Feb 17, 2010

Shrimp & Avocado Sushi

The reasons why I hate sushi: Raw fish, seaweed and mandatory one-bite-mouthfuls equal a mushy mess of foreign flavor that makes me gag.

The reason why I made sushi: The man that I love...loves it.

We never go out for sushi. Poor guy. And it was his birthday, after all. So I decided to make the one food that makes his heart pitter-patter. Even if it meant forcing a few pieces of sushi down my throat and possibly baking a back-up pizza. (Why couldn't he love steak or fried cheese, instead?)

But there was one obstacle in my way that seemed even harder than eating the sushi. And that would be making it. Sushi chefs treat the process like an art, spending years mastering their craft. And I was going to slap something together in one night? Right.

But I had a secret weapon. YouTube. There I learned how to julienne cut a cucumber, properly use nori (dried seaweed), and correctly and quickly roll the sushi so it would stay intact and look like, well, a sushi roll. Once I'd gained a bit of confidence (and a little more anxiety) I hit the store.

Thankfully, all the ingredients were stocked in Kroger's sushi department, so there was no hunting. But guess what else I found? Sushi. Tons of colorful, convenient, pre-made and perfect sushi. Some were rolled in caviar. Some were topped with fancy sauce. All of them were mocking me with their beauty.

I'm not going to lie. I pondered the benefits of buying a few boxes. After all, it was a surefire way to guarantee a disaster-free, delicious meal for Luke. But alas, where's the sentiment in grocery store sushi?  So I passed on the easy button this time. In a pouty fit I stole a few sets of complimentary chopsticks reserved for paying customers. Hey, I bought a jar of pickled ginger. Close enough.

At home, I started on the fillings. I cooked the rice, mashed the avocado and wasabi, sliced the shrimp and cucumber, chopped the cilantro and rinsed the chives. Whew.




Everything seemed pretty normal and tasty at that point and I was actually looking forward to trying the sushi. Sorta. 

Then it began. I rolled up my sleeves, set up a filling buffet, covered a bamboo place mat with plastic wrap (a must-have for sushi making if you don't own a sushi roller), and took a deep breath.


I started by breaking off one end of the nori at the perforated lines. Then I dipped my hands in ice water (to prevent sticking) and gently patted cooled rice all over the nori, except for a strip at the end farthest from me. I was careful not to smash the rice down because according to my YouTube sushi instructor, "you must respect the rice."


Next, I spread on the wasabi avocado mixture. Looks like guacamole. Tastes like something a fire-breathing dragon would cough up.


Then I arranged the shrimp pieces, cucumber slices and chives on the bottom third of the rice.



Next I lifted the bamboo mat while holding the filling in place and quickly flipped it over into a roll. Then I firmly tucked the mat under and gently pressed along the top of the roll to insure it was firm and secure. Remember how I left a little bit of nori at the end? That was so rice wouldn't squeeze out. When I released the mat....*drum roll please*...


I had a perfect sushi roll! (Well, in my non-sushi-eating opinion at least.)



And before long, I had eight perfect sushi rolls! The recipe only makes six, but I had a little extra filling, so I went ahead and made a couple more. I was sure Luke wouldn't mind.


I let the rolls sit for five minutes, then starting with a center cut, sliced them each into eight pieces. Beautiful!


A little wasabi paste and pickled ginger went on each plate, along with a small bowl of soy sauce on the side.

Once everything was ready, I brought in Luke. Oh, how I wish you could have seen the look on his face when he walked into the candlelit kitchen and saw the 64-piece sushi platter with all the fixings. Not to mention crab Rangoon and icy rum & Cokes. Actually, it was less of a look and more of a girlish squeal. Then an "oooh my gooooodness." Then another squeal. Then a look of confusion as if to say, "Wait...you made this?" He was in awe. So I did good, right?


Then it was time for the moment of truth. 

Luke took a bite...and loved it. He said it was just as good as a restaurant's (riiight) and even better than grocery store sushi (so glad I passed on that one).

I took a bite...and I liked it! For the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed the sushi experience. Maybe it was because it contained cooked shrimp instead of raw fish. Maybe because the flavor was much milder than authentic sushi. But I think the real reason my gag reflex wasn't activated was due to the fact that I made it myself, had become comfortable with the ingredients, and knew exactly what was inside. There were no surprises. Well, accept the surprise that I actually liked it.


Luke couldn't stop thanking me. Although, I couldn't really hear what he was saying through his sushi-stuffed praises. He was one happy husband. So happy, that I think I'll start making sushi more often. It was a lot of fun and it's just so beautiful. I'm thinking I'll start to develop a taste for it, too. 

Maybe next time I'll make one of the varieties I found on YouTube. Like the ever-so-healthy and elegant Kentucky Fried Chicken sushi roll. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!


Shrimp & Avocado Sushi
Cooking Light, January 2006
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 8 pieces)

Cookbook Note: Using mashed avocado makes this California-style sushi easy to roll. Use precooked shrimp for an easy shortcut. Serve sushi with the typical accompaniments of wasabi, low-sodium soy sauce, and pickled ginger.

2  cups  uncooked short-grain white rice
1/4  cup  seasoned rice vinegar
1  tablespoon  wasabi (Japanese horseradish)
1  avocado, peeled and mashed
1 1/2  tablespoons  finely chopped fresh cilantro
24  large shrimp, cooked, peeled, and halved crosswise (about 8 ounces)
6  nori (seaweed) sheets
12  chives
12  (7-inch-long) julienne-cut seeded peeled cucumber strips

Prepare rice according to package directions. Stir in vinegar; cover and cool to room temperature.

Combine wasabi and avocado in a small bowl, and set aside. Combine cilantro and shrimp in another small bowl; toss well.

Cut off top quarter of nori sheets along short end. Place 1 nori sheet, shiny side down, on a sushi mat covered with plastic wrap, with long end toward you. Pat 3/4 cup rice mixture evenly over nori with moist hands, leaving a 1-inch border on one long end of nori. Spread 1 tablespoon avocado mixture over rice.

Arrange 8 shrimp pieces, 2 chives, and 2 cucumber strips along bottom third of rice-covered nori.

Lift edge of nori closest to you; fold over filling. Lift bottom edge of sushi mat; roll toward top edge, pressing firmly on sushi roll. Continue rolling to top edge; press mat to seal sushi roll. Let rest, seam side down, for 5 minutes. Slice crosswise into 8 pieces. Repeat procedure with remaining nori, rice mixture, avocado mixture, shrimp mixture, chives, and cucumber.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 365 (16% from fat), Fat: 6.5g (sat 1g,mono 3.4g,poly 1g), Protein: 13.2g, Carbohydrate: 60.3g, Fiber: 3.9g, Cholesterol: 57mg, Iron: 4.3mg, Sodium: 311mg, Calcium: 35mg.


Just Breathe said...

I am very impressed. I don't eat Sushi but I really haven't tried it either. These look very good, I think I would eat them.

InspiredDreamer said...

Hey girl, you CAN see the look on your hubby's face, it's on his Facebook page. :)

Congrats on facing your sushi demons and demolishing them!

Have an Extraordinary Day!

teresa said...

i am very impressed! this looks so good, i love sushi!

Creative Mish said...

I'm not much of a Sushi eater... but dang! These look delish!

Me, Myself and Pie said...

Thanks guys! It's super easy, too!

doggybloggy said...

not bad, not bad at all - I make it all the time - it gets addicting

theUngourmet said...

I've always wanted to try making my own sushi rolls. Great step-by-step instructions!

Fahrenheit 350° said...

I hate sushi too! Hate it! It's the nori - it's so... well... yucky! I am making some for my man, who loves it too, next week - but I'm just leaving out the nori on mine. I don't care!

Emily said...

They look awesome! I love sushi . . . but the hubs and I head out to eat it . . . you have a lucky husband!

Debbie said...

I haven't been able to bond with the sushi yet. And I sure haven't been brave enough to try to make it. You did incredibly well!

Erica said...

oh my gosh! You did such an amazing job! It looks professional- no kidding! You rock! And what a sweet treat for your man. I have never tried sushi! I look at the vegetarian sushi at WFs every time I go...but I always pass....now I might have to give it a go! Hope you have a good weekend- FABLOUS blog btw ;)

Grace @ Ruby Moon Designs said...

Looks fabulous, and quite professional for your first time! My hubby and I {LoVe} sushi...but we always opt for going out to get it or buying it at our local store...but you making it, now that's love! I bet your hubby enjoyed it!

Blessings, Grace

Eileen said...

You Are Amazing!! And your photos are always so fantastic! :)
{And that was just sooo sweet and romantic that you make sushi for Luke!}

Me, Myself and Pie said...

You guys are all so sweet! Thanks for the kind comments! They make my day. =)

Erin said...

Happy SITS Saturday! That looks wonderful and now I'm craving sushi at 7:30 in the morning. I might have to actually get brave and try to make it.

Nicole Renee said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog today, your story is so great. I don't like sushi either, and my boy does. not as much as yours though thank goodness. Really glad he liked it that is always nice. Looks like you put a lot of time and effort into it. Congrats on making sushi and it being edible! Far better than I would have been able to do. " )

Betsy (zen-mama.com) said...

YUM!!! I absolutely love sushi. I used to make it a lot. This will get me started again. Can't wait to look through the rest of your website! Happy SITs Sharefest!

Tina Lane said...

I am IMPRESSED! Count me in as a sushi fanatic.

Katie said...

I'm with ya - raw fish, no thank you. I've never even attempted to eat sushi. But I like all the things in yours, so maybe I'll make this too! And my husband equally enjoys his rum and Coke!

Stephanie said...

Awesome! My hubby loves Sushi and I don't. I may surprise him with this.....

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