Sunday, October 15, 2006

sockeyed ... oishii!

Every year, at around this time, schools upon schools of Sockeye salmon return from the sea to spawn in the freshwater, Pacific Northwest streams and rivers of their fishy, fishy youth. With predators at every turn, this dangerous migration provides testament to the awesome power of pure animal instinct and is truly one of the most miraculous sights in nature. Yes, Virginia, this is the dream stuff of Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. But you know what?


Straight from the dingobear kitchen: Smoked Sockeye Oshi-zushi (on the left) and Smoked Sockeye, Persimmons, & Cucumber Nori-maki (on the right) are a feast for the senses.

I don't care! My interest in Sockeye salmon only goes as far as eating Sockeye salmon, whether it's raw, cooked, steamed, grilled, broiled, baked, breaded, buttered, poached, roasted, filleted, steaked, fresh, canned, cured, marinated, or ... especially, if it's smoked. And if my Sockeye is smoked and served as sushi, well, then that's just solid gold, baby, solid gold.

If you're a longtime reader of starfish and waffles, right about now you may feel another one of our dingobear kitchen recipe posts coming on. Well, if that's the case, I'm sorry - you're wrong, kid. I actually have two recipes ... there's my (1) Smoked Sockeye Oshi-zushi and (2) Smoked Sockeye, Persimmons, & Cucumber Nori-maki.

They take a bit of effort and patience to make but give them a try: the Sockeye-lover in you won't regret it.

Smoked Sockeye Oshi-zushi
100 grams smoked Sockeye salmon
1 cup Japanese short-grain rice
1-1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Prep your rice first by washing it. I usually measure mine into a strainer, and then run it under cold water for a minute or two. If you have an electric rice cooker (like I do), transfer your rice to the cooker, add the water, and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you need to cook your rice on top of the stove, transfer the rice to a pot, add the water, bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, lower the heat, then simmer for another 10 minutes.

Whichever method you use, once your rice is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it sit, still covered, for 10 to 15 minutes so the rice can absorb any excess water.

While you wait, prepare your rice vinegar mixture. You'll need this to make your rice sticky, so it'll stay together better when you try to eat your sushi. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Stop whisking when no sugar or salt granules remain. And that's about it for this step.

Transfer the cooked rice to a large, shallow dish or container and, as evenly as possible, slowly pour in the rice vinegar mixture. Next, use a wooden spoon to further blend in the rice vinegar mixture into the rice. Let the rice cool to about room temperature before making the sushi.

Next, transfer the rice using a wooden spoon, plastic spatula, or your hands, into a rectangular mold - for this, I simply use a 4.5" x 9" x 2" tupperware container. Make sure the rice is pressed firmly and evenly into the mold. Next, layer on your smoked Sockeye on top of the rice. Using your hands, press down on the Sockeye to meld it into the rice.

Using a sharp knife, cut the sushi into 1.5 inch squares. Carefully remove and arrange on a plate. Garnish with lemon and serve with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce. Eat!

Smoked Sockeye, Persimmons, & Cucumber Nori-maki
100 grams smoked Sockeye salmon
1 medium-sized Fuyu persimmons
1 cucumber, unpeeled
3 sheets nori seaweed
1 cup Japanese short-grain rice
1-1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

First step: prepare your cucumber. Note you'll only end up using maybe a quarter of the cucumber, the rest you can reserve for something else like a salad. Cut the cucumber into quarters, then cut out all of the seeds. With what's left, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch, matchstick-type strips. You'll need 3 strips, each with at least one side of green skin on them. Set aside.

Next, prepare your Fuyu persimmons. Can't find persimmons? Then use mangoes or peaches. Really, any sweet, fleshy, orange-toned fruit will do. Slice into 1/4-inch, matchstick-type strips. Set aside.

Prep your rice in the same manner as in the Smoked Sockeye Oshi-zushi recipe above. Put a sushi-rolling mat on a flat work surface, then place one nori seaweed sheet on top. Take about a third of your rice and dump it onto the center of your seaweed. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, spread the rice evenly all over, leaving about a 1/2-inch margin on the far-side.

Next, arrange one cucumber strip across the rice, in the middle. Then, line up some persimmons strips in a single line, right below the cucumber. Finally, take a third of your smoked Sockeye and place it on top of the cucumber and persimmons.

Pick up the sushi-rolling mat from the near-side and roll it to meet the far-side such that the rice stays inside the seaweed. Lift the top edge of the mat. Press and snugly roll the seaweed cylinder you've created just a little bit. The adjoined part should be underneath; it'll stick together nicely due to the moisture from the rice. (If it doesn't stick together well, then dip your index finger in some water and add a little moisture manually).

Remove the cylinder from the mat and, with the adjoined part down, place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into 6 pieces. Repeat the above steps with your remaining 2 sheets of nori seaweed.

Arrange your rolls on a nice plate, garnish with baby basil, and serve with wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce. Enjoy!

Looking for other dingobear kitchen recipes? Look on the left side of the main page of starfish and waffles for more original food ideas.


Oh no! starfish and waffles' famous editor - a Sockeye salmon-loving Canadian Brown bear - spots and threatens to usurp the sushi I made myself for dinner.

6 comments:

  1. Oh man..., I just ate and yet this looks unbelievably oishii!!!

    Next time I throw a dinner party potluck, you will definitately be the first invited!! Bring your drink-mixin' arm, that succulent salmon, your sense o' humor, take your shoes off at the door and have a seat on the floor next to me in our tiny apartment!

    And, yes, I will be trying this recipe some time, despite the fact that my sushi rolls always turn out like messy nori burritos...

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  2. -c, anytime you want to invite me over to your place for a potluck, I'm there! Can I bring the editor?

    Admittedly, I find making sushi rolls a bit tricky myself. The toughest part is making the rice correctly so it's, for the lack of a better word - right. If you do try the recipes but already have a tried and true way of making sushi rice, I'd recommmend sticking with your way instead of doing what seems to work for me.

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  3. OHHHHH! OISHIII!!! ISHIDIKIDOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ooooosssaakkkaaa......:)

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  4. that looks so great! I wish I could do that... I can't, I've tried.

    But I admire your skill and agree about the salmon.... good stuff. No. Great stuff.

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  5. Thanks, Katie! Well, if you ever want to try again, now you have a recipe.

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