I do not. eat. sushi. Ever. Partly because of taste. I like hearty meals: mac n’ cheese, spaghetti with pesto, breaded chicken, breaded anything. Partly because of health, oddly enough, as sushi is infinitely more healthy than everything I just listed. I’ve a medical history too long to cover in this blog post, and the components of sushi are a bit too high residue to sit well with me. And as I do not ever eat sushi, I most certainly have never tried to make it.
So sushi it is. But as I must add art to every edible, I give you...
the decorated sushi
how I got here
First, I googled “sushi art” and found this panda bear sushi at the site, toxel.com. OK, my inspiration. Panda bear? Perfect. I live in DC where the Panda Bear is big. Problem was, my “how to make panda bear sushi” search was fruitless. So I'd have to wing it.
Second, I googled “how to make sushi” (see? I really am starting from scratch) and found this site. And I entered this phenomenally huge world of edible art and delicacies. Classic roll, inside out roll, Temaki sushi, Nigiri sushi, Dragon Roll, Rainbow Roll, Pandanni Roll…. I hadn’t the slightest clue what any of this meant. Best stick with classic (maki) sushi. And vegetarian, please. Step one: Feel the nori sheet. What’s a nori sheet? Geez, I’m in trouble.
Third, after some more research, I lined up my basics: a rolling mat, some seaweed (the nori sheet), Japanese rice. Maybe throw in some carrot eyes like the picture. I found almost everything at my local Giant. Rice vinegar, sure, but even the sushi rice and Nori. Then a trip to Whole Foods to find something I could use for the Panda's mouth resulted in Arame Sea Vegetables. OK, here goes.
Make the sushi rice.
Make the ears and eyes
After a little more internet search for "how to roll sushi,” I figured I’d start small with the ears and eyes. I tried to tint some rice with soy sauce to make it black. It was brown. So I added a couple drops of food coloring. Cheating? I learned of “black rice” after the fact. So I spread out my own “black” rice on a bit of Nori and folded a small roll. Then I cut the excess Nori with scissors. (Can I do that?) Two small rolls for the ears, which I sliced into pieces, and two slightly larger rolls for the eyes.
The big roll
I spread out my rice as instructed on a full sheet of Nori, wet hands and all, then used logic to determine the placement of the two eye rolls. I was a little off. But the roll went relatively well considering I was applying logic to a total unknown. Then I sliced the pieces.
Assembling the Panda
I relied mostly on gravity and the sticky nature of things, but I used tiny pieces of dried spaghetti to keep some of the ears on. I used slices of baby carrots for the eyes (as in the photo), Arame sea vegetable strings for the mouth (tedious and difficult, since they are stiff), and I used a hole puncher on a piece of Nori for the nose (I already used scissors, I figured I could use a hole punch). A few slices of cucumber for “bamboo” (to add more than just rice, which I imagine is the dullest sushi ever) and I was done.
While my sushi recipe was simple for a new adventure (rice and a few veggie sticks? No raw fish?), my challenge was the rolling. I had never eaten sushi, rolled sushi, let alone tried to make art from the roll. Clearly I need a bit more finesse. Not quiiiiite like this one, huh? But I'm pleased that I tried something totally foreign to me and with minimally recognizable--and even pretty tasty--results.
What I would have done differently
I’d have started at an Asian supermarket. Since I was focused on the art of wrapping and my ingredients were simple, I thought I could get away with more conveniently located stores. Had I started at the right supermarket, I’d have learned about black rice. What was I thinking? Although the black food coloring worked, I’m pretty sure it's not a Japanese delicacy. Mistake. Second, I’d have taken pictures of the mess in my kitchen after trying to make sushi.