Thursday, April 3, 2014

Making Sushi: Tuna Poke Rolls

Poke and smoked salmon sushi by one of my students. These kids do good work!
We are rolling some rice tonight. My college students are making sushi. One of the great things about sushi: you can use your imagination to combine ingredients to make a roll that is tasty to you. Since we're on a budget in these classes, we need to stretch expensive ingredients. High quality fish is not cheap, so sushi rolls are a great way to make things like ahi tuna go further. We made up a tuna poke (po-key), which is Hawaii's version of tuna sashimi. It's often served on fried wonton chips but here we rolled it inside a sushi roll.

How do you get high quality ahi tuna? Use you nose. It should smell like fresh mild meat, with no fishy odor. It has a  minerally whiff of the sea, but that's it. Not strong at all. Almost all ahi is flash-frozen at sea, so don't be deterred by frozen ahi. If you buy it still frozen, you'll know that it had no chance to degrade on its way to you. It's easier to dice the tuna when it is still slightly frozen, so don't defrost it totally before starting the poke.

Tuna Poke Rolls
(makes about 12-16 rolls, depending on how much tuna you stuff in each)

12 oz. ahi tuna, finely diced (it's easier to dice if partially frozen)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
½ Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
a pinch or two of salt
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1 batch sushi rice
nori sheets, 4"-5" high by 7" long (about ½ a sheet)

Possible poke enhancements:
  • diced or sliced avocado
  • sliced cucumber
  • mayonnaise
  • wasabi paste
The poke is great on its own in a roll, but any of these things will make it even better.

The simplest roll is a hand roll, a sushi cone! The trick with sushi rice is work with moistened hands. Sushi rice is really, really sticky. But, if you moisten your hands before grabbing and spreading the rice on the nori, it won't stick to your hands. When you put the rice down on the nori, don't press is down too much. Lightly press it with your fingertips so you don't smash the rice kernels.

Here's what it looks like filled but before rolling up. You'll need about 3 Tablespoons rice.

To roll, bring the bottom left corner up to the upper middle edge, where the rice ends. The top of the cone is the upper left corner.
The roll, turned around. To seal the bottom, you roll the naked nori over the stuffed side.
To finish, moisten the naked nori slightly and fold it around the bottom of the cone. Then eat! No fork required.
Dahlia enjoying her poke roll

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