You know how when you have sushi and it doesn’t taste like just rice and seaweed and raw fish? Yeah, that’s probably the reason we keep eating it, because as appetizing as the thought of eating an ocean soaked in China’s starch staple sounds, it’s not.
Sushi can either be refined art, think Jiro Dreams of Sushi, or something as casual as a taco cart. The problem with eating at Japanese restaurants for those with Celiac Disease is that soy sauce is made with wheat traditionally, and most preparations might have a touch of it as it replaces salt in most Asian cuisines. The problem with making sushi at home, then, would be that rice cooked in just water never seems to taste like “sushi rice” and finding sushi grade quality fish may not be possible in your area.
The thing is, making gluten-free sushi at home is really quite easy. What’s more, you know the products you’re using are to your standards (because you bought them) and you have creative liberty to replace salmon with tofu if you’re vegetarian, or add some fun flavors like mango and cilantro if you’re seeking some peppppps.
The other day I have rice and leftover dried seaweed from an experiment a few weeks prior. I had leftover bits and pieces of smoked salmon, and no interest to go grocery shopping. I had forgotten how much I love the convenience (and price tag) of making sushi at home. The difference, for me, is in the rice.
Ingredients: 1 cup short grain eastern rice variety (preferably deemed sushi rice, either brown or white– basmati will do in a pinch if you’re really stuck), 1 1/2 cups + 1/4 cup water, 2 tsp. rice or white wine or apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp. agave nectar, 1/2 tsp. powdered wasabi (optional, but highly recommended)
Method: Bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil. Lightly salt water, add rice, stir just once, skim foam off top using a spoon, cover, and reduce heat to low to simmer for about 30-35 minutes. Once water is absorbed, taste rice to make sure it is cooked enough. If not, add about 2 tbs. more water, cover, and let steam another 5-10 minutes until water is absorbed and rice is cooked al dente. Remove from heat. Keep covered. In small sauce pan, bring 1/4 cup water, vinegar and agave nectar to a boil. Let bubble about 30 seconds, remove from heat. Whisk in wasabi powder (optional, but recommended). Using a large flat spoon, stir syrup into cooked rice gently. This gentle stirring serves two purposes: it covers the rice in flavor and it also gently releases the starches while it slowly cools down the rice for optimal texture and binding properties. Let rice cool to room temperature before using it in your sushi.
Great. I’ve got my rice. WhaaadooIdoooNow? You get to play with your food! Maki Sushi refers to the type where the seaweed is on the outside. This type is really convenient to make at home, as you don’t even need a sushi rolling mat or plastic sheet wrap.
Ingredients: 2 sheets dried seaweed (available at most grocery stores in the Asian section or at Asian specialty stores), 1 preparation sushi rice (see above), cooked protein/smoked fish/sushi grade raw fish/vegetable of choice cut into long thin cubes, optional additional vegetables cut into thin/julienne size strips (cucumber, mango, carrots, jicama, etc.)
Method: Lay dried seaweed flat on a clean cutting board. Cover all of it with a thin layer of sushi rice, leaving about 1″ (3 cm) gap at one of the ends (see photo at the top). On the opposite side of the seaweed, 2″ (6 cm) in from the edge lay out your toppings. Ready to roll? Gently brush a tiny bit of water on the edge of the sushi not covered with rice (this serves as glue). Like rolling up a sleeping bag, start with the rice-covered side and cover the filling. Keep going, and as you completely roll your filling into the rice and seaweed, pull so that it’s snug and compact. Roll until it touches the other end, where you will press slightly firmly to seal the dry sushi to the wet sushi, where the added water will act like glue. To serve, using a sharp chef’s knife, cut into desired piece sizes and serve with tamari, pickled ginger, and wasabi if you’ve got it.
If you wanna get fun, try difference variations, like using last night’s fried chicken with a touch of tamari to give it some Asian flavor. Making your own sushi may take a few practice rounds to see the exact amount of rice vs. filling, but you can always start over and reuse your rice and protein. Dried seaweed is cheap as Monday, so don’t feel bad if you waste a few sheets in your trials.