Saturday, 14 November 2009

Daring Cooks' Challenge November '09 - Sushi

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the Challenge.
According to their brief, Sushi is much appreciated for its delicate taste and exquisite appearance. Sushi actually means vinegared rice, which is the essential ingredient in every sushi recipe. Sushi is simple and cheap to make at home, needs no special equipment and is an excellent way to use left-overs.
Although sushi in various forms has been around for fourteen centuries, the modern version was invented in Japan where a 'hand-formed' sliced fresh fish and vinegared rice ball was eaten as a snack food. Nowadays, sushi is made with various seafood, meats and vegetables, raw and cooked. The challenge is in four parts

Part 1: Making proper sushi rice you will wash, rinse, drain, soak, cook, dress, and cool short grain rice until each grain is sticky enough to hold toppings or bind ingredients. Then you will use the cooked rice to form three types of sushi:

Part 2: Dragon sushi roll, an avocado covered inside-out rice roll with a tasty surprise filling

Part 3: Decorative spiral sushi, a nori-coated rice roll which reveals a decorative pattern when cut

Part 4: Nigiri sushi, hand-shaped rice rolls with toppings

I don't think I was 100% motivated and focused on this challenge as E was diagnosed with Bell's palsy a few weeks ago (after an eventful weekend spend at the hospital. When it first started, they weren't too sure what it was. So they decided to admit him to hospital to run more tests (in case it was a stroke or something similar).. After a day, they detected that it was centralised to his face (i.e. didn't affect the rest of the left side of his body) so they put him on steroids and told him to be patient, that he would eventually recover movement.

Patient is not a word in E's vocabulary, so as you can imagine it's been a trying few weeks. I've had him kicking around the house for the last few weeks on sick leave, impatient to start moving the muscles in his face and the relief is now he's almost able to close his eye and can now move his cheek a little.

So as you can imagine, the Daring Cook's challenge was the least of my worries (especially as I've been inundated with translation projects recently, meaning that I spend my time in front of the computer all day - adding to E's boredom). When I finally found a free minute to think about sourcing the ingredients, I had a tag-along.. (E just can't understand my preparation before cooking, and the lack thereof this time round caused numerous heated discussions between us).. Anyway, enough about that..

The sushi ->
Part 1. Sushi rice.. meh, easy to make (except when you don't read the labels of the bottles and end up with pre-sweetened sushi seasoning instead of rice vinegar). Ok, so I cheated but I have to say I didn't notice any difference in the rice..
Part 2.
Dragon roll with smoked herring (I do know where to get eel here Terres de l'Ebre, but didn't have time to go there) and courgette (no cucumber either) - the only thing I got right was the avocado!

Part 3.
Spiral roll with herring, courgette and fresh tuna. I know, there was supposed to be 6 ingredients, but couldn't think of anything else that wouldn't kill the flavour of the fish. As it was, I went overboard with the rice (as usual - it's the second time that I've made sushi and I had the same problem), so they were more sushi balls than sushi rolls.

Part 4.
Nigiri with fresh tuna, pan-fried calamar and monkfish. Okay, so these turned out a little better except I discovered that when I returned home with the rest of the ingredients that I hadn't any wasabi paste left.. Improvise.. so we added dijon mustard! It was, well, *interesting*. E liked it but I wasn't convinced.

Anyway, another challenge done and dusted.. I suppose I should be happy with the result (given the circumstances) but being a perfectionist, it's a lot to ask. I've got high standards but in some ways that's a good thing as maybe the next time round it will be even better..


Audax said...

I'm surprised that you had any focus at all, and I think you are being too harsh on your wonderful efforts, I think your sushi is great and so many delicious fillings and topings. Hope your BH gets better soon. Bravo bravo bravo on your effort this month. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

Amy I. said...

I'm so impressed that you were able to persevere to complete this challenge despite your bumpy month. Great work, even though it wasn't your fave! Hope things start to look up for your family soon :)

Lauren said...

I'm glad you completed it, even with everything that happened this month! Your sushi looks awesome =D. Hope everything gets better soon!

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