Hi all - I don’t know whether I mentioned this before, but on Friday I had this brilliant idea that I could steal rice from the rice cooker in the cafeteria and make makisushi for myself in my room. For those living in the 3rd world or far from a fish-filled body of water, makisushi are sushi rolls, seaweed wrapped rice with raw fish and other assorted delicacies in the middle.
Anyway, I think I’ve complained enough about my living arrangements and you all know that I have no food preparation area or kitchen or really anything but a communal fridge and microwave in the cafeteria. (An amusing tangent about the microwave: its covered in buttons, but I’ve only ever pressed one. You see, when I first got here I wasn’t too proficient at reading, and during my first once-over of the buttons I immediately recognized only one word (コーヒー, coffee). And I’ve never bothered since to use any newfound reading skills, I still only press the coffee button no matter what I’m heating up. I HAVE A ROUTINE, OKAY, IT GETS ME THROUGH THE DAYS.)
Wow, anyway again. The reason I mention the lack of culinary space is that I really miss making my own food, mostly because I’m sick of 7-11 dinners and stew/sludge from the cafeteria, and also tired of going out to dine by my lonesome. So sushi is the obvious solution, as by definition it requires very little cooking, but the major hang up has been procuring rice. So that’s solved now through clever thievery and complete disregard for the people telling me not to do what I’m doing as I do it. They’re speaking in Japanese, I don’t understand that language, guys. Moving on.
Theres a fish market near my dormitory that’s pretty great and cheap, so I buy fish there, and there’s also a gourmet (read: expensive) Japanese grocery store that carries a rotating assortment of almost restaurant-like dishes like the awesome seared steak that I’ll get to in a moment. The regular 東急ストア (Tokyu Store) supermarket across the road from my dorm supplied all the regular supplies like のり (nori, seaweed sheets), すし酢 (Sushi su, vinegar), 卵 (tamago, egg omelet thing), 天くさ (tenkusa, the tempura flakes that make crispy sushi crispy) and of course わさび (wasabi). I should note that I don’t have a cutting board or a knife (other than my swiss army knife – yes I’ve been using that as my sole knife for 8 months, I also don’t have a fork or non-plastic spoons) so cutting the maki rolls into roll-pieces was not possible, I had to eat them as wonderful seaweed maki pitas.
I took pictures of all of my wonderful creations, but as I mentioned before, my SD card is corrupt as viewed by all computers I’ve tried but fine on the camera, and I want to get the pictures off so I haven’t wiped it yet, and I’m compounding the problem by continuing to take more. Help? So descriptions will have to suffice until I get the pictures:
My first attempt was a pretty standard salmon, crab, tamago, wasabi roll. This was good, but in my haste and hunger, I ended up putting like 200 g of fishy goodness in the middle of the roll, and it barely closed. Eating it was also quite difficult, but of course enjoyable. I’m not entirely sure whether the crab is real crab, as it was strangely inexpensive and conveniently removed from its shell. It tasted great though, and the salmon was top notch.
Then I mixed things up a bit by making a spicy crispy salmon roll. I don’t have spicy mayo, so I mixed up wasabi with the tenkasu flakes and added them to the salmon. I added wayyy too much wasabi and it almost killed me, but it was a pretty fantastic take two. Wasabi in Japan comes in a tube like toothpaste. Do I see toothpaste swapping hijinks in my future?
The next day I bought a nice big piece of tuna, and added to it everything I had left from the previous attempt; crispiness, some salmon, some crab, and tamago. This one was also packed full, but I just compensated by adding less rice. I really take the same attitude with sushi-making as I do with sandwich-making. The meat (or fish, or what-have-you) is the main event, so if you’re not going to add a hell of a lot, don’t make it at all. There’s nothing I dislike more than a sandwich with a single piece of shaved ham in it. Come on, at least half an inch or go home. So those pussy maki they sell at sushi places here (or in Canada for that matter) just don’t cut it.
Continuing my overloaded maki trend, I next made a roll with four (count’em, four) colossal tempura shrimp in the middle, lightly lathered with wasabi. Mmmm Mmmm good. Unfortunately here they have this bad habit of not taking off the skin/shell/legs of the shrimps when they deep fry them. They pull the same stunt in kakiage (which is an awesome food, to be saved for another blog entry, likely a short list of the things I enjoy in Japan). Also, note to self: fine avocado. Mmmmmm.
Now the pièce de résistance. At that gourmet food joint I mentioned above they had this seared “Kobe” tenderloin for sale. It’s a raw steak (Kobe steak is fantastical, but I seriously doubt this was Kobe, it wasn’t expensive enough) that’s just shoved under a flame for long enough to burn off any surface bacteria and put a layer of seared flesh on the outside. It’s sliced just like sashimi and is a wonder to behold. It comes with this little baggy of yummy sauce that I don’t know the name of. I mixed in some wasabi with the sauce and poured it on the whole thing of beef packed in a single roll. In a word; God-like, ladies and gentlemen. Tasty. If you try it yourself make sure the beef is okay to be eaten raw (any good cut should be technically) and make sure you go real easy on the rice, you don’t want to overload the goodness in the middle (remember, main attraction).
Dessert: Yah, I decided to try a dessert maki. To make cooked rice ready to be sushi rice, you add this stuff called sushi su (sushi vinegar) that is pretty much just rice vinegar with sugar. So I sweetened up some sushi su with a lot of honey, and added that to the rice instead to make super sweet sushi rice. Then I put strawberries, banana, Nutella and flaky crispiness in the middle. The nori is salty (its seaweed, guys) and I originally thought it might be reminiscent of those sweet-and-salty granola bars, but its really not. It was still really good. But I used the last of my honey :(.
Wow, that would have been a lot better with pictures. Sorry guys, I’ll do what I can. Peace out.