Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"To cook or not to cook".....with Sushi.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a girl who always had avoided her mother’s constant calls to help her in the kitchen. The girl would make it a point that she had her hands full so that she could skip entering the kitchen. (Although sometimes her mother was successful in pulling the reluctant soul into cooking; she will only later realize how helpful those sessions were.)
Now this girl of ours, hated the idea of standing in the kitchen for hours at length and cooking.
Our “i-hate-cooking” girl ended up falling in love with a guy, well traveled and ironically a food-lover, who appreciated the nuances of all cuisines.

So when she moved in with him after wedlock, she had to cook. No avoiding then…she loved her man, and wanted to please him by cooking for him.
Then began her calls to her mom to ask for recipes.
Here I would want to mention that although the girl said she hated cooking, she inevitably collected recipes of delicacies she liked. Loved cutlery, gourmet presentations, street food and was an avid food lover herself.

She only later realized that it wasn’t cooking she hated, but the idea of being monitored in the kitchen (her mom was too scared to let the poor girl alone in the kitchen, for something might go wrong…moms will be moms!)

Back to our protagonist, so she learned recipes from her mom and at times innovated upon a traditional dish. Read cookbooks alongwith her dose of fictional ones. She also loved following recipes on the web. Google searched for a particular recipe.
She enjoyed reading the write-ups preceding the recipe in question. Without realizing she fell in love with the blogosphere.

On one such occasion she was marveling at the pictures of a dish on a blog, when it struck her why doesn’t she keep a pictorial library of all the dishes she loves cooking. (mind you “loves cooking”)
Yes, with all the praises showered on her for her culinary skills at her in-laws place she beamed with confidence.

She was toying with this idea when one fine day while watching Travel & Living she stumbled upon a Sushi recipe.
Now she had tried sushi once only but loved it, more so as it was healthy and the dish was rather ‘cute looking’.

Anxiously she tried the recipe, while she was alone(just in case if it was a failure..none would know).
She made Sushi for the first time.
Excitedly clicked it. Proud that she didn’t have a sushi mat yet the rolls turned out perfect. She tasted one slice…and she was impressed with herself and secretly blessed the TV show.
Her husband too loved it and kissed her hands. He suggested she should start cataloguing her recipes with pictures for keepsake.

She almost instantly thought of “blogging”.

That was October of 2008 in Hong Kong. And the ‘girl’ as you must have guessed is none other than me. The dish I am to post today is the first ever to be clicked, with the idea of posting it on the web so that I could share my story with the world.
The birth of “Zaayeka”.

Although it was the first dish that led me to blogging …I only post it today, after about seven months. The picture may not be too great as the novice me made the dish in the evening and was way too excited at the outcome to have the patience of plating and clicking it. :)

Here is the crucial recipe …the reason behind Zaayeka.

Nori Maki-
1 cup cooked sticky or Thai short/medium grained rice (mktd as: Koshihikari rice/sushi rice)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
Nori wrappers- 4 nos.
a bowl of rice vinegar/water (for rinsing your fingers)
** The special rice and nori wrappers can be found at any of the asian groceries.

Filling I used-
(can be anything of your choice, vegetarian/vegan/chicken/fish etc...get imaginative!)

cooked omelette cut into long strips
carrots, cut into long strips
cucumber, cut into long strips
green bell pepper, cut into long strips
crab sticks/immitation crab meat
strips of shittake mushrooms cooked in teriyaki sauce
(or any sauce of your choice,I used teriyaki for its slight sweetness and to give body to the sushi)

First mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt together.
In a wooden/ceramic bowl place the cooked rice while its still hot and using a wooden spoon,mix in the vinegar solution. Do this in a 'cutting' fashion, this is done so that your rice grains do not break. In other words mix the vinegar solution into the rice carefully.

On a flat surface/kitchen counter, place your bamboo mat. I used a thick zip lock bag which I slit open. The idea is that the mat/zip lock should be able to give enough support to the nori/sea weed wrappers, while rolling the sushi.
Atop the mat/plastic, place the nori/sea weed wrappers.

Wet your hands with water/rice vinegar, so that the rice doesn't stick to your fingers.
Now using your fingers, slightly spread the rice evenly all over the Nori wrappers. Take care not to press the rice so as to mish-mash it.
Leave a margin on one of the long ends of the nori (the farther end from you), for sealing the roll. Just like you would seal an envelope.

Place the fillings of your choice on the spread rice, in one single row (on the end that is closer to you). Using your fingers, smear the 'blank' margin on the nori with some water/rice vinegar.
Now, carefully lift the mat/zip lock alongwith the nori, and roll firmly. Remove the mat and you should have a sealed sushi roll.
Slice it and serve with wasabi/soy dipping sauce. We just ate it plain. ;p

** I understand that it may help if you actually 'saw' the rolling of sushi , so you can watch this video.

I enjoyed my sushi thoroughly. It had the little spicy sweetness of teriyaki, the myriad textures of the various veggies, the smoothness of the crab meat and mushrooms, coupled with the tang of the vinegared rice. A truly satiating experience---both visually and on the taste front.

Hope you can now avoid the long queues outside popular sushi bars and make your very own anytime at home. :)
Do let me know if you have any questions/ about your sushi endeavours!



  1. Yummy sushi just love to pick few from the plate, enjoyed reading the story...

  2. i have seen this sushi shops in singapore and I always ignored it thinking it was only non vegetarian..did not know there were vege. versions too..looks good..

  3. Sushi looks delicious dear..never tried making them at home..will try sometimes, thanks for sharing..unlike u i always used to be in kitchen even when my mom wasnt :)

  4. I am sure lot os su can relate to this story.
    I was one like that :-)
    I have never had suhi , here it is always with raw fish which i don't think i would like, even though everybody says it is delcious.
    Lov ethe way you have prepared.
    Looks beautiful.

  5. What a fascinating story behind the creation of your blog and your journey to being a terrific chef!

    We looove sushi in our family, but we love the raw stuff more than the cooked stuff, so we go out to eat sushi more than we make it ourselves. :} Our fav filling for rolls at home is unagi (eel). Mmmm!

  6. wow! u made sushi!! thats one thing i havent dared to try yet..always felt it was slightly complicated..but you made it look very simple..will try soon! :)

  7. What a wonderful story of the birth of your blog and how you got into cooking! Thanks so much for sharing! The sushi is great!

  8. Yeah, It's funny sometimes when you want to make your man happy what you will learn to do :)~

  9. Great story ... I really enjoyed reading about your experience. The sushi sounds delicious. I've never tried to make some at home but maybe I will soon.

  10. mmm I always wanted to try my hands on sushi but now that you have given me this sounds so better and I lately fell in love with it... And you have given a vivid choice to make variety of sushi's your sushis are looking so perfect...

  11. I would so love to make our own sushi. Good for you that you've done it,and thanks for sharing all.

  12. What a cute story! :) The sushi looks great, I am sure it tasted wonderful, as it was made with love!

  13. You did a wonderful job! I love making sushi, looks so cute and delicious to eat!

  14. Have never made sushi before but it sounds delicious.

  15. Glad your husband encouraged you... otherwise I could have missed such a talent cook!

  16. What a cute story... Sushi is looking great... Collect your award from my blog award section.. :)

  17. Awww! thats such nice words...thank you all. :)

  18. You did a fabulous Job darling = ) I am glad you husband encouraged you as well, they came out fabulously! Ah, see you are already a pro.

  19. hi! join in the EFM-Breakfast and Variety Rice Series going in my blog!

  20. Cute story! It's so impressive that you've made sushi! And it looks amazing.

    I bought some cookbooks last year but have yet to venture into them. You've just inspired me!


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