Homemade sushi with crunchy clementine tempura
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Making homemade sushi makes for a great date. It’s hands-on, you’re teaching someone how to do something new, and, well, can you really go wrong with sushi? Not so much. (Admittedly, this is probably best for a date with someone you are super comfortable with — we all know there is no graceful way to eat sushi!) In this case, I knew it was going to be a great evening when the fella emailed me a few days beforehand with an excellent musical twist to add to our planned sushi-making adventure: a roll inspired by Asobi Seksu‘s album Citrus. In his words: “SO, we’re talking about a roll with salmon (either fresh or smoked), a vertical section of orange (naval, clementine, both?), cucumber, and some essence of crunch, for the loud + discordant factor.” We ended up with fresh salmon, avocado and cucumber, plus clementine fried in tempura batter for the crunch factor. It was certainly a bit different than any other sushi I’ve had, but the citrus worked surprisingly well and I loved it. Also in the spirit of this kinda-silly holiday, it’s perhaps worth noting that the loose translation of the Japanese phrase “asobi seksu” is “casual sex.” Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
Makes 5 rolls (which was entirely too much for two people…whoops).
Ingredients + supplies:
1 1/2 cups sushi rice, uncooked
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons salt
Fresh salmon (make sure it’s sushi grade), cut into thin slices
1 kirby cucumber (or any cucumber), cut into thin strips
1 avocado, cored and sliced
2 clementines, peeled and pulled into pieces
Box of tempura batter mix (see note in directions)
Canola oil for frying
5 sheets nori (seaweed)
Bamboo sushi mat, wrapped in plastic wrap for easy cleaning
• Cook sushi rice according to package. Do not open the lid of your pot until it’s done!
• In the last few minutes of the rice’s cooking time, mix rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Bring back down to simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved. When the rice is done cooking, transfer to a bowl, drizzle the rice vinegar mixture over it and mix thoroughly.
• Make tempura batter according to package (mine was 1/2 cup tempura mix sprinkled over 1/2 cup ice-cold water; whisked until just combined).
• Pour about 2 inches of canola oil into a medium pot over medium heat. The oil is hot enough when a drop of batter starts sizzling as it hits the oil. Dip each clementine section into the batter and immerse in oil. Fry until the outside is crisp and almost a golden color. Let sit on paper towel until ready to use.
Assembling your rolls
Note: I have never tried to explain sushi-rolling before; it’s a lot easier to show! There are various methods for rolling sushi; this is my best explanation of how I do it. You might also want to refer to somewhere like makeymsushi.com or browse some how-to videos on YouTube for further assistance. But, here goes.
• Set bamboo mat on the table with the lines facing horizontally. Place seaweed on top, also with the lines facing horizontally and the shiny, bumpy side down (creases should be facing inward, so you can fold it over). Use the back of a spoon to spread a thin layer of rice from the bottom of the nori up until about 1 1/2 inches from the top.
• Leave about an inch of space (with rice) at the bottom, then line up the sushi filling, keeping all of it as close together as possible.
• Grab the bottom of the mat and pull the seaweed up over the filling, then press down and squeeze the roll in tightly. Lift up the end of the bamboo and continue rolling the nori, pressing in tightly as you go.
• When you get to the end (the inch or so of plain seaweed), dip your finger in water and run it along the edge of the seaweed to seal the roll. To cut the roll, use a slightly wet and very sharp knife. It helps to wipe the knife with a wet paper towel between cuts.