Elkhorn Inn guest dinner of almond-crusted pan-fried trout, last night Chef Dan came home from wonderful Food City with not only beautiful trout fillets, but butter-tender, sushi-quality tuna & baby scallops- AND a bottle of Japanese Gekkeikan saki! And so, late as it was, Elisse pulled out her little bamboo maki-mat, cooked up a pot of sushi rice, and got down to some serious maki-makin'! As I wrote the first time I made maki here at the Elkhorn Inn, if ANYONE had suggested, "way back" 8 years ago when we bought the flooded, abandoned building in the middle of "nowhere" that we'd turn into the Elkhorn Inn, that we'd be dining on better sushi here than I'd ever had in NYC, (much less that I'd be making it), we both would have HOWLED with laughter! But it's true! Thanks to Food City (and the internet purveyors of 'exotic' foodstuffs, such as pickled ginger, ume (Japanese pickled plums), nori (seaweed sheets), and the like), we really can & do eat like kings & queens here in the wild and wonderful mountains of the southern WV boonies!
Although ume maki are ever on the menu in American sushi bars, when one orders them one finds they're almost never available, and so the last time I ate ume was at a fabulous Kaiseki meal in the glorious, historic Japanese Inn in Kyoto where Dan & I stayed on our 2008 honeymoon! So when, during one of my late-night internet "foodie" hunts, I found I could order jars of ume on the internet, I jumped at the chance! And thus, around midnight, while our Elkhorn Inn guest happily surfed the 'net, Dan & I quietly feasted on sashimi & Elisse's Magnificent Maki, toasting each other with saki! Who'd a thunk it?!
And maki rolls are SO easy to make! I do not say this lightly, as I am NOT a chef, much less a sushi chef, but the incredibly simple instructions that came with my mail-order bamboo rolling mat really work! The nori sheets are easy to roll, don't crack, & sticks to itself, easily sealing the rolls, and a good, sharp knife is all you need to slice them. The sushi rice (which Food City actually has!) has the consistency of fluffy, white clay, and it's easy to spread thinly on the nori or form into little "sushi balls" (Chef Dan had a lot of fun doing that!) What you Must have is great, sushi-quality fresh fish & seafood, real sushi rice and the powdered sushi vinegar to mix with it, nori sheets, and the condiments: good soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi. You really should have Saki or green tea, too! Ume plums, white & black sesame seeds, etc. are fun to have, too, & my feeling is that if you're ordering one thing, you might as well save on shipping and order the lot! While cookbooks and internet instructions are fine, as you can see from the photo above, and I actually did a good job of slicing the fish properly, if I say so myself (!), what I'd Really like for Dan & I to be able to take a "lesson" with a sushi chef at a good Japanese restaurant, so we could learn more about the proper way to cut different fish and seafood, and the "art" of rolling and seasoning and presentation... And in a perfect world, I'd like that lesson to take place in Japan, too. :-)