Category Archives: Asian & Pacific Islands

Day 13 – Japanese Week Day 5 – California Uramaki

So Japanese week is nearly over. Sad times. Today’s offering isn’t truly ‘authentic’ Japanese Sushi, it’s more of a Western thing – hence California in the name.

Uramaki is Maki that is rolled inside out. The rice goes down first, then the nori, then the filling leaving the rice on the outside. The California bit refers to the filling of avocado and fish sticks seen in the many Sushi Lunch Deals supermarkets offer. [There are loads of other Western-Themed Maki which may crop up later this year.] The Uramaki is then rolled in toasted sesame seeds.

Ingredients

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Sushi Rice

Nori Sheets

Crab Sticks

Avocado

Sesame Seeds

Wasabi Paste

Most sushi consists of the same basic ingredients so this week has been easy as I already had plenty of sushi rice and the only real variation is in the filling. The rolling of the sushi was really what I wanted to test out this week so here goes. I’m also going to knock up a Bento Box with leftovers for my lunch too.

Uramaki

1. The start to making an Uramaki is exactly the same as if making a traditional Maki. Place the nori shiny side down and apply a layer of rice, gently spreading over the nori. This time though, leave a much larger gap at the edge.

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2. Carefully flip the nori/rice over so the shiny side of the nori is facing up and the rice is touching the bamboo mat. About 2-3cm from the bottom edge of the nori, lay the filling.

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3. Using the same method as with the traditional Maki, hold the filling in place and flip the bottom edge of the nori over the filling. Gently roll the bamboo mat upwards, tucking the clear nori in as you go.

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4. With a wet knife, slice the Uramaki into 6-8 pieces and serve.

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This was much much harder than the Maki, though both were easier than the first time I tried a while ago and I will be making sushi a lot more often as it seems quite healthy too – depending on filling. I hope to try and experiment with varying the rice as there must be a wholegrain version out there somewhere. You may notice the rice everywhere over the bamboo mat. That stuff got everywhere. Some videos recommend plastic wrapping the mat but it brushed of easily enough when washing. I did have to swap avocado for cucumber too as the stores only had the ‘wait 8 days to ripen’ ones in stock. Shame.

I would love some ideas for fillings too, as well as any ideas of a rice substitute I could use if there is one out there.

Day 11 – Japanese Week Day 3 – Tamagoyaki

Day 10 – Japanese Week Day 2 – Tuna Maki Sushi

So now I have an overwhelming amount of sticky rice, it’s time to make some rolls. Nori = Seaweed Maki = Rolls.

I did cheat a little and bought a ‘Sushi Making Kit’ though really this was mostly for the rolling mat. The fact it came with all the necessary ingredients was simply a bonus. On with the roll.

Ingredients

Sushi Rice

Nori Sheets

Tuna Mayonaise

Wasabi

(Patience)

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Now there’s not a huge amount to rolling sushi step-wise. Technique-wise it’s beyond. According to Youtube videos I watched to hone my rolling skills, Sushi Itamaes train on the job training in Sushi creation for anything as long as 20 years to gain this title. I doubt I’ll be crowned an Itamae anytime soon.

Tuna Maki

1. Place a sheet of Nori shiny side down on the bamboo mat. Make sure the mat’s sticks are horizantal to you.

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2. Gently press a layer of rice over the sushi leaving a 3/4 inch gap at the top of the nori – pushing not mushing. Respect your rice.

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3. About 1/2 inch from the nori edge nearest you, smear a horizontal line of wasabi. I put three lines at intervals as I love wasabi.

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4. Along the line of wasabi, lay the tuna filling.

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5. Ready to roll. Pinch the bottom corners of the nori, hold the filling in place with both middle fingers. Roll nori edge over filling to the rice on the top side. Using the mat, roll until only the clear edge of nori furthest away from you can be seen above the mat.

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6. Gently squeeze along the length of the mat. Dampen the clear edge of the nori and roll the maki onto it sticking the roll shut.

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7. Slice your maki.

Tah Dah.

I think I may have just made the fattest Maki Roll in the world. I watched a Sushi Rolling video by Epicurious and theirs looked like mine, their video also received a fair amount of negative comments regarding the authenticity of the roll. I then found a video, after my attempt was done, with a Japanese Chef on an American cookery show and her roll was perfect. I think the instructions on my Japan-easy kit weren’t hugely clear – especially concerning the “leave a bit of nori out of the mat” part. Her video was excellent and I will totally follow it next time.

TASTE – Rice was plain, blame previous Sticky Rice recipe for not telling me what to do with the salt, sugar and vinegar. As a whole was lovely and filling. Would prefer a larger selection and make a meal of it next time.

DIFFICULTY – Hard Hard Hard!! If Japanese Sushi chefs train for up to 20 years I doubt a London girl in the Welsh Valleys is going to produce anything stellar anytime soon. Arranging the filling is so precise, rolling more so. Does give me a good excuse to make more sushi though.

COST – Hmm. Sushi rice isn’t cheap, but I have seen alternatives used with the same effect for a fraction of the cost. I wanted to go authentic for the first go though. Filling, you make of it what you want – 80p cucumber veggie roll or 10quid super salmon roll. Nori is 3.99 for a pack of unknown sheet quantity. Ordering online or going to an Asian store that stocks larger quantities would be cheaper than buying from the general store where World Items are a speciality.

Day 9 – Japanese Week Day 1 – Sticky Rice

This week is to be dubbed sushi week. I realise it is Wednesday but that’s when my week can really start. Mondays are manic, Tuesday I am recovering from monday and the weekends I am preparing for Monday all over again. See, it makes sense.

As another of my New Year goals, I’m hoping to lose 40lbs. So far this year, and last, my work lunches have consisted of whatever the not so impressive local shop has to offer- pasties, sandwiches, ready meals. Not the most nutritional fare.

Today we start with the basics. Sticky rice. I have attempted sushi before and it was a disaster – suffice to say my rice was not sticky. Time to try again. I’m hoping that this recipe will work equally well for some awesome sounding Korean dishes too.

Ingredients

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2 Cups – White Sushi Rice

2 Cups – Water

3 1/2 Tbsp – Vinegar

1 Tbsp – Sugar

1 Tsp – Salt

I have seen a few recipes for sticky rice that call for normal short grain white rice. I will try them in the future as ‘official’ sushi rice is beyond expensive but I wanted to make sure all the ingredients this time were authentic to increase my chances of successfully making edible sushi.

Sticky Rice

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1. Measure out the rice into a large bowl and cover with water. Gently mix rice around. The water should go cloudy with excess starch. Drain and repeat until water is clear. Leave rice to allow water to be absorbed for 30 minutes.

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2. Into a pan place the rice and the measured amount of water. Cover with a lid and leave on a medium heat to come to a slow boil.

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3. Once boiling turn to a high heat for 1 minute. Do not remove lid.

4. Turn down to a low heat and leave to fully soak up remaining water for 10 minutes.

5. Take pan off heat and leave for a further 10 minutes.

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The recipe doesn’t actually tell you what you are meant to do with the sugar, vinegar and salt but having googled it, it seems you heat it all together in a new pan and ‘spritz’ over the cooked rice before using. A second recipe says to gently fork the seasoning through the rice.

Final result, sticky rice. It worked, I’m so excited. On to making maki rolls.

Day 3 – Tom Kha Gai

So tonight I have a dilemma. We are going out for dinner to talk house. That’s right, we just bought a house. It needs a lot of work. We’re stalling and don’t really know where to start hence the meal.

Food was planned though. Its still being cooked. Don’t panic.

On the menu we have Tom Kha Gai; Thai Coconut Soup. Easy to make according to the recipe and I do love Thai. One of my favourite things to cook from scratch is my take on a Thai-esque curry. It’s easy enough to do and the local market sells a huge selection of asian ingredients super cheap. It is however my own ‘whack-it-all-in’ recipe so I thought it would be nice to find a traditional Thai recipe to test out. Also, until I can get to a real shop to buy in for the week we’re looking for minimal ingredient recipies.

The recipe for today comes in two parts : Broth and Bits. I love chunky soup.

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Broth:

1 can coconut milk
2-3 cups chicken stock
Pinch of salt
1 tsp brown sugar
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, washed and chopped ~ add lime juice if using dried
3 red shallots, peeled and chunked
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 coriander roots, scraped ~ can substitute for a handful of coriander leaves and a pinch of coriander seeds.
2 chili peppers, halved
1.5 inch chunk of galangal root, chunked
3 kaffir lime leaves, coarsely chopped (or lime zest)

Bits:

1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut to chunks
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1-3 tbsp fish sauce
1 can baby corn, drained and chopped to chunks (optional)

Finish:

1 tbsp lime juice
1 handful fresh coriander, chopped

Some of this was quite hard to find in the local store, especially when you don’t really know what you are looking for so don’t really know where to look. I did have to substitute some things such as the galangal root for pureed galangal and coconut milk for cream though I did add more fluid to compensate for this. Also, I forgot to defrost some chicken so we had Quorn instead – it was nice and moist which seems to be a chicken themed issue.

On with the recipe. I’ve downsized it word-wise as the recipe I was following was quite wordy and a bit all over the place.

Tom Kha Gai

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1. Add to a saucepan the coconut milk, chicken stock, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, chilies, coriander, garlic, shallots, sugar and salt.

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2. Bring to the boil and simmer for at least 15 minutes.

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3. Sieve the broth to remove all the bits. These can be pureed and added back in if you wish, though I don’t really fancy it.

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4. Add the chicken, mushrooms and baby corn to the broth. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Top with fresh coriander leaves and serve.

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Hmm, I don’t know. If I were to make this again at some point, I would have to buy ‘real’ chillies from the market as the store-bought ones were rather average. The broth was nice but I think I prefer a thicker curry with some rice.

TASTE – Sweet and salty, very thin.

COST – Thai bits like the lemongrass etc seem to be some of the cheapest ‘World’ food items at around 80p each.

DIFFICULTY – Not hard but a bit annoying with the faffing about sieving, switching pans, whizzing etc.

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