With these warmer temperatures, I mean it’s almost hit 40° around here, I thought that I would bring back two of my favorite spring meals (well, I do eat them year round but they are definitely better suited for a spring or summer meal).
I’ll begin with California Rolls and then just scroll down to see Vietnamese Spring Rolls. I still haven’t taken new pictures to share but have cropped these older step-by-step photos I showed before here and here. Other than the photos most of the text should be the same.
Note: There are also lots of how-tos and videos of how to make the rolls and the sushi rice out there; all you need to do is type what you want into a search engine. Most of the ingredients and tools can be found online as well (Amazon has nori, wasabi powder, hangiris and bamboo mats) but even my local IGA market carries the items I use, including the wasabi and the nori.
· 1 large avocado
· 1/2 package imitation crab (or real crab if you have it)
· 1 large cucumber
· about 2 cups prepared sushi rice (see note below)
· nori (pressed seaweed wrapper)
NOTE: Rice - you need a short grain rice. I've purchased it in the bulk section of many stores under the name sushi rice; I've also just used the Cal-Rose brand with good results. The purpose of this rice is to make sure it's sticky and a long grain just doesn't do the trick. DO NOT USE INSTANT RICE!
To prepare the rice: The rice is cooked however you usually prepare rice (stove top or rice cooker usually). I use equal parts rice and water (usually 2 cups to 2 cups) and put it in the rice cooker (it's easy, I just fill it up with the rice and water, put the lid on, push the lever down to cook and walk away). While the rice is cooking I prepare the sushi rice vinegar if I don't already have some made up which I usually do.
In a small sauce pan heat 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar (rice vinegar has a milder flavor than just plain white vinegar but I have used that as well and if that's what you have the just use it) with 2 tablespoons of white sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook over medium heat but do not bring to a boil. Once the sugar and salt is dissolved then remove from heat.
After the rice is cooked I spoon it out into a non-reactive container to cool; of course by non-reactive I mean non-metal (the metal can react to the vinegar mixture and distort the taste). Traditionally a hangiri is used but they can be expensive (although nowadays they are becoming more prevalent and therefore you can find some economical ones - it's something on my wish list). A hangiri is a shallow tub made of wood that keeps the rice moist while the rice is seasoned and cools down. You'll want something wide and shallow so the rice can cool somewhat quickly and evenly. I've used a shallow wooden salad bowl (the big serving bowl) and I've also used my regular 9in x 13in casserole dish.
Here's my mise en place:
· bowl with water and dishcloth
· cutting board
· Bamboo sushi mat covered in plastic wrap (Note: The plastic wrap makes for easy clean up. I've found the small bamboo sushi mats all over for a buck or two. If you don't have one I used a kitchen towel with a layer of plastic wrap (just make sure that you pull the plastic wrap out after the first turn then continue rolling).)
· Kitchen knife
· Wasabi powder or paste (that's what the little can is next to the white bowl).
Just like with the Vietnamese Spring Rolls, I like to have everything cut and in place so I can roll and cut all at once.
I pat down the sushi rice onto the nori leaving the edges bare since things will spill out once I began rolling. I also leave more space at the top to finish it off and end it correctly.
First I add the crab in a row about a third of the way up from the bottom.
Then the yummy avocado on top of the crab.
I'd normally add cucumber here too (I was really hungry for these and didn't have any cucumbers at the time and living way out in the woods I couldn't just run to the store). I begin rolling from the bottom up.
Then I slice. I keep a bowl of water with a dishcloth in it (shown in the top photo) and wipe the blade of the knife down in between cuts to clean it up and keep the mess down while slicing (similar to keeping the knife clean when slicing a cheesecake).
After that it's all about enjoying them with some tamari and wasabi.
I tend to have leftover ingredients for both this and the spring rolls that's why I like to make them pretty close together and leftover cucumbers, crab or avocado can easily be added to the spring rolls. I've also added sticks of carrots and daikon to my California Roll as well. Daddy doesn't like the nori (nor does he like the rice paper wrapper) so it all gets mixed up into a salad for him with the wasabi tamari as dressing.
This is another dish that can be vegetarian/vegan by omitting the crab and packing it with veggies.
I was also going to note that I've kept both the spring rolls and California Rolls in the fridge and didn't find too many problems with taste or texture. For some purists, they would never keep the California Rolls in the fridge believing that they should be eaten once made I however like to have them in my lunch the next day and enjoy them just as much. Play around with it and see what you like... after all it's just food.