very feasible for someone at home. At least I can say I made someone’s dream come true tonight, right?

Our sushi was completed and we were ready to eat it. We took some bites. It was good. Not great, but good. I don’t like sushi so I have no problem saying that mine was gross, but Beck said she liked it. That was until about 3 rolls in. And then the stomach-ache hit us. It wasn’t really an ache, just a queasy-ness. A sticky, unsettled-ness. The culprit? My high-maintenance sushi rice. I don’t know if it was the texture (it had gone from really sticky to extremely sticky), the flavor (maybe a little too much seasoning), or the weight of the white goo sitting in the bottom of our stomachs, but we decided to let the rest of our sushi go uneaten. And this is where the part of me lying on the table comes in. In the movie, Sex and the City, Samantha decides to go all out for her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. So by the end of the night she is lying on the table covered in home-made sushi. Her plan doesn’t go so well as she ends up lying there for hours with a no-show boyfriend.  Apparently, Beck and I had been thinking about this scene the whole day but never mentioned it. That is, until we had a plate of uneaten sushi rolls at our disposal. Before I knew it, she had convinced me to lay on the table so she could put the sushi on me and we could live a moment in honor of Samantha. I now have dried tears and rice goo in my hair, on my face, and on my arm, but the experience of lying on the table laughing so hard sushi was falling into my hair is one I’ll never forget. It was a great sushi night.

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