We made nigiri for the first time

And I’d call it a success!  Not perfect by any means, but we are definitely improving our sushi-rice skills, and I think by the end of the year, I’ll make a pretty great nigiri.  No big deal.  Apparently we’re going about this all wrong though.  Pressed sushi and rolls are supposed to be the easiest, and nigiri is supposed to be the hardest.  Reasonably, it’s simple enough that not doing any one of the components right will be pretty readily apparent.  Using correct form, you should be able to cut the fish in such a way that it makes a slight cup shape to cradle the rice, and it should also adhere to the rice.  Mine doesn’t.  I’ll get there. I suspect that it had a little to do with Craig cooking the rice before I got home, and it wasn’t as hot as normal when I went to spread it out and mix in the vinegar concoction.

sushi rice

So here’s the rundown.  I used “Sushi Rice.”  I am aware that it’s a little on the nose, but the rice aisle at my Asian supermarket makes my head spin, and most of the short grain white rices don’t have any English on the bags, so I stick with something that I know will work for my preparation.  Here’s how the prep goes….

Get 2 cups of sushi rice, and place in a fine mesh strainer.  Rinse with cool water until all of the runoff is clear.  And I mean really rinse that stuff.  Rinse it til you think it’s done, then rinse it 3 more times.  When it’s sufficiently rinsed, put it in a saucepan, and top with 3 cups of cold water.  Cover, bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, and set a timer for 20 minutes.  When 20 minutes is up, turn off the heat and set a time for an additional 15-20 minutes.  When that time is up, scoop the rice out into a wide, flat dish.  I use a Pyrex 9×13 casserole dish.  Sprinkle with your sushi seasoning mixture, taste, adjust, etc.  I am currently using a premade mixture of vinegar, sugar, and MSG.  You can also make your own with vinegar, sugar, and salt.  But MSG is delicious, and it’s easy.  Either way, use your rice paddle to keep mixing the rice around, and get a breeze going to dry off the rice.  Having a partner fanning it with a magazine or something works beautifully.  If you’re forever alone, an electric fan would also work I suppose.  Anyway, keep working it til it stops steaming. Now you have some sushi rice!

salmon and tuna nigiri

The fish I got was sashimi grade tuna and wild-caught salmon from our local high-end Asian supermarket.  Each block cost about $5-6.  We probably got 15 pieces out of the 2 blocks of fish.  I’d like to discuss the quality of fish found at the different types of Asian supermarkets for a moment though.  We have 3 main Asian supermarkets in our area.  Ranch 99, H-Mart, and Uwajimaya. I used to go to Ranch and HMart all the time for cheap produce and crazy snacks, but was always a little hesitant to get meat at either place.  Straight up, they smelled.  I thought that was normal for Asian supermarkets, and it pretty much is.  I also won’t buy fish at them.  In college, Craig and I bought fish at Ranch 99 and it was not very good.  As a rule, I no longer buy fish from places that have an “odor” upon walking in the door.  Uwajimaya is appreciably more expensive than either of the other 2 places, but they also have gorgeous produce (not skanky seconds type stuff), and a huge variety of really crazy snacks, a whole aisle of instant ramen varieties, etc.  They’re about on par with the prices seen at a second-tier grocery store… that is, not Whole Foods, but something like QFC(a higher-end Kroger-owned store, for those of you not in the PNW).  But Uwajimaya doesn’t smell like anything other than their incredible hot foods “deli” where you can get a Chinese BBQ whole duck, japchae, soba noodles, soups, etc.  And they’re my favorite high-end foods place.  You can get quail, quail eggs, foie gras, free range chicken eggs, etc.  You can also get gorgeous hunks of sashimi grade fish for around $28/lb.  That is the place we go for good quality fish.  It is a polar opposite to Ranch 99 or HMart.

tuna nigiri

We sliced the fish up, then got to forming the rice blobs.  The main trick here is to wet your hands, otherwise you’ll have a ton of sticky rice all over your hands and no blob.  Then you press the fish onto the blob, form it a little more, and it’s kind of done.  I am obviously no expert, but this worked for me to make “sufficient” nigiri.

salmon nigiri

We had this with pickled ginger and some tamari (wheat free soy sauce) with wasabi powder mixed in.  It was pretty incredible.  I think we will probably make this a more regular thing.  It was easy, tasty, and really not THAT expensive.  But speaking of expensive, we also made a batch of spam musubi, because Craig loves it so much, and likes to eat it for breakfast.  I’m not a lover of nori (seaweed sheets), so I have been experimenting with ways to enjoy spam in a sushi setting without the nori, and I think I found my ticket.  SPAM Nigiri!

SPAM Nigiri

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