Wednesday, May 15, 2013

sushi balls

The heart of sushi is the rice. Plump little grains dressed with sweet vinegar and formed into a slightly sticky, mouth-sized morsel that, ideally, come undone when they hit your tongue. I say "ideally" because most of us aren't sushi chefs, so we don't possess the skilled touch to form sushi rice perfectly. That shouldn't stop you from making sushi at home, though. Basic sushi at home need not be intimidating, and, in fact, can be lots of fun! Especially when you're making your sushi in ball form! 

One thing that might scare people away from homemade sushi is the fish... quality raw fish is expensive and hard to find. Guess what? You don't need fish for sushi! In fact, the filling opportunities are virtually endless. When sushi chefs are training, they make cucumber rolls over and over (and over and over). For mine I chose some fresh veggies and a couple of pickled items (pickled plums and kim chee), which made for a refreshing summer meal on the cheap.

Here are the things you will definitely need for these sushi balls: Short grain rice, rice wine vinegar seasoned for sushi, Nori (roasted seaweed sheets)... that's it! The rest is up to you and your tastes! 

To make the balls: cook your rice as directed. Let sit for a bit... about 15 minutes. Drizzle some of the sweetened rice vinegar over the cooked rice (like 1/4 cup per 2 cups of rice) and gently, but thoroughly stir to incorporate. Let cool enough that you can handle the rice. Wet your hands, grab about a 2-Tablespoon hunk of rice and gently flatten in your hand. Fill with your choice of fillings (don't overstuff!!) and gently shape the rice around the fillings to make a ball. Don't press to hard, as the rice should be sticky enough to hold together. 

Some options to flavor and decorate the outside of your balls are pointed out above. All these can be found in your favorite Asian grocery store. Other filling ideas include: daikon radish, tofu, crab meat, avocado, green onion, roasted eel, omelet seasoned with soy sauce, roe, various pickles... whatever you like! This would be a fun activity for a family dinner, as these are best eaten within 5 minutes of making them. You can lay out all your fillings and toppings and a bowl of rice and a bowl of water to wet your hands and... have a sushi-riffic ball!

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