Condiments: shoyu (soy sauce), wasabi, Japanese mayonnaise, gari (pickled ginger)
For the sushi rice:
2 cups rice
2 1/4 cups water
5 centimeters dashi kombu (stock kelp) (optional)
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Prepare sushi rice [see below] and set aside, covered in plastic wrap or a moist (but clean) towel.
Prepare the nori by lightly toasting the pieces. Just wave them over a hot element using tongs or long cooking chopsticks and cut the sheets into squares.
Prepare the gu (filling) by cutting into shapes and sizes that will fit into a small hand-rolled cone, and arrange artfully on a platter or in small bowls. Arrange platters strategically around the table, so everyone can reach everything they need to construct a roll.
Put your guests to work. Give everyone individual plates, dipping dishes with soy sauce, and get rolling!
How to hand roll:
Put roughly one tablespoon of rice on a piece of nori and flatten it out. (Using too much rice is the most common mistake.)
If you enjoy mayonnaise, squirt on a little Japanese mayo on the rice and arrange the fillings diagonally across the square.
Roll into a cone, dip in a little dish of shoyu and wasabi, and eat with your hands! Repeat as desired.
For the sushi rice:
Polish the rice. Pour the rice into a pot and fill it halfway with fresh, cold water. “Polish” the rice by kneading it – rubbing the grains against each other and the side of the pot, to remove excess starches. Strain the cloudy water and repeat at least two to three more times until the water is almost clear.
Add water and dashi kombu into the pot.
Let it soak. This step is optional, but the texture of your rice will improve with a 30 – 60 minute soak before cooking. If you’re tight on time, though, skip this step.
Cook the rice. Either use your rice-cooker to cook the rice, or bring it to a boil on high heat, with the lid snugly on. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Keep the lid on, and don’t take it off at all during the cooking process. Keeping the lid on, take the pot off the heat completely and let it continue to steam inside the pot for at least another ten minutes. While the rice is cooking…
Prepare sushi su (sushi vinegar) by mixing vinegar, sugar and salt until sugar and salt have dissolved. Adjust sugar and salt to taste.
Add the vinegar. When the rice has cooked and is still piping hot, turn the rice out onto a flat baking sheet or large platter, and sprinkle with the sushi vinegar.
Cool the rice. Armed with a fan in one hand and a flat spatula or oshamoji (rice paddle) in the other, vigorously fan the rice while gently turning it. Avoid breaking grains: lift and flip – don’t stir and squish! Recruit a friend to fan if you can, as cooling the rice quickly will maintain a firm texture.
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