Sunday, 12 June 2011

N is for... Norimaki

People often mistakenly believe sushi means raw fish. It doesn't. Sushi means vinegared rice. Norimaki is a specific style of sushi which is rolled in nori - a type of seaweed. N night's norimaki, for reasons elsewhere explained, was vegetarian, but you could very easily bung all manner of fishy treats in yours if you so desire. Or indeed other veggie or meaty fillings. I've even been wondering whether norimaki can be made sweet - maybe coconut sweet rice filled with chocolate, dried fruit or jelly. I'm convinced the saltiness of the seaweed would work particularly well with some  caramel or chocolate-y filling or other. In fact, I don't know why I haven't tried it yet. This must be addressed forthwith!  

Please don't be put off trying to make your own norimaki because you have convinced yourself you don't possess the requisite skills. You'll need a bamboo rolling mat and a devil-may-care attitude and you're away. It really isn't rocket science. You just cook and season the rice, decide what you want in it and stick it all on a sheet of nori and roll it up tightly. Your first attempt will probably be a bit loose. Don't worry, the second one's better and the third will be your best yet. It might not be as pretty as the ones in food magazines, but they'll be delicious. Go on, have a go! I promise you won't look back and, if like so many people out there, you have a sensitivity to gluten and find lunchtime a boring hassle, these little babies will revolutionise your lunchbox.


10 oz/ 250 g sushi rice
250 ml water
2-3 tbsp Japanese rice wine vinegar (sushi vinegar)
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 nori sheets
Wasabi paste
1 red pepper
Half a cucumber
1 avocado
1 lime

to serve

Pickled ginger
Soy sauce for dipping
Wasabi paste for your guests to stir into their soy sauce.

Rinse the rice thoroughly before placing it in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Pop the lid on and simmer for five minutes. In the meantime, stir the sugar into the vinegar. Take the rice off the heat. leave the lid on and leave it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the sweetened vinegar into the rice and then cut and cool the rice by folding it through with a metal spoon. Taste for seasoning and adjust with more vinegar if you think it needs it. Leave to cool completely.

In the meantime, prepare your veg. Deseed your red pepper and cut it into thin batons. Remove the seeds from your cucumber and cut into thin batons. Peel and slice the avocado into batons and squeeze over some lime juice to prevent the avocado from browning.

Place one sheet of nori on your rolling mat, rough side up, and spread a third of your rice on the sheet, leaving a small gap at the top and bottom of the nori. Make a groove in the middle of the rice and dab in some wasabi. Place a line of red pepper batons across the groove, with a line of cucumber next to it and lastly top the pepper and cucumber with a line of avocado.

Take the edge of the mat nearest you and roll the sushi tightly, so you are left with a thick cigar-shaped roll. Unroll the sushi from the mat and repeat the process until you have three long sushi rolls. Pop the rolls in the fridge for about ten minutes so they firm up to make them easier to cut.

Place the rolls on a chopping board, one at a time, and, with a wet sharp knife, cut off the messy ends (a nice little cook's treat for you to snaffle before your guests arrive) and then cut the roll into even sized pieces. Repeat with the remaining rolls. I like to make mine in different thicknesses because I think it looks pretty on the plate.

Serve the norimaki with pickled ginger and soy sauce and more wasabi. 

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