Sushi is one of the most wonderful appetizers because you can get your guests involved in assembling and rolling it, something I've never known anyone to refuse (any guest worth his or her salt, I mean!).
This type of sushi is called futomaki, or "thick sushi roll". Equip yourself with a few rolling mats (available at Japanese specialty stores) or use a folded tea towel as a substitute. For utmost authenticity, use seasoned rice vinegar (it is sweeter and more traditional) and serve with small mounds of pickled ginger and wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and a little bowl of soy sauce for dipping.
2-1/4 cups (550 mL) water
2 cups (500 mL) Japanese rice, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup (75 mL) rice vinegar
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) rice wine (mirin)
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
4 sheets nori (pressed seaweed)
10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp (15 mL) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) wasabi powder
1 Pkg (7 oz/200 g) frozen flaked crabmeat, thawed (or 2 oz/60 g smoked salmon, cut in strips)
Quarter English cucumber, cut in long 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick sticks
Half bunch watercress
2 tsp (10 mL) sesame seeds, toasted
In 8-cup (2 L) saucepan, cover and bring water and rice to boil; boil for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, mirin and salt to boil, stirring just until sugar dissolves; let cool.
Spread rice in large shallow dish. Sprinkle with half of the vinegar mixture; toss with fork. Toss with remaining vinegar mixture. Cover with damp towel; refrigerate for 45 minutes or until at room temperature. Meanwhile, toast nori sheets by quickly brushing 10 times per side over electric element on high heat or gas element on medium heat.
Filling: Meanwhile, in small saucepan, soak mushrooms in 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water for 30 minutes. Add soy sauce and sugar; simmer for 10 minutes or until no liquid remains. Discard stems; slice caps thinly. Combine wasabi with a few drops of water to form paste.
Place rolling mat (maki-su) on work surface with shortest side closest; place nori sheet, shiny side down, on mat. With wet fingers, press onerquarter of the rice evenly over nori, leaving 1-inch (2.5 cm) border on far side uncovered.
Dab thin line of wasabi over rice 1/2 inch (1 cm) from edge. Top with one-quarter each of the crab, then mushrooms. Arrange one-quarter of the cucumber in row beside mushrooms; top with one-quarter of the watercress. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp (2 mL) seeds.
Holding filling in place with fingers, tightly roll mat over filling. Using mat as guide, roll up firmly, jelly roll–style, squeezing to compress. With sharp wet knife, trim ends; cut into eight 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick slices. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Having a sushi party? Don't miss our complete Sushi Party Menu!
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