I love my food raw. Be it beef carapaccio, cold smoked salmon, steak tartare or sashimi, I love them all. My relationship with raw food began at the young age of 4 when I was first introduced to cold smoked salmon, and it immediately rose through the ranks among the favourite foods to eat. At the age of 7, I was introduced to salmon sashimi, and although, at the time, I did not quite understand its subtlety compared to my dearly beloved cold smoked salmon, I have grown to appreciate it and love it more. So much so that sashimi has become one of my top 3 favourite foods to eat.
To me, raw food has a beauty that is as striking as a bare faced beauty. It is a genre of food that truly embraces the notion of “less-is-more”. To me, appreciating the delicate and natural flavors of sashimi is absolutely exhilarating. Whenever I sample fresh, in-season sushi or sashimi prepared by master sushi chefs, I always finish my meal feeling like I just had an intense meditation session with my taste buds.
This post is dedicated to one of my favourite Nigiri Sushi: The Scorched Salmon Nigiri. I had my first Scorched Salmon Nigiri in a popular sushi bar in Hong Kong and I immediately fell in love with it! The scorched surface of the raw salmon catalyzed the salmon flavour of the oily fish, all the while maintaining the cleanness of the sushi. If you are preparing a selection of nigiri/sashimi for dinner… eat this at a later course!! The relative richness of this sushi desensitizes your palate to the cleaner, and subtler flavours in traditional sashimi and nigiri dishes. If you absolutely can’t wait, eat a slice of japanese pickled ginger to cleanse the palate, before moving back to other subtler flavours! For my version of the scorched nigiri, I added a slight twist to it by creating a glaze. This caramelizes the top even more and creates more of a bang.
Pre-Recipe Tips of Preparing Your Perfect Sushi Rice
While a lot of people cook rice without washing/rinsing the grains, this step is actually very important in making sushi rice for sushi. Rinsing washes off the extra starch clinging to the grains, and prevents the rice to be mushy/jammy. The perfect sushi rice should have enough stickiness to form a firm rice ball, while giving each grain a distinct chewy texture that you can feel with your tongue.
Refrigerating sushi rice:
Don’t!!!!! It stiffens and hardens the rice and makes it unpalatable. Let it cool in room temperature instead. If you have extra rice left over, you can reheat it by steaming. However, ‘overnight’ sushi rice is bad for sushi making. BUT you can use it for fried rice, or as a side dish.
Wasabi (Doesn’t have anything to do with rice, but I’ll add it here anyways):
There are soooo many brands of wasabi in the market these days, but most of them aren’t actually wasabi! Look for the ingredients: if it’s main ingredient is horseradish, that is just a pretend-wasabi! Horseradish based wasabi is spicer and gives you more of a kick (they’re the mean kids in the playground, and if you have too much of them, they make you cry). If you have a good Japanese/Asian grocer nearby, try and find the actual wasabi root instead. Simply grate it like you would with ginger, using a fine mesh!
Whaaaaaaaaaat?! A Rice Cooking ROBOT?!?!?!:
Yup! If you cook enough rice to justify owning a rice cooker, I highly recommend investing in one! Make sure they have a technology called “neuro-fuzzy”. Most Asian brands of rice cookers do. Neuro-fuzzy technology means that the rice cookers can cook rice according to your preference of doneness. Essentially, they alter the temperature and timing of the rice cooking progress, and allows the rice to cook evening, leaving minimal crunchy bits that you often find in the bottom of a rice pot. Some rice cookers can even make porridge, soup and CAKES!
So on the note of extra intelligent rice cookers, here’s another Nommy Noms recipe:
Scorched Salmon Nigiri Sushi
- Japanese Sushi Rice ———————————————– 2 Cups
- Wasabi —————————————————————- To taste
- Fresh, Sushi-grade salmon ————————————— ~400g
- Rice vinegar ———————————————————- 1/3 Cup
- Sugar —————————————————————— 2 Tbs
- Salt ——————————————————————— 1 Tsp
- Peking Onions (Substitute: Green Onions) ——————— 1 stalk
- Sweet sake-soy——————————————————–1 Recipe
- Sushi Mayo ———————————————————— 1 Recipe
The Fun Part:
- Rinse rice under cold tap water to remove starch. Follow instructions on package for cooking rice.
- While rice is cooking, prepare the sushi vinegar by combining rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and heating the mixture until everything dissolves. Alternatively, you can put everything in a microwavable bowl and microwave it in 30 second intervals.
- Slice the salmon fillet to 1.5″ by 1″ by 0.5″ (thick). Dimensions don’t need to be exact.
- Chop Peking onions/ Green onions into fine strands. Small enough to act as a garnish atop the finished nigiri.
- Once rice is done, fluff up the rice with a rice paddle. Then pour fluffed rice in a large non-metallic bowl. Traditionally, the Japanese use a large wooden/bamboo pan to do this, but a large bowl will suffice in our case!
- Continue fluffing the rice in the bowl for a short while, taking care not to mush the rice. Pour the vinegar mixture, gradually and evenly over the rice. Fold the rice, so that the vinegar seasoning is well incorporated. If a fan is available, fan the rice during the folding process, this speeds up cooling, helps with evaporating excess water and gives the rice a nice sheen. Cover with a damp kitchen towel, until rice has cooled to room temperature. Use immediately!
- To make the rice base for the nigiri sushi: wet hands (this prevents the rice from sticking to your hands). Grab a small hunk of sushi rice and roll it in a rice ball. Place the rice ball in the palm of your hand and knead it into shape with your index & middle finger.
- If desired, place a small dab of wasabi atop the shaped rice, and top it with a slab of sliced salmon.
- Brush or spoon sweet sake-soy over the fish of the nigiri.
- Torch! Make sure to caramelize the top well, but don’t cook the fish through!! AT LEAST half of the fish should be raw!
- Place a small dab of sushi mayo atop the fish and finish with fine strands of Peking green onion.
- OM NOM NOM NOM NOM!
Sweet Sake Soy
- Light Soy Sauce ——————— 2 Tbs
- Sake ———————————– 1 Tbs
- Sugar ———————————- 1 Tbs
The Fun Part:
- Mix ingredients together and heat in a small sauce pan until sugar has dissolves and mixture reduces enough to thinly coat the back of a metal spoon. Alternatively, you can microwave the mixture for 30 second intervals, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has reduced to desired thickness
- Mayonnaise ——————— 3 Tbs
- Sugar —————————– 1 Tbs
- Lemon Juice ——————— 2 Tsp
The Fun Part:
- Mix em’ all together