Chef Anne Feinman
When I first started out on my sushi adventure, sitting at the sushi bar was a bit scary. I didn’t know how to order anything other than a California Roll and the knife-wielding sushi chef was intimidating. But one day, I got brave, and sauntered up to a sushi bar. It was well worth the effort and I promise it will be the same for you. Bring a friend or two if it might seem too much of a challenge. The fun part of leaving the safety of your table is that you never know what the sushi chef is going to serve you at the sushi bar.
There are three ways to place an order:
Okimar – this is Japanese for “it’s been decided”. The sushi chef will serve you a selection of sushi that he chooses at a set price. Everything is served at once.
Okonomi – this is Japanese for “as I like it”. You get to choose from a selection of fish that is available that day. It is served one-by-one. At a sushi bar the sushi is usually nigiri (hand-formed rectangles of sushi rice with a slice of raw fish placed on top).
Omakase – this is Japanese for “I leave it up to you”. This is where the chef gets to impress you with his best ingredients. He decides in what order your sushi will be served. Choose this option if you’re not concerned about the price.
If you chose “okonomi” or “omakase” the chef will place your nigiri on a wooden stand named a “geta”. He will also include a small mound of pickled ginger which is meant to cleanse your palate. Sushi restaurants also include a mound of wasabi (horseradish). This is not done in Japan, because the chef already places a small amount between the fish and rice.
You will also get a small bottle of soy sauce for dipping. Pick up your nigiri with your fingers and pop the whole thing in your mouth. Don’t use chopsticks because this will break your sushi. If you plan to use soy sauce flip it over and dip the fish side into the sauce. This way the rice won’t crumble into the saucer. If you’re tempted to mix wasabi into your soy sauce… Don’t do it! They don’t do this in Japan because, as mentioned above, the chef has already placed a bit of this horseradish on your nigiri.
Sashimi is slices of raw fish. It is usually served with a side of wasabi and you are supposed to eat it with chopsticks. Just don’t rub them together …it shows bad manners. It’s considered an insult by the sushi chef!
If you are a beginner when it comes to sushi, there is always a logical starting point. Here are a few basic rolls that you can easily eat and make even if you don’t have access to sushi grade fish.
The first roll is the cucumber roll. This roll is about as basic as it can get. It is made of short grain sushi rice, nori seaweed paper, and cucumber strips. Basically you add the prepared rice to the nori paper and use your sushi kit to roll it up. Make sure you have a very sharp knife to cut your roll or else the rice may stick to it.
Another great sushi recipe for beginners is the California roll. The California roll is made of short grain sushi rice, nori seaweed paper, sesame seeds, strips of imitation crab meat, mayonnaise, avocado and cucumber strips. First, apply the rice evenly on the nori. Then flip the nori over and add your imitation crab meat which has been shredded and mixed with the mayonnaise onto the nori. After you have laid the crab meat onto the roll you can then add the cucumber strips. Because you flipped the roll after adding the rice, the nori is going to be on the inside so the crab meat and the sushi rice will all be on the outside. The final step is to add the finely cut avocado to the top of the roll.
There is a big difference when it comes to preparing normal rice and short grain white “sticky” rice. Nowadays people go out and buy fancy rice steamers to make their sushi rice, but the reality is you can make perfect sushi rice at home with the pots you already have. The most important thing you need to know is that in order to make perfect sticky rice you need to buy a medium or short grained rice. The long grain rice is not as starchy and therefore will not give you the final product of sticky rice.
You will need the following ingredients to successfully make a quality sticky rice.
• 4 tbsp rice vinegar
• 4 tbsp sugar
• 1 tsp of salt
These ingredients season the sushi rice. Mix the three ingredients in a saucepan and stir the mixture over low heat until you see the ingredients dissolve. Once you have an even mixture you can set this aside and let it cool down.
Ingredients for the sticky rice… this will make around 3-4 rolls of sushi.
• 2 cups raw rice (short or med. grain)
• 2 cups water
First you want to clean the rice. To do so you will put the rice in a large bowl and add water. Toss the rice around in the bowl of water then dump the water out. You will need to repeat this step as many times as necessary until the water becomes clear and the rice is completely clean. Now that your rice is clean go ahead and add your two cups of rice with 2 cups of water. Bring this to a boil on medium heat for 15- 20 minutes. Next, you will want to remove the pan from the heat and remove the cover. Then take a clean kitchen towel or clean cotton tea towel and stretch it over the rice and allow it to steam off of the heat for another 15 minutes. Now that your rice has steamed properly use a wooden spoon (if available) to gently fold the rice over in a mixing motion. You want to be careful when doing this because you don’t want to bruise the rice so try to avoid a stirring motion.
When your rice is done cooking add it to a bowl with your seasoning mixture and mix it with the rice using the same folding method used before. After you have mixed the rice and the seasoning together you want to let it cool for another 15 minutes. If you aren’t going to prepare the sushi rolls immediately, you can place a towel over the rice and it will keep it moist until you are ready to make your roll.
Make it an adventure…and enjoy your creativity!
Join Chef Annie and Chef Greg at the newest addition to Mango’s Dockside Bistro…Mango’s Sushi Bar at The Esplanade. Open every evening 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM. We are sure to please each and every one of you, with this newest addition to our waterside restaurant!