In 1991 Mrs Hagiwara sent a note home to my parents suggesting that I discontinue Japanese lessons - it wasn't working out. Languages are not my strong suit and Mrs Hagiwara had a point. But telling a hot-headed teenage girl that she can't do something is like a red rag to a bull. So I promptly enrolled in elective Japanese lessons to spite her and spent the next two years proving her point with my average pronunciation, satisfactory comprehension and painful penmanship!
Ten years later, I packed my overweight bags, donned the heaviest jumpers and boots I owned and boarded a plane to Osaka, Japan. I'd scored a job teaching English for an enormous company, who incidentally were not only my employer but my travel agent, my landlord, my insurer and my banker. I didn't last long - I was home within five months. Turns out teaching is not for me, but my love affair with Japan continued. The food, the culture, the beer, the food, the people, their obsession with punctuality, the architecture, the whiskey shots at Joe's bar* - I love it all.
Early last year Bearhands and I got into the habit of Japanese night - we'd buy some sushi from a place on The Spit that we love, I'd make gyoza, we'd drink Sapporo and Asahi, pour each other's glasses of sake and shout KAMPAI! a little too loudly for parents with sleeping children.
We wrapped up 2012 celebrating New Years Eve on the roof at my
beach house Brother-in-law's place. We ate bite-sized bits throughout the night. Erin and Rachel (the sobriety thieves) made Vietnamese Rice Paper rolls and Pomegranate Mojitos. Bearhands manned the BBQ - cooking oysters kilpatrick, lamb cutlets and my first attempt at Filipino cooking - some BBQ pork belly skewers.
Me? I test-drove sushi! Late last year, Sunrice sent me a basket of Japanese goodies - including their new Fast and Easy Sushi Rice and a gorgeous sushi knife.
sushi at home (the fast and easy way)
- Nori rolls
- Fast and Easy Sunrice Sushi Rice
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp mirin Bamboo rolling mat (makisu)
- Fancy pants Japanese sushi knife (hocho)
- Fillings - I used some sashimi-grade raw tuna, cooked prawns, cucumber, kewpie mayonnaise, avocado and honey-soy chicken.
Tear a small hole in the sushi rice bag and microwave for two minutes.
Empty the hot rice into a bowl and add the rice vinegar and mirin. I've experimented using just mirin, and just rice vinegar but half/half is my preference. Allow to cool.
Place a piece of nori onto your bamboo mat, spread cooled rice onto the nori sheet - getting the right amount takes a bit of experimenting.
I made some thin rolls with just one ingredient and some larger maki with a few flavour combinations. Getting the filling in the centre of the roll took me a few goes, but my first attempts were just as tasty.
I made combinations of tuna and wasabi, tuna and avocado, some wider rolls with prawn, kewpie mayo and avocado and for the non-piscivores - some plain cucumber and some chicken, mayonnaise and cucumber.
I wouldn't have made sushi at home without being able to prepare the rice so easily in the microwave. I had it assembled and in the fridge faster than I could have driven to The Spit, found a park, bought our normal order and come home. Plus, I enjoyed a tasty beverage while I worked! The lazy girl in me must admit that I loved how mess-free the whole process was. Was it as beautiful as the bought stuff? Not on your nelly - but the audience were just as appreciative of my efforts!
sushi pack giveaway
Sunrice have very kindly given me a beautiful sashimi knife and some packs of their Fast and Easy Sushi Rice to give away to one lucky reader. Regular blog visitors will know that this is the first ever giveaway for Cooker and a Looker. I'm rapt that this is the first one because I am totally enamoured with my knife and I'm sure the winner will be too!
To be in the running to win, leave a comment below answering this question:
have you ever done something, just because you were told you shouldn't?
- Competition closes at 11.59pm on Saturday 19 January 2013.
- This is a game of skill - best answer wins.
- Winner will be notified by email.
- If you'd like a copy of the full Ts & Cs
you've got too much time on your hands, email me and I'll send you a copy.
- As stated above, Sunrice gave me some sushi goodies last year. They're also supplying the prize for this give away. I was not paid for this post. All opinions, witty anecdotes and bad analogue photography are my own - stories about my high school Japanese prowess are not for sale!
* Joe loved Aussie bands (Powderfinger were regulars back then!!) Being from Brisbane meant I was cool by association and often made for a very unsteady push-bike ride home!