Apr 11, 2010

Get Rolling!

Looking for a fun way to jazz up Girls’ Night? Try this hands-on and figure-friendly idea: Make-Your-Own Sushi Party!

Individual bottles of sake (they come with little cups!) and Japanese beers
Miso Soup
Green Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing
Make your own sushi hand rolls
Coconut, green tea and/or mango sorbet

You can go two routes with the edamame - either toss them in boiling water for a few minutes, drain and serve with salt for dipping or make them the way my friend Cheryl does: boil & drain then toss into a big frying pan with olive oil, minced garlic and red chili flakes. They’re a little messier but way more delicious.

Unless you’re a health nut, you probably don’t keep a jar of miso paste in your fridge. If you don’t want to invest in one, look for packets of powdered miso – they’re just as good. Making the soup is crazy easy: Heat as much water as you’ll need in a small saucepot until hot but not boiling. Add a few spoonfuls of miso and taste it. If it tastes good, you’re done. If it’s not strong enough, keep stirring in miso until you like it. Add small cubes of firm tofu and sliced green onions to the pot and keep it warm over very low heat. Stir before serving.

The salad is just as easy: These days you can find great bottled sesame ginger dressing that’s just a good as homemade, so save yourself a little time and grab some from the store. Iceberg lettuce is what you’ll get a most sushi restaurants but you can use any salad greens you like. Assemble little bowls of greens and let everyone grab one and dress it themselves.

Before everyone arrives, prep and chop the rest of the ingredients. Make a pot of white or brown rice. When it’s done I like to stir in a spoonful or two of seasoned rice vinegar, but that’s completely optional – just make sure you keep the rice a little sticky. This is one time you don’t want perfectly fluffed & dry rice!

You can use anything as filler for your sushi, but I like to cut carrots, cucumbers, peppers, white radishes and green onions into matchsticks and add shredded napa cabbage, avocado slices, cilantro leaves, toasted sesame seeds and sriracha chili sauce. If you want to include fish, ask for the freshest fish at the grocery store (or a local fishmonger if you have one!) and try tuna, salmon or yellow tail – which are all crowd pleasers. Be sure to give your fish a sniff to make sure it’s fresh – if it smells really fishy it’s probably best not to serve it raw to your friends! Keep it very cold and slice into domino-size pieces. Imitation crab meat sticks are another popular option for making California Rolls and are easy to find at most grocery stores.

Lay everything out on a pretty platter or cutting board with a stack of toasted seaweed sheets (they come pretty big, cut them in half for the right size) and let guests assemble their own sushi rolls. Cone-shaped hand rolls are the easiest to make but invest in a sushi-rolling mat if you’re so inclined and make pretty rolled and sliced sushi as well.

Give everyone a plate with a little dish of soy sauce, a pile of pickled ginger and a dab of wasabi paste. This is really hand-held food but put out a few sets of chopsticks for anyone who needs them.

Heat sake in a water bath over medium heat just like you would heat a baby’s bottle. Give everyone a warm sake or a cold beer and gather around a low coffee table to dig in!


p.s. - I heart Mark Bittman, I swear we share a brain. See his article on homemade sushi: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/05/dining/05mini.html?ref=dining

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