Monday, November 26, 2007

Autumn Sushi

After a very long, relaxing holiday weekend out of town, many cooks face the dilemma of returning home to an empty refrigerator. Stephen and I worked very hard last week to use up anything that would spoil - a phase of kitchen management that I particularly enjoy. Now that we're back and haven't been grocery shopping yet, it's a delightful challenge to turn the remaining odds and ends into a meal. Sushi it is!

Sushi originated in South and Southeast Asia as a means of preserving fish through lacto-fermentation. Fishermen would layer their catch with salt, rice and seaweed, and the lactic acid produced by the fermenting rice would keep the fish from spoiling.

Modern sushi, as I made today, is like modern pickles - vinegar, salt and sugar are added to mimic the flavor but not the nutritional properties of the original food. Maybe someday I will try lacto-fermenting fish, but not yet.

The Rice:

In the morning I cooked one cup of brown rice that had been soaking overnight. After work, I dissolved a quarter-teaspoon of sea salt and two teaspoons of Muscovado sugar in a tablespoon and a half of brown rice vinegar. This I sprinkled over the cooled rice and tossed it all gently together.

The Fillings:

During the last hour of my workday, I called Stephen and asked him to put the Hubbard squash in the oven at 275 F. When I got home, I cut the cooked squash into strips, along with an omelette of two eggs, a half-teaspoon of soy sauce and a quarter-teaspoon of sesame oil. I peeled and roughly julienned a brilliant red carrot as well. The squash, eggs and carrot were all left over from the last farmers' market of the season.

The Assembly:

I laid a nori sheet on my bamboo mat and divided the rice into fourths - one serving per roll. With wet hands, I spread the rice on the nori, layered the fillings on one end, rolled it up and gave it a squeeze. Four rolls later, dinner was ready. A sharp knife is essential! Stephen and I had a roll each with soy sauce and kimchi. The kimchi functioned as a type of salad traditionally eaten between bites of sushi "so you don't look like a pig." Oishii desu!

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