The Story of Sushi from Bamboo Sushi on Vimeo.
When I became a vegetarian, the animal flesh I most missed eating was seafood.
This might be because a lot of pork, beef and chicken products are well imitated with various meat substitutes, and easily replaced with items like tofu and beans.
But I have yet to find anything that stands in for a nice salmon fillet or sashimi sampler. I’d only come to know and love sushi in the couple years before going veggie, and it had become a significant part of my diet. More than bacon, more than chicken and yes, even more than steak, I missed eating fishies.
Now that I’m a pescetarian, and allow myself a little seafood now and then, I not only satisfy that hunger, but am no doubt doing better when it comes to my protein and omega-3s (not because there are no non-animal sources for these, but because it was an area of vegetarianism I was less than stellar at). Going out for East Asian food is a little more fun as I get to peruse more options (and even more after I’m done being pregnant), and am able to try the selections my dining partners have made.
Of course, now I have to think about the ethics of eating seafood. While the above video has a very direct message with a very specific agenda, it reminded me that seafood, while great for my health, can be just as devastating to the ecosystem. I have a lot to learn.
In the meantime, I encourage you to try sushi if you have not already. It does not have to contain raw fish – or any fish at all – but I assure you that the uncooked fish they use in sushi does not taste one bit icky. In fact, I find it to be far milder than cooked fish. Most of the fishy taste actually comes from the seaweed wrapping (also not completely necessary).
If you want to try making sushi rolls at home, be aware that there is an art to it. But it’s fun to try. Here’s an easy recipe (very simplified):
- Sushi mat
- Plastic wrap
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Cooked rice – ideally brown (you can prepare actual sushi rice, but we’ve enjoyed plain rice as well)
- Nori seaweed
- Raw salmon or tuna, sliced into long, thin strips – optional. If you do this, be certain to use “sushi grade”.
- Shredded carrot
- Avocado – cut into long, thin strips
- Cream cheese – sliced into long, thin strips
- Cucumber – cut into long, thin strips
- Low sodium soy sauce
- Pickled ginger
- Place the sushi mat flat with a layer of plastic wrap covering the entire mat.
- Put one nori sheet on top of the plastic wrap, centering it on the mat.
- Spread a layer of rice over the half/two-thirds of the nori sheet closest to you, using water and a spoon to make sure it’s spread evenly. Be sure not to layer it too thickly.
- Make a row of “filling” about 3/4 inch in from the edge of the rice closest to you. Use the long strips of fish, shredded bits of carrot and strips of avocado, cream cheese and cucumber to make a horizontal line that will be the center of the sushi roll.
- Now for the rolling (read: hard part). Use the sushi mat to roll the rice and filling within the nori, folding the edge closest to you over the food and away from you. Be sure not to roll the sushi mat into the roll itself, using one hand to pull the top side out and away from you.
- Apply pressure to the mat as you roll it to make the sushi roll tight and compact.
- Once the nori has completely encased the rice and filling, and met the other edge of the nori sheet, open the mat. Use a little water to make the nori edges stick to each other.
- Place your roll on the cutting board and slice it into six to eight pieces. Rinse the knife with water between each slice to avoid stickage.
Put some of the soy sauce in a small dish, and make a fancy garnish with the ginger and wasabi. I like to dissolve a little wasabi into my soy sauce; just be careful as too much wasabi can pack a heat that will give you the hiccups and make breathing a bit tough. I am not overly fond of the ginger, but a lot of people love to add a small piece to each bite of sushi.