Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spicy Tuna Hand Roll - Sushi Video Series

The easiest sushi to make is a Hand Roll. And for my next Sushi Recipe Video I'll have you literally eating out of my hands.

When you dine at the sushi counter in a Japanese restaurant it can be intimidating -- all that precise assembling and slicing choreography.

Making a Hand Roll is like making a flatbread (or tortilla) sandwich roll. Just slice up some veggie and fish ingredients and pile it on a sheet of seaweed (known as Nori) half covered with cooked sushi rice -- then roll it into the shape of a pointy-end snow cone.

Japanese chefs work overtime on visual presentation, but a Hand Roll is more about what you put in, than how it looks.

For this Hand Roll I'm using Spicy Tuna. And Spicy Tuna is just mayo and hot sauce (usually Sriracha Spicy Chili Sauce, or an imitation brand) mixed into chopped raw tuna. But any hot sauce can be used.

(For a cheaper hand roll scroll go to the end of my blog post under Hindsight, and read about making one with imitation crab - I'll have a fake crab recipe, with photos and text, posted in a few weeks, too.)

If you made my Nigiri Tuna Sushi from the last blog post then you may have saved some tuna scraps. A hand roll is perfect for the small trims of tuna, any uneven pieces, and unattractive cuts. (When I make sushi I never throw away the fish scraps, unless it's just too stringy or chewy.)

The only tricky thing is spreading out sticky rice and rolling the Hand Roll. And even that isn't too difficult.

For handling sticky rice just dampen your hands. And for rolling, roll the loaded seaweed diagonally, and seal it with dampened fingertips -- the ingredients will hold together in a sleek black wrap.

With a hand roll the rice doesn't have to be perfect sticky sushi rice. You can use any favorite rice recipe. The sheet of dried seaweed will hold it all together.

You will need a good cut of raw fish (I get mine free from my fisherman neighbor Don, click here to see video.) For this recipe I used fatty tuna. I used a leaner cut of tuna for my Nigiri Tuna Sushi video recipe from a last week. And Click here for  a list of fish commonly used for sushi.

Probably the most unusual ingredient for a Sushi Roll is dried seaweed. They come in 8 inch square thin sheets; anywhere from 10 to 30 sheets to a package. I get mine at Oriental markets, but they are now being sold in some regular chain grocery stores. If you have a Little Tokyo or Chinatown nearby, then you can find dried seaweed, for a decent price. The best price I've found is 30 sheets for $2.49 -- that's less than 10 cents per sheet! Even if you have to pay twice as much, you will surely use up the whole package trying out everything in my Sushi Recipes Video Series.

I was intimidated to try making sushi for a long time, but now I do it frequently. The main thing is to do it a few times -- with a couple of mistakes under your belt, you will get better. I have.

So do check back for more sushi recipes, including a cheap, easy-to-make, California Roll, that's made with krab, cucumber and creamy avocado.

  Spicy Tuna Hand Roll- VIDEO 

Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients for Spicy Tuna (2 to 4 rolls)
  • About 6 ounces of tuna - skinless and no bones. I used fatty tuna for this recipe.
  • 3 tablespoons mayo - I used light mayo. Add more or less to desired creaminess.
  • 1 teaspoon Sirracha Chilli Sauce - can also use a favorite hot sauce, grated horseradish, or a pinch of ceyanne pepper. Okay to add a little at a time to reach desired spicyness.

Other Ingredients
  • About 2 cups cooked Sushi Rice - for my Sushi Rice recipe, click here for text with photos, or scroll down to the end for video only.) You can use any type of cooked rice for a hand roll.
  • 1-2 sheets of dried seaweed - sliced in half
  • Favorite thinly sliced veggies - carrot, green onions, cucumber or avocado. For a hand roll, fill it up with any favorite sliced veggies, raw or lightly steamed.

Directions for Spicy Tuna Hand Roll
Have Sushi Rice at the ready, room temperature. To see my Sushi Rice recipe, click here.

Mix mayo and Sirracha Chilli Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) in a bowl. Add a little hot sauce at at time and taste, to bring up to desired spicyness.

Roughly chop raw tuna into small pieces. Mix chopped tuna with spicy mayo. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Thinly slice favorite veggies such as: carrot, green onion, cucumber and avocado. Slices can be long or short. You can use packaged shredded carrot or peel and slice your own.

For whole carrots just peel off skin and chop off ends. Split carrot in half across the middle, then split one more time lengthways. Finally slice carrot segments thinly.

For cucumbers slice in half lengthwise and spoon-out seeds. You can peel some of the cucumber or not.

For green onion slice off the green stems and give the stems one more slice lengthwise. (While the green stems are tasty they are tough to bite through, so slicing them thinly makes it easier.) You can sprinkle in some of the chopped white onion pieces too. (Discard green onion root and any wilted stems parts.)

Next, slice dried seaweed in half. It's kind of brittle so handle carefully. Please note that dried seaweed is super-obsorbant, so make sure cutting surface, your hands, and the knife are dry.

Time to bring it all together. Place halved seaweed section, lengthwise, on a dry surface. Dampen fingers and spread on a layer of Sushi Rice over about one half of the seaweed. Just enough rice to cover the surface, no need to pile it on too thick.

Now add spicy tuna on the rice-side of the seaweed. It's up to you how much fish to add - a thick or thin layer. Again, once you've made a few Hand Rolls then you will get better at figuring out the amount of rice to fish you like.

 Okay lets wrap it up! Lay on your veggie slices diagonally over the spicy tuna and rice. Next, roll the seaweed in a diagonal direction: bottom left side to upper right side. (I'm right handed, but if you're left handed then make the hand roll filling on the right side of the seaweed, and roll it bottom right to top left.)

Finally seal the Hand Roll with a bead of water. When you have rolled it up moisten fingertips and wipe the seaweed end-edge and press it together. It should seal up and stick together easily.

The end result will look like an ice cream cone with the pointy end. You can make Hand Rolls one at a time or all at once.

If you don't like raw carrot, it's okay to seam for a few minutes to desired softness. This pertains to any veggie you like to use.

It's up to you how much veggies, rice and fish you add to each roll. You can be generous or skimpy doling out the spicy fish.

I know sushi grade raw fish is way expensive. A cheap seafood substitution is krab. You've seen the small frozen packages in seafood deli cases, and even laid out with fresh fish. It's tasty and you don't have to pry it out of a shell. Sometime the quality is suspect. It can be a little dried out from freezing for too long. An easy way to reconstitute, after defrosting, is to sprinkle on a little water, loosely cover, and do a 30 second micorwave (take out pieces as they get warm and soft, and continue to zap in 10 second increments, if krab pieces are still cool.) The krab will soften and plump up perfectly. Finally do a rough chop and mix it with the some Spicy Mayo.

Hand Rolls work well with imperfect rice, too. Since the rice is in a wrap, you can use reheated cooked rice from another day, or even defrosted from the freezer. Just make sure the rice is heated to room temperature.

You can easily use brown rice, just follow my Sushi Rice directions. And after the rice is cooked, let it set for an extra 10 minutes. Brown rice is toothsome with an extra nutty flavor, and more nutritious.

Sushi Rice Recipe Video

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuna Nigiri Sushi - Video Series

My experience with sushi goes way back, to the mid-1970's. Little did I know that when I moved to Los Angeles, an explosion of sushi dining was underway. My first job in the "biz" was as a video editor for a Japanese-owned post production company.

I was lucky enough to eat out almost every week at a different sushi restaurant -- on the company's dime! Growing up in the South, we did not eat raw fish, just raw oysters. Everything else was fried and I liked it that way. I was quite wary when my first plate of raw fish was placed in front of me, but I knew it was a test to get along with everyone at work -- I just dived in.

My workmates knew this and so they started me out on milder cuts of raw fish like tuna and salmon. While the first bite was more fish-tasting than I expected, it was not objectionable. I immediately liked the sensuous tender texture. And watching the sushi chef in action, I knew there was care and expertise at work behind the refrigerated glass counters -- displaying clear plastic wrapped filets of beautiful orange marbled salmon, rosy red tuna, and chilling cuts of seafood I'd never seen.

I quickly moved on to musky silver-skinned mackerel and pungent creamy sea urchin. It was literally love at first bite.

For my first sushi stop motion animated video I prepare Tuna Nigiri Sushi. It's a gateway sushi that most novices start with. But it's also sushi that's highly prized when done right. I was spoiled in my first sushi dining experiences, but I won't let that stop me from cutting corners, getting seafood cheaply wherever I can.

I can only make this video because of the generosity of my neighbor Don. He goes out to Baja, Mexico once or twice a year deep sea fishing for bluefin (maguro) and yellowtail (hamachi) tuna. And, I am the sometime recipient of his largess. He'll knock on my door and say: "Come on over with an empty bag, we had a good catch this time." And he hands out 4 or 5 of the most beautiful vacuumed packages of fresh caught tuna -- for free! To see what I am writing about, just click here to see the video post I did last month.

It pays to be friendly and chat with your neighbors. But if you are not as lucky as I am, don't worry, I have plenty of sushi recipes coming up that anyone can afford, like a California Roll recipe that's made with fake crab (which is priced cheaply at any market.) And if you are not a pescatarian, then do check back because I have another vegetarian sushi option: Portabella Mushroom Sushi.

The thing with sushi is what a big deal the Japanese make of it. Now I'm all for perfection, but they take it way too far. The rice has to be short-grained sushi rice and the fish preparation is way too convoluted. (Just check out the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi sometime - click here to see the trailer.) If you can find fresh fish from your local grocery fishmonger or a fisherman friend that's good enough. As for rice, I use regular long grain rice, it makes a decent sushi rice and the average person will not know the difference. My Sushi Rice video recipe is here.

Making Nigiri Sushi is not that hard. You will get better after a few tries at it. The hardest part is dealing with Japanese-style sticky rice. You want to make small 2 1/2 x1 1/2 inch ovals of rice that the raw slices of fish rest on. But if you keep your hands moistened with water, even that becomes easy to do. I would recommend steaming some Sushi Rice using my recipe and practice making a dozen or so ovals of rice - before you defrost and slice the raw tuna. That way you don't waste any expensive fish. And use a cheap topping like my recipe from a couple of weeks ago of Nigiri Carrot Sushi (click here to get the details.)

As for the raw fish you want to make blocks that are 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches wide and as long as the tuna steaks come. Then you just slice them across the grain into individual sushi pieces that fit on the sushi rice ovals. The tuna slices and rice ovals don't have to be a perfect uniform size. The tuna slice can be larger than the rice oval. And the rice ball can be square or longer -- it will taste delicious no matter how it looks. Is the rice oval lopsided and the tuna slice crooked? Don't worry about it; you'll get better with practice. Just go for it!

If you've had sushi before, you'll notice there is a slight heat that follows the cool tuna and sweet rice. That comes from a small smear of wasabi hidden underneath the tuna slice. Wasabi is a spicy root that is shaved and turned into a green paste. It is very similar to grated horseradish. Oriental and specialty markets carry it frozen. But I've substituted horseradish, and if you don't tell anyone, they will not notice the difference. Of course, you can leave it out completely and go for a mild sushi eating experience.

The final accompaniment to eating sushi is soy sauce. I like to use low sodium, as soy sauce is too salty and overpowers the mild flavor of some fish. For Nigiri sushi you normally dip the fish side into soy sauce, not the rice side. You don't need to soak the fish either, just a thin coat of soy sauce is all that's needed. Since you have wasabi in the assembled sushi pieces you don't need to mix wasabe into the soy sauce (as may sushi bar patrons mistakenly do.) Click here to see a video about how to eat sushi.

Well that's a quick rundown on making and eating Tuna Nigiri Sushi. Just check out my fun stop motion video below to see how simple and quick it is to do.

So, make sure to wash your hands before handling raw fish. And check back for more tasty and cheap$kate sushi recipes.

Tuna Nigiri Sushi  - VIDEO 

Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 14 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

 Ingredients (about 6-8 pieces)
  • 4-6 ounces of raw fish - I used tuna. Okay to use any fresh seafood like: salmon, red snapper, yellowtail, halibut, seabass, flounder, sea urchin, fish eggs, and scallop. Cooked seafood includes: octopus, squid, mackerel, shrimp, eel and crab or fake krab. For a typical sushi restaurant seafood list, click here.
  • 1 cup of sushi rice - depending how large you make the rice ovals for the sushi slices, you may need a little more. Click here to see my Sushi Rice recipe with text and photos, or scroll down to the end of this post to see the video only.
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce - I like to use low sodium for dipping the prepared sushi. Mix in a little wasabi or horseradish for heat, optional.
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated wasabi - okay to substitute grated horseradish. Usually a pinch is applied between fish and rice oval.
  • Small bowl of water - to moisten hands during making of rice ovals. Sushi rice is very sticky, so you need to keep your hands wet to make forming rice easier.

You want to break down your raw fish into slabs that are cut about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches across. It can be as long as you want it. Then you can slice the fish thick or thin for your sushi. It's up to you how generous each piece of sushi  you are serving will be. Each slice doesn't have to be exact - with practice you will get better at measuring. You just want the rice oval and sushi slice about the same size.

And make sure your knife is sharp. An easier way to slice soft tuna steak is to firm it up in the freezer. Just put the plastic wrapped steak in the freezer about an hour until semi-firm. It doesn't need to be rock hard, just firm so slicing is easier. Remove, unwrap, and slice the tuna.

The main thing is that each fish slice matches your formed rice ovals. If some fish slices are too big, that's okay, I'm sure your guest or partner will not complain. And any small scraps of tuna can be set aside or frozen, and used for a Spicy Tuna Roll (recipe coming soon.) Or, since you are not at a sushi restaurant, were perfection is emphasized, you can combine irregular tuna pieces on formed rice ovals.

When slicing raw fish you want to cut across the grain, so each slice will hold its shape and not split apart when handling. Again, with practice you will get the hang of it. It's similar to slicing a slab of steak.

On a small plate half add a teaspoon of grated wasabi or horseradish. Set out a cup of sushi rice at room temperature. Also set out a small bowl of water.

Now time to bring it all together. Dampen hands and grab a ping pong ball-size of rice in your hand. Gently roll it around in your palm to form a ball. Lightly squeeze in your fist and roll the rice to form an oval. Press harder toward the end, when the shape is about right. You can use the moistened fingers of your other hand to help press and shape the rice oval.

The end result is an oval of rice that is about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. It doesn't have to be perfect -- a little larger is okay. The main thing is to squeeze the rice together hard enough so it holds together when eating sushi.

Finally take a pinch of wasabi, or horseradish, and smear it on one side of fish. Then place the fish wasabi-side against the rice. Now it's ready to eat. (It's okay to leave out spicy wasabi or horseradish.)

You can make a couple of sushi pieces at a time, or all at once.

Set out a small plate or bowl of soy sauce for dipping sushi. You can stir a pinch of wasabi into the soy sauce instead of under the tuna. It's optional -- taste the mixture for desired heat. (Sushi chefs will spice the pieces of sushi with wasabi, so normally you will just use soy sauce straight from the bottle.) Of course you can leave out wasabi or horseradish for a mild sushi eating experience.

It's best to dip the sushi fish-side into soy sauce. If you dip sushi rice oval into soy sauce it may fall apart before it reaches your mouth. And your bowl of soy sauce will fill up with grains of rice.

Normally you eat sushi in one bite, that's why each piece is small. My video has sushi eaten away in small bites, that's just for fun -- don't eat it as my video shows.

Sushi Rice Video 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Jewish St. Patty's Day - Recipes

St. Patrick's Day is the time to dress in green and put on your yarmulke? That's if your combining the cuisines of the Emerald Isle and the Promised Land. And you'll feel like you've found that leprechaun pot o' gold at the end of the Western Wall when you try my luscious Jewish recipes using Irish corned beef, that's now on sale this week.

I like traditional Irish corned beef and cabbage and it's easy enough to make, but for the money I like my corned beef between 2 slices of rye and topped with a cabbage coleslaw, Jewish deli-style. So just keep on reading to see my tasty recipes below for Deli Corned Beef and Homemade Pastrami.

If you didn't notice, this week is the time of cheap hunks of corned beef -- starting at $1.39 per pound! I usually clear out my freezer for this St. Patrick's Day beef celebration and stock up on a few corned beef briskets. They freeze well and I like to smoke them during my patio summer cookouts.

Corned Beef is easy to make. To a pot of water, just add the package of herbs (that come in the corned beef package) and toss in a few chopped veggies. You can boil the corned beef on the stove top or bake it in the oven. I prefer the oven method, so you get a slight browned crust, but the inside will still be moist.

You'll also want a batch of coleslaw to go along with my Homemade Deli-Style Corned Beef Sandwich. Especially when cabbage is selling for pennies a pound this week. Just click here to get my Deli Coleslaw recipe.

In my Pastrami Recipe Video below, I show you how to brine a beef brisket in the refrigerator for a week. But when you by a package of corned beef, you can skip that stage and go right to cooking it. A package of herbs is included with corned beef. I like to grind up the herbs, add some pepper, and that becomes the dry rub for a pastrami. And the final stage is to smoke the pastrami for about an hour. Click here to see Pastrami Recipe photos and text (along with the video, too.)

This St. Patty's Day post is all about the beef. So stock up on corned beef and get to cooking. And you can be sure that the Blarney Chef is not full of it this time - these are some of my best recipes.

Homemade Deli Pastrami - VIDEO

Play it here. Video runs 4 minutes 4 seconds.

Corned Beef Recipe Ingredients
  • 1 whole corned beef
  • Water - enough to cover brisket.
  • 1 whole chopped carrot - optional
  • 1 whole chopped onion - optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic - fresh or from jar.
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • packet of herbs that come with corned beef

Add enough fresh water to cover the brisket by an inch. Add the chopped veggies and bay leaf. Bring up the water to a boil, then lower the heat for a low simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 4 hours.

Check every hour or so to make sure the broth does not cook out. Add a 1/4 cup of water at a time, if needed. That's it -- just remove the corned beef and let it cool down enough to slice and serve.

For an oven version, add the veggies, then cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 3 hours. Finally, remove the cover and finish baking another hour -- this will give a nice dark brown color to the outside of the meat.

When slicing the corned beef for sandwiches make sure to cut across the grain of the meat. Of course, you'll want to try out a slice to see how yummy it is. Notice the lean meat and its rosy color inside.

For a Deli-style Corned Beef Sandwich just add mustard to rye bread. Layer on your favorite cheese, corned beef and coleslaw. From a 2.67 pound of corned beef brisket, I made 3 sandwiches. I served them to my wife, mother-in-law and our neighbor Deb -- they all raved how delicious it was. I hope you will like it too!

Directions for Cooking Pastrami - using corned beef

Remove corned beef from the package. Add brisket to a large pot with a cover and fill it with water to just above the meat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, cover and simmer for at least 3 hours. Check on it from time to time to make sure the water doesn't cook out (the water can cook out by a third, that's okay, as the meat will continue to steam.)

When finished boiling, remove the meat and set it to drain. Make the dry rub to coat the meat for smoking. Mix the pepper and coriander and coat all sides of the brisket.

Dry Rub Ingredients for Smoking
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander - they are the tan brown seeds in the herb package that normally comes with corned beef.
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper - okay to use less. Sometimes black pepper can overpower everything, but I like my pastrami that way.
  • Wood chips for smoking the pastrami in a BBQ grill -- about 4 cups.

Now time to smoke it. You mainly need an outdoor grill with a cover. I have a 2 burner gas grill. The object is to smoke the meat with indirect heat. That is, place the meat as far away from the flame as possible. The meat is already cooked, so you just want to smoke it at this stage. If you have a simple outdoor charcoal bbq grill then build a fire way off to one side.

The flame is for a pan of wood chips. You could even loosely wrap a large handful of chips in aluminum foil and place over hot coals or the gas flame.

Depending how hot the flame is, the wood chips should start smoking in 5 to 10 minutes. When the smoke starts, place the boiled brisket as far away from the flame as possible and cover the grill tightly. Check every 10 minutes or so and replace the wood chips with fresh ones as they cook away, if needed. I smoked my pastrami for an hour. Even just a half hour of smoking will still give you a great flavor and a crunchy crusted pastrami.

In the hour of smoking I had to replace the blackened wood chips a couple of times. The meat will still heat up and brown, even away from the heat. If you are using a coal burning grill your smoking time may be shorter, as they often burn hotter than a more controllable gas grill (about half an hour of smoking?) The length of time it takes for the wood chips to stop smoking is all the time you really need.

After the pastrami is smoked, place it on a cutting board, slice across the grain, and make a big fat pastrami sandwich, your way!

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