Sushi Bowl Party!!

Sushi Bowl Party!!

For my second annual Sushi Bowl party, I decided to put a little more thought into the whole presentation and try to match the theme. Two teams, rolled up in some rice and seaweed, dipped in fermented bean sauce, scoring touchdowns of subtle flavor and texture–that’s how American football works, right? I don’t know, I just cook the food. The teams this year were the San Francisco Red Gold Diggers and the Baltimore Purple Blackbirds–both things that conjure up images of a great battle on the turf, racing to be the first to the 50-yard line, avoiding head injury, and trying to peg each other with an oblong ball–I know, I know, I won’t bore you with the subtleties of the game. Anyway, I figured I would match the sushi with colors of the teams. For the 49ers, it wasn’t that hard, there were many traditional ingredients that were gold (or yellowish) and red (or reddish, I’m including orange here): pickled daikon radish, tuna, pickled ginger, quail egg, various fish roe, tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette), raw salmon, carrot, shrimp, crab, etc. My problem became finding things that are purple and/or blackout to match the other team, the Ravens. After about a week of thinking, I ruled out simply dying the rice purple with food coloring (that’s cheating), and was unable to track down purple sushi grade fish (and my local sea urchin guy was…I don’t know, let’s say on vacation). I could have given up and just decorated the plate with something purple: eggplant skin, grapes, lavender, but I felt like that was cheating, too. While venturing around Chinatown I found some dried red-leaved shiso (which are actually a nice purple color) labeled “rice seasoning” and was curious, so I bought it. Black was a little easier, black sesame seeds, nori could be dark enough to look black, and something I had heard of, but never cooked with or eaten, black rice (or “forbidden rice” as it was considered a very fine rice reserved for the Emperor only). I researched it a little bit and found out that, when cooked, the black rice turns a deep purple (that’s a bingo!) and had a bit of a nutty taste like brown rice (which isn’t ideal for sushi, because of the subtle flavors, but I could work with it). I also played around with the shiso and realized that when cooked it turned greenish-brown (ew) but when put in cold water turned a nice royal purple. I also noticed that the water used to cook the black rice was a nice deep purple. So I took some sesame seeds and put them in the bowl with the purple water overnight and toasted them in a dry pan–the result was a nice purple sesame seed that kept the color of rice water and the shiso without imposing too strong of a flavor. So that was it, I had my purples, my reds, my blacks and my golds.

I already posted by recipe for sushi rice (as part of a dish that is more apt for a Sushi ‘bowl’ party, but I didn’t think of that until now)

So here are some of the pictures of the prepared sushi rolls, mostly the main dish, which includes the red/gold v. purple/black motif I was embracing. We were having a little too much fun watching Beyonce to take too many pictures.

Red and Gold v. Black and Purple

Red and Gold v. Black and Purple

(far left) tuna, carrot and bamboo wrapped with tobiko roe (flying fish eggs)
(inner left) tamagoyaki, daikon, and carrot topped with salmon
(middle-red/yellow) ikura (salmon roe) with raw quail egg
(middle-purple/white) black rice nigiri with raw bay scallop
(inner right) crab, cucumber, avocado, asparagus and black rice in shiso rice with black sesame seeds
(far right) Philadelphia roll with asparagus wrapped in black rice and shiso dyed sesame seeds

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Black Philidelphia Roll

Green plate to represent turf! Why do I think of these ideas too late!!

Green plate to represent turf! Why do I think of these ideas too late!?!

 

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(from left to right) Ebi (shrimp) nigiri, toro (fatty tuna) nigiri, sake (salmon) nigiri, tamagoyaki (japanese omelette), hotate (scallop) nigiri

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Someone couldn’t wait for the picture

DSC_0044 cucumber rolls, tuna rolls, California rolls, avocado rolls, and my failed attempt at a yin-yang roll (half black/half white rice) DSC_0016Just a pile of shrimp rolls, cucumber rolls, veggie rolls, and California rolls

To be honest – I don’t think I will be making black sushi again. I like the rice, don’t get me wrong, but it really overpowered the fish and the other ingredients. I am a big fan of having maybe 2 other flavors in sushi besides the sweet-vinegar of the rice, the salty-umami of the nori, and the sting of the wasabi. The earthy, nutty black rice would probably be better suited in a coconut milk dessert.

Chirashizushi aka “Scattered Sushi”
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Chirashizushi aka “Scattered Sushi”

I hosted a dinner party this last weekend and, among other things generally grilled and cheese, I made sushi.  I love making sushi, particularly sashimi (without rice) and makizushi (rolled) because you can do so much with the presentation.  I also enjoy having the leftovers to make chirashizushi, seared tuna, baked salmon, etc. On the day of the party, I headed down the street at, as my mother would call it, “the buttcrack of dawn,” to visit Blue Moon Fish at the Ft. Greene Park Green Market and ended up picking out some fresh Boston mackerel (not pictured…too delicious, ate ALL the mackerel).  Later, I visited my favorite local fish monger Fish Tales and at their suggestion picked up salmon, yellow fin tuna, and large sea scallops (not pictured).  My best bit of advice, find a fish monger you like, ask him what’s fresh, or sushi grade, and always tell him how good the last suggestion he made was.  My second bit of advice, learn to make good sushi rice.

That’s tuna and salmon and love

Sushi Rice:

3 cups short-grain white rice
3 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt

Rinse the rice in a colander until the water runs clear and not foggy.  Let the rice drain for 45 minutes to an hour then transfer to a large heavy pot. Add cold water to the rice and turn on high.  Once the rice is boiling–watch the pot, it will boil–give it one last good gentle stir, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Wait 25 minutes.  In a separate small saucepan warm the vinegar and mix in the sugar and salt.  When the rice is done, scoop it on to a flat nonreactive surface and slowly pour on the vinegar mixture while fanning the rice.  Cut through the rice to mix with a wooden spatula, be gentle because you don’t want mushy rice, you want each grain to be it’s own little grain, don’t you?  You don’t want the grain growing up to think it has to smush in with all the other grains, that grain might decide it’s time to have pink hair, a nose ring, and baggy pants!  Nobody will eat pink-haired rebellious grains of rice! Get a job rice!!  Finally, top with leftover fish from your sushi party, hardboiled egg, avocado, fish roe, pickled vegetables, seaweed…whatever, I’m not telling you how to make it, I’m creating a framework, top it with cooked fish if you want (don’t).  Drizzle with some soy sauce and enjoy.  If it turns pink, reevaluate your life choices.