I have to say I am quite spoiled when it comes to the ability to buy a wide variety of foods/ingredients whenever I want. If I want Chinese ingredients, I just go into a Chinese supermarket, if I want Japanese ingredients, I go to a Japanese supermarket, if I want stuff from other parts of the world, I’m sure there’s a supermarket I can visit to get those as well. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be living in an area where there are so many different types of food and cultures that if I wanted to eat, cook, or see any of those things, it’s all readily available. I admit, sometimes I take these things for granted.
Last weekend there was a Ramen Festival/JPop Summit in Japantown in SF, it was total madness. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless you have a real desire to be stuck in a huge crowd of people. There were so many people you’re just stuck. Not slow moving stuck but just flat out, bring a chair and sit, stuck. I was excited for the Ramen (of course its food driven) but when I arrived and found out how long the lines were, first I was disappointed and then decided it was totally not worth the wait. It was a 3 hour line just to get to the ordering part, who knows how long it’d be before you actually get to eat?! That’s too much effort not to mention I usually like to enjoy my noodles in a much more relaxed environment. So instead my friend and I ventured off to the food trucks section and picked up some Japanese onigiri (Japanese rice balls) which didn’t go any faster but luckily I got to watch them make it so I was distracted enough. After 45 minutes of waiting, we got our food and 5 minutes later ... all was devoured. Such a long wait and it was so short lived. While I was there watching them make it, I thought to myself “That seems easy enough, I’m going to make my own. Forget waiting 45 minutes in line! I’ll have it done in 10 and then I’ll get to enjoy it quicker and in the comforts of my own home! Yup, it’s decided.”
Of course I was ecstatic about the idea and this is how sad I sound sometimes but I couldn’t wait for the morning to come so that I could go to the store and get all the ingredients I’d need for this experiment… waking up at 7am did not help. Unlike me, most places are not up and running until at least 8 or 9am. Anyways when I finally gathered all my goodies at Mistuwa Supermarket in San Jose, I was ready to rock and roll (no pun intended…)!
30 minutes later… this onigiri project was a lot harder than I had imagined. I was not coordinating the seaweed size with my rice triangle very well and either I’d run out of seaweed wrap OR have too much wrap… needless to say, first attempt fail. By this time I was getting hungry and my mom was starting to come into the kitchen to start dinner and sees the seaweed wraps and said “Oh! Sushi!” Well that was not my intention but after 5 more minutes of struggle, I gave up and turned it into a sushi project. Given I’ve never made that before either, it’s not a bad trade off, not to mention I already have all the ingredients AND no more trying to size the seaweed wraps! Just roll with it! Ha! Ha…Yah I’m lame, whatever.
Rolling your own sushi is unbelievably easy and fun! Giving them silly names is the best part, well aside from getting to get them later. If you don’t own that bamboo mat that you see people rolling sushi with, no fear! One thing I learned from watching lots of sushi chefs, use plastic wrap! They don’t stick and you can just peel them right off the roll. Now drum roll please…. Here are my own personal creations:
The Hot Mess:
spicy shrimp and crab meat (mayo and sriracha hot sauce), avocado, and tuna
Chicken breast, avocado, (cucumber would be a nice touch too), and takoyaki mayo sauce.
Real crab meat with daikon radish shreds mixed with spicy mayo, imitation crab meat with wasabi mayo (or can substitute with yogurt dip)
The Raw Raw
Salmon, tuna, and avocado
Cutting the sushi is tricky business unless you have a really sharp knife which I didn’t so I used a pair of kitchen shears and snipped along the seaweed wrap all the way round and then finally giving it one huge clean snip thru the middle. Now if you have neither, by keeping it in the plastic wrap, it should also make it easier to cut thru as well but with this method you’re also going through a lot more plastic wrap too… This last suggestion is only speculation, I’ve never tried it that way and I’ve only seen it at sushi places…but thought I’d throw that out there anyways.