Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Posted by Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
It’s the middle of winter here in New England. It’s cold. Frosty-drippy-nose cold. There’s snow on the ground. And today is my birthday.
I should be craving something warm, or something gooey like a wonderful risotto, or something chocolate, but all I want is a big plate of sushi.
Vegetable sushi, with some spicy wasabi sauce.
And a candle on top.
Kids of all ages -- including our six-year-old granddaughter -- love making sushi, especially when you reassure them that the word sushi does not mean raw fish. Sushi is the rice, flavored with a bit of sweetening, that holds everything together.
In my pantry I always have the necessary components for maki sushi: Nishiki rice (a medium-grain rice that’s often sold as “sushi rice”), and nori (flat, square sheets of seaweed). They’re easy to find these days in regular grocery stores as well as Asian markets. Both rice and nori will keep almost indefinitely in the cupboard.
Once I discovered how easy it is to make basic sushi rolls, I set out to teach my Family Cooking Group (kids ages 12-15, each with a parent or grandparent) how to do it. We had a great time experimenting with many variations on the filling: raw and cooked vegetables, sliced omelets and bacon, even peanut butter and jelly -- though that one was a bit messy, as you can imagine!
Of course, as I got into sushi, I needed (okay… I wanted) all the right tools, so I could make sushi quickly and easily with whatever I happened to have in the pantry. In no time I’d collected a sushi-oki (a wooden straight-sided bowl for cooling and mixing the sushi rice – lovely, though a wooden salad bowl makes a fine substitute), a bunch of bamboo sushi mats (no substitute for these, although they are inexpensive, often only a dollar or two), rice paddles, and a sushi press for making beautiful squares.
I needed a way to store all of these goodies, so off I went to the local craft store, where I found the perfect thing: a stacking plastic box with interlocking levels. Yes, you’re right, it’s just like a tiffin!
Within each level there are moveable dividers, so you can make compartments custom-sized for your crafting bits – or sushi supplies. The bottom box holds the sushi-oki. In the top, I store sushi mats, rice paddles, the sushi press, and several dumpling crimpers for making potstickers. Occasionally I’ll throw some packages of nori in, too, as well as some small paper fans for cooling the sushi rice.
The plastic craft box keeps everything free of dust. Be sure to wash and dry your wood and bamboo sushi tools carefully and thoroughly before you pack them in the box. Add a few packets of silica gel, recycled from the nori packages, in each level, to keep everything dry and free of mold.
A handle on top makes it easy to carry, in case you want to take your sushi-making skills on the road. My own sushi box has made the trip to several parties.
With your own sushi kit in the pantry, you’ll be ready whenever the craving strikes.
Even if it’s not your birthday.
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