Sushi & Tofu

IMG_3240You might find it hard to believe, but I am not someone who is very adventurous when it comes to trying new foods: I like to stick to what I know. I’ve come a bit further down the line then where I was a few years a go. I never thought the day would come when I would actually enjoy snacking on cold rice which is essentially what I summed up sushi to be. I was first introduced to sushi whilst at university about 12 years ago. My housemate’s girlfriend at the time is Japanese and she would often prepare sushi at the weekend with him. She must have cornered me or something because I went from going in the kitchen to wash dishes to clapping down a ‘scrambled egg mayo’ sushi she had made. I wouldn’t say it was like fireworks in my mouth (sorry it does get better believe me), but my interest was peaked.

The second occasion was probably another 10 years after that, this time it was salmon. But again the whole ‘lets go  Yo Sushi’ vibe didn’t really sit well with me. I wanted cooked food. Until one day whilst hovering around in Sainsbury’s looking for something else, I came across a Sushi Kit. And so I thought, OK if I’m going to get over this fear of Sushi I have to take it on…and make it my own. So I apologise from now to any Sushi lovers, but I have made some adaptations. I am on the bridge, I have yet to cross over to the over side, but I can see the summit…I’m almost there.

Sushi and Tofu

  • Servings: 4 rolls (6-7 slices per roll)
  • Difficulty: medium
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For this recipe you will need:

250 g Sushi Rice

4 Nori Sheets

Bamboo Rolling Mat

Cling Film

Wasabi Paste (optional)

The method below will assume you have not bought the kit, obviously if you have the kit, you can follow the instructions there!

For the filling, I added the following:

1 Ripe Avocado sliced length ways

1 Red Sweet Pointed Pepper – sliced thinly length ways

1/2 medium onion (grated)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tbsp coconut cream  or sushi vinegar (to add to the rice)

Dash Soya Sauce/ Hoisin Sauce

1 carrot sliced thinly ideally with a julienne peeler 

And for the Tofu

Firm Tofu sliced into 1/2 inch slabs (6 slices on average)

3 tbsp Soya Sauce

3 tbsp Teriyaki Sauce

2 garlic cloves minced

1/2 tbsp honey

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Marinating the Tofu

Before anything else marinade the tofu. Place all the ingredients for the tofu in a saucepan and warm gently to release the flavours. Take a rough guess of how much to make depending on how many slabs of tofu you have prepared. Then pour the mixture over the tofu and making sure it is fully submerged in the marinade. Then refrigerate.IMG_3224

Cooking the Rice

Put the rice into a bowl and wash with cold water. Repeat 3 or 4 times and then drain rice in a sieve. Add 330 ml of water and the washed rice to a saucepan. Bring the rice to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 15 – 20 minutes. Do not open the lid!

While the rice is cooking, and this is entirely optional gently stir fry the peppers and carrots in with the onion and garlic and Hoisin sauce. You still want the vegetables to be crunchy, you are simply flavouring the vegetables before adding them to the rice later. Remove the vegetables from the saucepan and allow them to cool completely.

Layering and Rolling

With the rice still warm, stir in the coconut cream or the sushi vinegar if you prefer. Then let it cool down further. Then set up your equipment: on a hard surface place lay out a clean tea towel for stability. Then place the sushi rolling mat with the lines facing horizontally. Following that, cut some cling film so that its slightly larger than the rolling mat (by 1 inch or two). Then take a Nori sheet and place this on the mat also.  Then take some spoonfuls of rice place then randomly over the Nori sheet, and with your fingers spread the rice out until you have a thin layer covering the sheet.

Next comes the layering, I decided on this order: peppers, carrots and avocado, thinking about how it would look once sliced. I also added a slight drizzle of the marinade from the peppers and carrot. The key is to place the vegetables one inch from the edge and then roll the sheet and mat away from you as if you were rolling up a sleeping bag: tucking it in tightly as you go along.IMG_3233

You should leave about 1/2 an inch around the sheet ‘green’ so that you can seal the sushi roll when you reach the end with water if necessary, When you get to the end of the sheet give the sushi a final roll in the mat to even out the shape, the cling film should be fully wrapped around it by this time. Then twist the two end like a sweetie wrapper.  Place each of the rolls in the Fridge. When this is done, place the Tofu in the oven or under the grill for 10-15 mins. By the time the Tofu is ready the Sushi should be cool enough to slice into 1 inch sections.

Serve with wasabi paste, or pickled ginger or soy sauce. Try alternative fillings e.g. crispy salmon and cucumber.

Chinese Pot Stickers

IMG_2832Ah! The day I discovered pot stickers: I was introduced to these fancy dumplings by a close Malaysian friend of mine who also shares my fascination with food from around the world. She told me about a restaurant off Liverpool Street in London called Ping Pong who apparently churned out these steamed parcels all day and night.

It happened to be Chinese New Year 2013 celebrations that weekend, so when we discovered that Ping Pong were also throwing together ‘Dumpling Classes’ to celebrate the year of the Snake, we signed up straight away. In the end we didn’t end up going…pretty much how most of my adventures with my friend ended up, but I did manage to persuade another friend of mine to try the restaurant out. Setting: Ping Pong Restaurant; In the midst of our discourse about the failing economy, social injustice and men our intense conversation was interrupted by these delicate yet crispy parcels correctly entitled Gyoza’s. Here begginneth my relationship with the Pot Sticker.

Pot Stickers

  • Servings: 30
  • Difficulty: medium
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½ cup (or 4) Spring Onions finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

2 cups Chinese white cabbage, finely shredded

1 cup carrots, grated

2-3 garlic cloves chopped

1 sachet black bean sauce (120g)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 package round gyoza skins or wonton wrappers (around 30)

Salt to taste

1 egg (whisked) or water (in a bowl)

Vegetable Stock cube or jelly

In a Wok or large saute pan, add a little oil and saute garlic and ginger. Add the mushrooms and stir.

Add the cabbage, carrots and onion. Keep frying until the mixture is soft, and then place in colander to drain. IMG_2816Save the drained liquid.

Stir in the black bean sauce little by little, just enough to taste, you don’t want soggy vegetables or a puddle of black bean juice.

Add the sesame oil when mixture is cooled. Check for seasoning. Set aside to cool down.

Lightly flour your chopping or side board.

Take a gyoza skin, lay flat on board. Take a level teaspoon of the vegetables making sure you get a good mix and place in centre of circle.

Then take egg wash or water and wash the circumference of the skin (always wanted to say that word).

Now fold the wrapper in half like an envelope, sealing it to form a half-moon shape, keeping the bottom flat.

Then pinching the corner (I start with the right) fold the corner inwards, like making a paper fan, pressing each fold gently.

 

IMG_2819In a hot non-stick pan, coat with oil and place dumplings.

When bottom gets brown, mix together the drained liquid from earlier with the vegetable stock jelly (should make up 1/4 cup of liquid all together), taste and add water if necessary.

Pour over the frying dumplings and cover immediately.

This will steam the dumplings. Carefully watch the dumplings and completely evaporate the water so that the bottom gets crispy again and sticks to the pot.

Serve with Soya Sauce or any dipping sauce of your choice.