green olives and sushi: I will eat it in my house, I will eat it with Little Mouse
Yesterday I realized I had the perfect combination to make sushi rolls in my cupboard. I haven’t attempted making sushi rolls since I was back in college and, while they were good it took forever to make them and they didn’t really function as sushi rolls (using non-sushi rice, no rice vinegar, and not having the towel and knife-trick knowledge off youtube) and so I never tried again. Until yesterday. Yeeeee haaaaa a wow wow 🙂
I had nori (seaweed sheets) left over from my winter soup making; I had a package of sushi rice that I got free last fall when there was a ‘buy 3 regular rice bags and get a specialty rice free’ deal; I had 3 packages of fake crab meat (those strips) when I got them at 3 for 10 sheks at a Russian grocery; I had rice vinegar I bought after my bro got married and I was inspired by the great Japanese food, and finally I had an avocado that needed to be eaten like now. So I went online and watched a couple of sushi roll making vids and decided to go for it. It turned out to be neither long and involved and these things came out PERFECT.
Actually, they came out better than perfect because of the secret ingredient I added to half of them and will never again want to do without. My sushi rolls beat the pants off the super expensive ones at the sushi place close by –and all the other sushi places I’ve eaten at here (ok, so that would 3 times in 10 years). The secret ingredient is sliced green olives.
I cooked a cup of sushi rice in my rice cooker (this makes enough for two people with these sushi rolls. While it was cooking I washed and then thinly sliced two small cucumbers (makes enough for 6 people as I discovered): Cut the cucumber in half longwise, then each half into four more long thin slices. I took the defrosted fake crab sticks from the fridge and, after unwrapping each individually wrapped one, sliced four of them in half, again lengthwise.
When the cooker went to the ‘warm’ setting, I put half a cup of the rice vinegar, nearly 1/4th cup of sugar, a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of olive oil into a small pot and heated it, stirring, until the sugar dissolved. Pour this over your sushi rice and mix gently. Let sit until cool enough to handle with your hands and then stir it a bit more.
While the rice cools, get a clean kitchen towel and spread it on your counter, shortest edge toward you. Cover the towel with a sheet of saran wrap. Lay a sheet of the Nori rough side up on the saran wrap. Now slice open your avocado making a cut all the way around, twist slightly to separate the halves, and remove the pit. Fill that small pot you used to heat the vinegar in with cool water and place at a convenient distance. Wash your hands again but don’t dry after rinsing –use your wet hands to scoop up a slightly larger than an egg amount of your sticky rice and put it at the edge of the seaweed closest to you. Use your fingers to spread it out evenly in a thin (much thinner than you’d think and mine still ended up being double the size around than those little quarter sized ones you get at Sushi places –all good in my opinion!). Continue adding and spreading rice until the entire sheet, less 1 inch at the far end, have some rice. Make sure that you get rice all the way to the other edges. Wet your hands in the pot of water as needed to keep the rice from sticking to you rather than the seaweed.
Rinse your hands again and then place two of your cucumber slices, end to end, at the closest edge to you of the seaweed (now covered with rice). Next to that, again end to end, place two slices of crab stick. Now make two thin slices of your avocado and place those, end to end, on top of the crab sticks. You could add a thin slice of carrot or bell pepper now (or instead of the fake crab). I didn’t. Now evenly space your green olives (not too close together, as you don’t want it overwhelming) so that each leans up against the crab and avocado on their edges. Using your fingers to hold the ingredients in place, slowly roll the edge over until it meets the rest of the seaweed sheet, then use the saran-wrapped towel to continue rolling, putting slight pressure all along the length to get your roll nice and tight but not squished. When you get to that final bit of seaweed that doesn’t have any rice on it, wet your fingers, grab 5 or 6 grains of rice and smear them along its length and then continue rolling.
Almost done! Unwrap the towel and then the saran wrap. Pick up the roll and move it back to the edge of towel and saran closest to you drape towel and saran over it and roll again, again applying only very slight pressure to jell the insides together.
Now it is time to slice. The trick to this is to wet your knife between each slice! If your knife is wet and it is sharper than a butter knife, you will have nice pieces in no time! The two very end pieces are never going to look like the professional ones you buy at sushi places — they don’t even look like those pieces when made by the professionals. They use a trick of flipping them over in the presentation (so that what was the innermost side is what is up) and they put them in the middle of the displayed pieces — these are the ones that always tend to lose structural integrity when you dip them into your soy sauce and lose a lot of rice (and sometimes collapse on you if you really soak them).
It took me less than an hour start to finish to make two rolls cut into 8 slices each (but since mine were nearly double the size around, it was really like a total of 32 pieces!).
I put them out on a wooden cutting board so they looked just like what you get in a restaurant. The first roll, made without the olives, was delicious and restaurant quality. The roll I spontaneously decided to add the green olives to was simply out of this world. It hit ‘best damn sushi roll ever’ with my taste buds.
*I got the olive idea because when I was in college I had a Korean friend who always made a sushi roll version using a pickled radish that was fantastic and I have since missed that salty/spicy/not a word for it/ combination when eating standard sushi rolls.