Saturday, August 7, 2010

Back in The Saddle Again!

Sorry for the long hiatus folks, It's been crazy in the Cookin'Mama household for many weeks! Maintaining a household, running two totally separate businesses and chasing a baby around is omega work! So showing of my cooking prowess (or lack there of sometimes) had taken a wayyy back seat. Add to the fact that it took the movers FOREVER to deliver my kitchen, and you see where cooking get slowed down tremendously! For weeks I had to make due with just 2 or 3 pots to cook in. I have been in culinary hell I tell you! No Wolfgang Puck in sight, I made due with whatever we managed to find at the supermarket.

Long story short is...I'm back and I hope you are as well!

From My Kitchen to Yours.....Let's get cooking...(again)!

Japan Mom!

That's the latest name I have been given by my family..and it's all because of my latest exploits in the Daidokoro (台所;lit. "kitchen")! Let me give you some background......

I'm an avid lover of Asian food, seriously...I can't get enough of it. From Thai to Japan, it's all scrumptious to me. Sometimes I wish I could travel around like Andrew Zimmern! He has the most amazing job! So anyway....a few days ago I brought home some California rolls from the supermarket to have for lunch (I know...ewww! but in my defense this supermarket had a sushi chef station.. ok). Well after the family devoured the rolls, my husband teased me by saying "wow babe, these rolls are good....too bad you can't make these"........................If you know me....or even of me, then you know telling me I can't do something only makes me mad, and then I just have to achieve whatever you said I couldn't do....('s an Aries thing & yeah..I get tricked into doing tons of So I huffed and puffed how he was wrong and how I could cook anything if given the proper materials. Well... He quickly fired back about my long unused makisu (巻き簾) is a mat woven from bamboo and cotton string) & and other Asian cookware laying dormant in their respective boxes. 

Well what do you think I said??? I backed down and vowed to make his favorite rolls! It took me an hour to find the local Japanese supermarket around here...but I lucked out, and found this truly amazing spot! It had everything I needed and more to chump him..^_^. I should have took pictures of this place just like I did in Koreatown in NYC. But I'll leave that for another time.

Fast forward to crunch time....

Here's what you need..............This is the recipe I followed

Ingredients for 5 California Rolls [40 pieces]: 

1 English Cucumber - remove seeds and cut into strip - 10 cm long and 1/2 cm thick [leave the skin on... looks great in your roll]
200g Imitation Crab Sticks - Oosaki brand is our preferred choice - North American product should be squeezed to remove excess water
2 Avocados - Haas is the best - not to ripe [buy them green/hard and wrap in newspaper for 24 hours] peel and cut into wedges
5 Half sheets of Nori - Takaokaya Gold and Yamamotoyama Gold are excellent - Full sheets are to be halved width-wise by folding and then carefully pulling the sheet apart
50g Toasted Sesame Seeds - Buy Black and White for a decorative touch
50g Tobiko [flying fish roe] - You may use Masago but tobiko is a superior product - pick a color... a good Japanese food store will offer many colors. Our shop has red, orange, green wasabi, black, and gold.
Tezu Prepare a small bowl of water mixed with a small amount of unsweetened Rice Vinegar for moistening your finger tips [not your whole hands... we try to only use our fingertips!]
Wasabi and Japanese Mayonnaise [Optional Ingredients - QP is the best]
Let's Get Started
Place a sheet of cellophane wrap - same size as your rolling mat on your sudare [bamboo rolling mat]. Cool your hands down under a cold running water tap and dry your hands [cold hands will sweat less and stick less to your rice].

Dip your fingers in your Tezu and wave your hands to remove excess water. Take some rice with your finger tips [10 cm round ball]. Place the rice ball in the center of the wrap and gently distribute the rice the width of your nori sheet and 5 cm longer then then your sheet of seaweed. Don't work your rice too much [if you smash your rice grains you are pressing too hard].

Center your nori sheet on the sheet of rice. You may now fill your roll.

Almost Ready
Place a row of avocado wedges length-wise in the center of your nori sheet. Your nori should cover the entire rice sheet side to side and towards you. The extra 5 cm rice should be open along width-wise away from you [leave some room on the sides of your nori so the filling doesn't get squeezed out].

Put the cucumber strips alongside your avocado and do likewise with your crab sticks. Lay a strip of Japanese mayonnaise and/or wasabi.

Start To Roll
Roll the side nearest you to form a center core of ingredients surrounded by nori [there should be that 5 cm band of rice left after your nori].

Pull out you wrap at the end of your roll and overlap your ingredients roll over the last band of rice. By pulling and lightly squeezing your mat, form your roll circular or triangular-wise [gently hold your ingredient in on the ends while manipulating your roll].

Gently set your roll to the side and spread sesame seeds and/or tobiko on your cellophane wrap with your mat underneath. Re-position your roll on the cellophane and gently re-form your roll to embed slightly your outside ingredients. Carefully move your mat to one end of your roll to shape the end of your roll [a small amount of your ingredients squeezed out is normal... too much means your squeezing too much].

Cut & Serve
Cut your roll into 8 pieces. Your knife must be very sharp [a Yanagiba sushi knife is ideal... it is available in our online store].

Place the tip of your knife into your bowl of Tezu. Invert your knife to a vertical position and tap the butt end of your knife and let the water flow along the blade to the tip. This will insure that your rice does not stick to your knife. Place your roll on a cutting board and cut your roll in half [leave the cellophane on!].

Halve your pieces again and once more and remove the cellophane wrap and voila! 8 delicious California rolls.

This was soo much fun to make! Here are some things I left out.....
-I didnt use the Toasted Sesame Seeds
-I used tenzu on my palm as well as my fingers.....that rice is sticky!!
- I also used some tomago [たまご] egg in mine.
To complete the meal I added some from frozen gyoza and shumai...oh yeah...and some red bean Ice cream! Next time I'll make the shumai from scratch too!

All in all this meal was deemed a huge success by my family. Guess I have to keep making the rolls until I run out of ingredients!

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