Thursday, November 15, 2012

Makin' Sushi

I mentioned before that the BG's dream lunch includes vegetable maki, and I'll buy the grocery store version--which is seaweed-encased rice wrapped around cucumber and avocado--once in a while, for a special lunch. or as a vegetarian-friendly supplement to barbecued chicken or some such carnivore-centred meal.

The thing is that an eight pack of vegetable maki costs $6.99. I know it's relatively labor intensive (they have a sushi guy on staff) but that seems like some expensive rice and cucumbers! Last week I thought about making my own version. It looks elegant and complicated, but is it? After looking at a few videos, particularly this one from the makers of our house brand soy sauce, I decided to give it a try, ignoring an admonition from Worldwide that the technique might be a little too precise for a man of my slapdash approach in the kitchen. I bought a bamboo sushi mat at the local kitchen store for $3 and ventured across the street to the supermarket, wondering if they would have the ingredients I needed. I knew they would have carrots, cucumbers and rice vinegar. But pickled ginger, wasabi, sushi rice and nori (pressed, roasted seaweed)? You bet. The most interesting thing about my shopping list was that the nori was made in China and distributed by a British Company, which appears to serve North Carolina. Welcome to the twenty first century supermarket.

Ingredients and Final Product
Making the sushi rice is easy. It needs a little less water than your Uncle Ben, but it's otherwise the same process. I put it in the fridge to cool, and, when it was ready, I laid out my mat and the seaweed. I moistened the rice with a couple of splashes of rice vinegar, and spread it out on the seaweed mat, leaving space at the top for sealing the roll. I added some carrot and cucumber matchsticks to the middle and rolled it up. The rolling is a little tricky, but I'm getting better each time. The photo below actually doesn't look as nice as my first try. This is because I tried in this case using only half a sheet of seaweed and didn't leave myself enough cushion for proper containment.

Now that I understand the basics, the possibilities are endless, and I will soon discover why no-one's wrapping everything in sushi rice and seaweed. BLT rolls? ground lamb? dal? Am I a visionary on the edge of a culinary revolution, or a kucklehead on the verge of some peanut-butter-cup-smoothie-type disasters? I suspect the latter, but I wouldn't be me if I didn't find out the hard way.


  1. Nicely done! And what was your input cost at that 21st century super mart?

  2. I haven't done the per unit cost, but the ginger, wasabi and rice are similarly priced to their western equivalents. The seaweed was $5 for ten sheets, which would make 60 pieces. An 8-piece box of vegetable maki is $6.99. I'm guessing that my cost was about $2, not including labor of course. Plus the benefit of not having to bin the big, non-recyclable clamshell box.