Tuna salad rolls
( MAKES 4 rolls )
Photo by Tam West
Sushi has become a staple food in New Zealand but the making of it at home still remains a mystery to many. There is really not a lot to it and this may help unravel that mystery.
- To wash the rice, place in a pot or rice cooker bowl, fill with cold water, swirl the rice around and then drain the milky water. Use the palm of your hand to push the rice around a couple of times. Add some more water, swirl the rice and drain the milky water. Repeat a couple of times or until the water remains clear.
- Drain the water completely, add 2 cups of clean water (1 cup of rice to 1 cup of water) and soak for 30 minutes before turning the rice cooker on. If cooking in a pot, cover with a lid, turn on high heat and bring the rice to the boil. As soon as it has boiled, turn down to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and rest for 5 minutes before you open the lid to perfect rice.
- Put hot, cooked rice in a large non-metallic bowl. Pour the sushi vinegar over and mix well using a cutting motion rather than a stirring motion, to prevent the rice becoming mushy. Try to cover as many rice grains as possible with the sushi vinegar. Cover with a wet cloth and set aside.
- Place all the other ingredients on separate plates (buffet style).
- To make the sushi, place a nori sheet (smooth side down) on top of a sushi rolling mat. Wet your hands with water (to avoid rice sticking to your fingers) and place two handfuls (180g-200g) of sushi rice on the nori. Spread the rice evenly, but leave a 1 cm gap at the top of the seaweed.
- Place your choice of other ingredients on top of the rice, near the bottom end of the seaweed.
- Lift the bottom edge of the mat upwards and over the filling, using your fingers to keep the ingredients in the centre of the roll. As the rice meets the nori, squeeze the roll to make it firm and lift the top edge of the mat out to stop it getting caught in the roll. Continue until the roll is complete.
- Wet a knife with water and cut each roll into 8 pieces and serve with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.
Make it different
You can make smaller rolls with less filling; ie just cucumber. You can reverse the rice and nori layers so you have a roll with rice on the outside. You can then roll these in fish roe or toasted sesame seeds. You could make temaki, where you roll a square of nori into a cone to fill with rice and toppings. Nigiri is a rectangle of rice sitting underneath toppings and inari sushi is sushi in a tofu "bag" cooked in sweet soy sauce to give it a lovely flavour (you can buy these ready made) - the bags are filled with sushi rice and toppings. For a poke bowl serve sushi rice and toppings in a bowl. Salmon or tuna marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil is good for these.
Short grain rice is best to use for sushi because its starch content will help keep the rice together when shaping. Long grain rice will fall apart when you roll. If you’re a big fan of brown rice, you can try genji mai, which is in between brown and short grain rice and has enough starch to hold together and more flavour and health benefits. One cup (250ml cup) of short grain rice will give you approximately 500g cooked rice which will be enough for 2 sushi rolls, 16 pieces of nigiri or 10-12 pieces of inari (tofu bag) sushi.
If you are using raw fish, ask your fishmonger for sashimi grade (super-fresh) fish. If you love eating salmon but don’t want to have the hassle of removing bones, the tail is the part you want to buy as there are no bones. It will save you a lot of time. For rolled sushi you can save a bit of money by buying salmon frames which still have meat on the bones that you can scrape off.
Don’t underestimate the power of nori. It comes in different grades. Lower grade nori is often very green and light in colour with an uneven thickness. It can be quite tough when you take a bite and doesn’t have a lot of taste. Higher grade nori has a very dark colour and even thickness. It is thin and should melt in your mouth. When you take a bite, it will give you an umami flavour and natural sweetness. I always use medium to high grade nori for my sushi.