Several years ago Steve returned home from a 3 week business trip to Korea with 2 bottles of Sake he picked up at the airport. Happy to celebrate his return we got two wine glasses out and filled them up. At this point it should be apparent we didn't know anything about drinking Sake and that was the first and last attempt. Fast forward to 2014 in Toronto at the Cabbagetown Art and Crafts Festival where the attending community was thrilled about our Rock Bottom Collection. Throughout that weekend we sold many 250ml Rock Bottom Tasses to happy customers who informed us how perfect they were to heat up or chill their beloved Sake. Curiously we asked about the how-to of Sake and the folks were all too happy to educate us on the art of drinking it.
It was time to give it another try so we picked up a very small and limited assortment from our local LCBO. On the labels there are recommendations for serving temperatures from hot, room temperature or chilled. Served with this little taste testing bar was some California style sushi and pickled ginger. We were pleasantly surprised with the combination.
My chef sister-in-law demystified the making process a few years back while we prepped some for a celebration party and simple sushi isn't as complicated as I first thought. Like anything else that is handmade, sometimes you just need to break down the steps. First thing you will need is Calrose rice (sticky rice) follow the cooking directions on the bag. Once the rice is cooked transfer it to a bowl and mix in a generous splash of rice vinegar, cover with a towel and let cool. The rice can be made before hand, let cool, cover with wrap and put in the fridge. Make sure to take it out a bit before you are ready to start so it can warm up. Next your seaweed wrap. The bamboo mat is optional. If you don't have one you can sub in a piece of clear plastic food wrap. Next, bring out all the goodies you are going to roll up with your rice like sliced up cucumber, shredded carrots, red pepper and chives. Your imagination and taste buds are the limit! Other great considerations are avocado, shrimp, ham, sprouts, smoked salmon and tuna are great additions.
Lay out your wrap, place a large handful of rice onto the seaweed (it's good to have damp hands so the rice doesn't stick to you) and spread it out evenly but not all the way to the ends of wrap. Next arrange your filling at the end closest to you. Once that is complete you can use the end of your bamboo mat or the food wrap to help fold the seaweed up and over, and start rolling! Now you just have to use a sharp knife and slice the roll into disks. Other toppings we like to garnish our sushi pieces with are toasted sesame seeds, boiled sliced egg, bacon, tamari sauce (soya sauce), wasabi for those who like some heat and of course pickled ginger. Sushi without pickled ginger is like a car without a motor...It just doesn't work.
It is the easiest thing to make and has so many uses in cooking beyond enjoying with your sushi. Great for meat marinates and salad dressings both the infused vinegar and the ginger sliced up. Use a mandolin with the guard and set the blade to a very thin shave. If you don't own a mandolin a veggie peeler will work just as well. Put all your ginger slices into a mason jar, pour to the top with rice vinegar and set in fridge for at least a day. The longer it is left the stronger the flavour. No dyes, no additives, just pure and simple ginger goodness.
Steve and I both enjoyed the chilled variety of Sake which had a faint blossom taste to it. If your looking for something different to offer up this summer pick up a few bottles of Sake served in a chilled or heated Rock Bottom Tasse and pare it with a little make your own sushi bar.