Those that know me know that I like cute things. Hence, my favorite Swiss word Schnügel and my favorite Japanese word kawaii (かわいい). Never mind my favorite Dutch word kansloos… uh, that’s a whole ‘nother story…
Two weeks ago, I even learned a new variant of the Swiss word–Schnügi–so now I have even more ways to express cutie, cuddly things. Yay!! ^.^
So I suddenly got into my brain to make some onigiri, because I’ve seen so many of them in bento boxes out there with cute character faces. However, a lot of the assembly techniques require specialized tools… which I can’t readily get in Switzerland. T_T
I had bought a package of nori from the Lian Hua Wiedikon Chinese market in Zürich in anticipation of making my own cutie onigiris, but then I realized that it was too much trouble to try to cut winky eyeballs and smilies without special punch tools. I was NOT going to be sitting there with a pair of scissors, trying to free-form this stuff from a sheet of nori. Can you imagine the deformed-looking pandas and other assorted critters that would result from my poor scissor technique? I had already tried my hand at Chinese paper cutting (AKA Jianzhi or 剪纸) in Taipei years ago, and those poor puppies usually ended up as a disconnected, shredded mess. 😦
So I decided to make vegetarian pork sung sushi (素肉鬆壽司), since I had a package of vegetarian pork sung on hand. Pork sung, also known as rousong (肉鬆) is a very popular food item in Taiwanese cuisine, and I have many fond memories of eating it as a topping over congee as a child. I also remember watching my mother making fish sung out of leftover salmon, smelling the fragrant scents of soy and sugar wafting out of the wok as she stir-fried the fish into a light and fluffy floss. 😛
I had first tried making pork sung sushi last year, doing my own little twist on this Taiwanese snack with brown rice, cucumber, carrot, egg, vegetarian pork sung, and avocado. It had come out okay, but I had problems rolling the sushi tight enough so the filling wouldn’t all fall out. 😦
Today I decided to give it another go, but I only had fresh cucumbers on hand, so it was more a purist filling of only cucumbers, vegetarian pork sung, and sushi rice. I rolled up two versions: 1) the traditional way with seaweed on the outside, and 2) the California style roll with rice on the outside and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I’m happy to say that the end results came out nice and tight, and nothing fell apart as I was eating my finished sushi rolls using chopsticks. 🙂
The recipe inspiration came from this Food Coma website, and the box of Saitaku sushi rice I got from Coop Sihlcity yesterday had easy instructions (in English!) on how to prepare the sushi rice and marinade. The instructions were for 2 people, but since I live alone, I just halved the portions for one person and used my rice cooker to cook the rice instead of following the directions for stove top cooking.
Now that I’m more confident in my sushi-making skills, perhaps next time I’ll be more adventurous with the fillings and toppings. But let’s see… there are so many other thing to cook, and so little time… 😉
Vegetarian pork sung sushi (素肉鬆壽司)
- Black and/or white sesame seeds (for California style)
- Sushi rice marinade
- 250 g Japanese sushi rice (I halved this for one person)
- 350 ml cold water (I halved this for one person)
- Rousong (pork floss or pork sung, I used the vegetarian version made of soy)
- Nori (seaweed sheets)
- Sushi mat
Sushi rice marinade ingredients:
- 5 tsp rice vinegar (I halved this for one person)
- 1 tsp sugar (I halved this for one person)
- 1 tsp salt (I halved this for one person)
- Wash the sushi rice about 4 -5 times with cold water until the water runs clear. Let the rice soak in fresh cold water for 30 minutes, then drain.
- Stove top method: Add the washed, soaked, and drained sushi rice to 350 ml of cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat but leave the lid on and leave to stand for another 15 minutes. Important: Don’t open the lid the lid during the 15 minutes.
Rice cooker method: Cook the rice with 350 ml of cold water in a rice cooker.
- Prepare the sushi rice marinade by combining the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Heat the seasoning mixture. Don’t use stainless steel or metal, as it might interact with the vinegar and change the taste.
- Put the cooked rice in a large bowl and gradually fold in the seasoning mixture until the rice has cooled to room temperature.
- Slice the cucumber into narrow strips to put into the sushi. Remove the seeds if necessary.
- On the sushi mat, lay the rough side of the seaweed sheet facing up. Spread a thin layer of rice on top, and lay out the cucumber slices and pork floss.
- Using the sushi mat, roll up the sushi firmly to form a nice and tight tube. You can spread a few rice grains at the end to make he seaweed sheet stick.
- To make California style rolls, lay out some plastic wrap on the sushi mat and add a layer of rice above the seaweed sheet. After rolling up the sushi, sprinkle some sesame seeds on the outside to make it prettier.
- Slice the rolls with a knife dipped in cold water.