More than a roll

Invite your friends to a different sushi night.

Invite your friends to a different sushi night (photo credit: BOAZ LAVI)
Invite your friends to a different sushi night
(photo credit: BOAZ LAVI)
Love sushi? Well, don’t limit yourself to the ordinary. There is an entire age-old culture behind the intricate Japanese cuisine that goes far beyond a roll of rice wrapped in seaweed.
Although sushi chefs study for many years before given permission to touch the fish, you can prepare delicious sushi dishes at home. But it cannot be a spur-of-the-moment thing; you need to prepare and shop at an Asian grocery store for the right ingredients. The most important one is the rice. A good sushi starts with freshly made sushi rice, ponzu sauce and other ingredients such as mirin, seaweed and Japanese pickles. But first and foremost is the rice, which needs to be prepared with great care on the day of cooking.
✔1 kg. (4 cups) round sushi rice
✔ 6 cups water
✔ 1 whole Kombu seaweed
✔ 1 cup good-quality sushi vinegar
✔ 1 cup sugar
✔ 2 Tbsp. salt
✔ 2 Tbsp. mirin (sweet rice wine)
Place the rice in a strainer and rinse under running water until the water is clear.
Transfer to a heavy pot or an electric rice cooker and add the water. Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
Cook the rice over medium heat and slowly bring to a boil. Lower the heat as low as possible, cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel and the lid and cook for 15- 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette: In a separate pot cook together over medium heat the Kombu seaweed, vinegar, sugar, salt and mirin until all the salt and sugar dissolve. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Remove the Kombu seaweed and reserve for later. It can be used for salads and other dishes.
When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a bowl (preferably wooden) and break up the lumps. Using a ladle, gradually pour the vinegar sauce into the rice while mixing with a wooden spoon until all the sauce is absorbed. Let the rice rest for 30 minutes and then cover with a damp towel until ready to use. Do not refrigerate the rice.
Ponzu is another basic component of sushi. It is traditionally used as a dressing or dip. It is citrus–based and mixed with soy, sesame oil and chili.
✔ 200 ml. good-quality Japanese soy sauce
✔ 2 tsp. hot chili oil
✔ 2 tsp. sesame oil
✔ 2 tsp. yuzu juice (or lime juice)
✔ Juice of ½ lemon
Shake all the ingredients in a jar with a lid until well mixed.
✔ 5 Tbsp. mayonnaise
✔ 1 tsp. sesame oil
✔ 1 tsp. Togarashi pepper (a spicy seasoning mixture made from five different peppers, available at Asian stores)
✔ 1 tsp. hot chili sauce
✔ A drop of chili oil
Mix together until smooth.
Makes 4
Inari is a tofu pocket that is imported canned from Japan. The inari is cooked in mirin. Although it is canned, it is delicious and easy to stuff with almost anything.
✔ 2 tofu pockets, cut in half
✔ 60 gr. cooked sushi rice divided into 4
✔ 20 gr. fillet of salmon
✔ 20 gr. fillet of tuna
✔ 20 gr. white fish
✔ 20 gr. avocado
✔ 1 Tbsp. black sesame
✔ 4 Tbsp. ponzu sauce
✔ 1 tsp. chili oil
✔ 1 tsp. green onion or chives, chopped
Cut the fish and the avocado into very small cubes and place in a large bowl. Add the ponzu, chili oil and green onions. It is important that the fish be soaked in the sauce. Set aside.
Place the 4 pockets on a plate. Roll each part of the rice into an oval ball and place in each pocket. Heap ¼ of the fish mixture on top of each pocket, garnish with black sesame and serve.
Makes 4
✔ 2 tofu pockets, cut in half
✔ 80 gr. cooked rice
✔ 20 gr. (¼) avocado
✔ 20 gr. shiitake or champignon mushrooms
✔ 20 gr. kampyo (8 strips of Japanese pickled pumpkin)
✔ 20 gr. cucumber (about ¼)
✔ 20 gr. carrots, cooked
✔ Handful chopped green onion
✔ Black sesame
✔ 5 Tbsp. ponzu
✔ 1 tsp. chili oil
Dice all the vegetables and place in a bowl.
Add ponzu and chili and mix well to coat all the vegetables. Place the 4 pockets on a plate.
Roll each part of the rice into an oval ball and place in each pocket. Heap the vegetable mixture on top, sprinkle sesame and serve.
Makes 4
These are rice balls with chopped vegetables and wrapped with fish. They look more like pops than felafel. We calculate 2 balls per person.
✔ 300 gr. prepared sushi rice
✔ 50 gr. (handful) pickled ginger, chopped finely
✔ 4 strips kampyo, very thinly sliced
✔ 3 or 4 Tbsp. black sesame
✔ 80 gr. fresh fish (salmon, tuna or any good white fish or a mixture of them)
Note: For a vegetarian version, use avocado instead of fish. Cut the avocado into 4 wide strips.
In a bowl, mix together rice and pickles.
Slice fish (or avocado) into thin, wide strips.
Divide the rice mixture into 8 equal parts and roll each part into a small, tight ball. Place fish slice (or avocado slice) on each rice ball and wrap with plastic wrap tightly, turning it to close. Place the balls in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator, peel off the plastic wrap and serve with ponzu as a dip or with raw tehina mixed with a few drops of chili oil.
Makes 4
Gunkan is a rice ball wrapped with seaweed or fish. The amounts listed below are for 8 balls.
For wrapping 15 to 20 gr. each red tuna and salmon, cut into 13-cm. long and 3 or 4-cm. wide strips. Don’t make the strips too thin or they will not be able to hold the filling.
For the filling
✔ 160 gr. prepared rice
✔ 25 gr. each tuna and salmon
✔ 2 tsp. green onion, chopped
✔ 2 tsp. black sesame
✔ Tempura flakes (ready-made ones)
✔ Spicy mayonnaise (see recipe above)
✔ Chives for garnish
To prepare tartar: Chop the fish into small cubes. Place each fish in a different small bowl. Add to each: 1 tsp. chopped green onion, 1 tsp. black sesame, ½ Tbsp. of spicy mayonnaise and about 1 tsp. of tempura flakes. Mix well.
Prepare 8 balls from the rice. Place the fish strips flat on a work surface. Place one ball on each strip and roll. Turn the rolls. Place a heap of fish tartar on each roll. Place tuna tartar on a salmon roll and salmon tartar on the tuna rolls.
To hold the rolls and for decoration, you can use a chive to tie around each roll.
Sprinkle with tempura flakes, black sesame or green onions.
Makes 4
The Kombu weed is dark and rather coarse and is very rich in minerals. It grows in deep cold water. These weeds are a part of the traditional Japanese winter nutrition. In Chinese medicine and macrobiotics, Kombu is used to treat spice problems and hormonal glands. Use the Kombu from the sushi to make this fresh and piquant salad, which is also very healthy.
✔ 1 Kombu salad used for preparing sushi*
✔ 80 gr. bean noodles
✔ Handful sunflower sprouts
✔ 4 Tbsp. ground salted roasted peanuts
✔ 1 Tbsp. black sesame
✔ ½ cup ponzu sauce
✔ 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
* If you do not have cooked Kombu from the rice, cook the Kombu in water until softened but not too soft.
Wash the Kombu and cut into thin strips. Soak the bean noodles in hot water for 10 minutes and strain.
In a bowl, mix together Kombu, bean noodles, sunflower sprouts and 2 Tbsp. ground peanuts.
In a separate jar, mix together the ponzu sauce and sesame oil. Pour the dressing on the salad and toss well using your hands. Keep tossing until all the dressing is absorbed.
Divide the salad into 4 serving bowls and garnish with black sesame and the remaining peanuts. 
Recipes and photos courtesy of Seatara Restaurant. 8 Herzl Rosenblum Street, Sea&Sun (03)6996633 Open 8:30 a.m. - midnight, Saturday from 9 a.m.