Being an avid cook and gadget freak, one might think that my kitchen would be full of cooking toys and tools. Not the case. I’ve always believed that to cook great meals, one shouldn’t need to have tons of special gear. Not too long ago, someone gifted me a rice cooker. Rice is something I cook a lot and normally whip up in a pot or pan, so my first instinct was to return this very cool looking gadget. On the other hand, I can't tell you how many pots of rice I've ruined over the years from either not adding enough water or rice to the mix, overcooking, or turning the flame too high and having the rice dry out. Add in trying to keep track of two kids while cooking and cooking rice can turn into quite a challenge. And, since Kenya LOVES rice, I finally accepted that a rice cooker might be a nice addition to our kitchen.
If our family could eat sushi every night, we would be very happy. And VERY poor. While sushi is one of the most healthy things you can eat, it is not cheap and if it is, you probably don’t want to be eating it. Still, we love it and when you think about what goes into sushi, the ingredients themselves are not that expensive. All you need is nori (seaweed), rice and a filling (contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be raw. Or fish for that matter). So why not make it at home for a fraction of the price? Even though I was a little nervous at first about trying my hand at making rolls, I knew my Zojirushi rice cooker would help me make perfect sticky white rice (the true secret to sushi rolls). Kenya and I had so much fun patting the rice onto the nori, flattening it and filling it with all kinds of yummy fillings. Kenya downed so many rolls, I was psyched to not be paying sushi restaurant prices. At the end of the day, the money I would have spent taking the family for one sushi dinner probably would have paid for my rice cooker, and the entertainment value of making the rice and rolls ourselves was priceless!
Sushi Cut & Handrolls (Serves 4-5)
- 3 Cups Rice
- 3 Cups Water
- 3 Tbsp Vinegar (I use rice vinegar)
- 1 Tbsp agave nectar
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 8-10 Nori Seaweed Sheets
- Suggested Fillings (feel free to make up your own):
- Cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- Carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- Red Bell Pepper, cut into matchsticks
- Avocado, cut into strips
- Cooked Crab Meat
- Cooked Shrimp, halved
- sesame seeds
Preparation1. Place rice in a strainer and rinse well.
2. Place rice and water in a rice cooker and follow rice cooker directions. If you are cooking rice in a pot, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil on high heat. Turn the heat down to low and cook about 20 minutes, or until the water is almost gone.
3. Place the rice in a wide, shallow bowl or on a large sheet tray.
4. Mix the vinegar, agave and salt in a bowl and then sprinkle over the rice tossing with a wooden spoon.
5. Fan the rice with a magazine or piece of cardboard until cooled (this is a great activity for you kids to help you out). Rice should be shiny, not mushy.
6. For hand rolls, cut a sheet of nori in half lengthwise and place shiny side down on a work surface.
7. Place 1/4 cup of the rice on the left side of the nori sheet. Using wet fingers (this is very important), form the rice into a 3-inch square, patting down the rice, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place some of the fillings on top the rice facing the top left corner. Starting with the bottom left corner, roll the nori over the filling. Continue to roll, ice cream cone-fashion, working towards the right corner of the nori. Seal the edge of the hand roll with water or a few grains of the cooked rice. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
8. For sushi rolls, place a sheet of nori on a bamboo mat or piece of plastic wrap on top of a flexible placemat, with the wider part along the rolling edge of the mat. Spread 1/2 cup of the rice over the surface of the nori, leaving about 1/2-inch of nori on the furthest edge uncovered so you will be able to seal the roll. Press the rice down firmly but gently. Lay choice of fillings on top of the rice. Begin rolling the edge of the bamboo or plastic wrap closest to you, using the mat to press down on the sushi roll firmly but gently as you roll. The nori should stick to itself when the roll is complete. Dip a knife in water and cut the roll into 6 even slices. Repeat for each maki.
9. Arrange the rolls cut side up on a plate and serve with soy sauce.
Soy Sauce (I use low sodium)