Monday, September 3, 2012

A little family heritage - Sushi

I am one quarter Japanese.  You can't tell by looking at me, or at least I don't think you can. I'm nearly 5'10" with brown hair and fair complexion. My brother however got the Japanese genes and has black hair and a slightly different complexion than I do. My 4'11" Japanese grandmother recently turned 85 (she would not like it if she knew I was advertising this information), and we live about 5 minutes away from one another.  We are close and I am thankful for that.  Every couple of years she wants to make sushi. Sometimes she recruits my mom to help, other times recruits me to help.  Her recipe is one of her favorites that her mom made when she was growing up. About 5 years ago I wrote down all the ingredients we used, and she gave me a few more ingredients that she doesn't use that much anymore but her mom used a lot.  Many of these are in Japanese (the packages were entirely in Japanese)  but thankfully I looked them up online and find out what they were! She's always referred to her type of sushi as Makizushi,  but often simply calls them Maki for short.

  • Sushi rice seasoned with sugar and rice wine vinegar.  One time I was the designated rice stirrer, which is a very important job to ensure perfect consistency of the rice.  Must stir under a fan. She's very proud of her sushi rice. Whenever we go out to an Asian restaurant and eat sushi, she comments how no one seasons their rice like she does. 
  • Nori (seaweed wrappers) 
  • Egg. beaten with sugar than cooked in a pan
  • Shrimp powder (the pink stuff)
  • Eel (cooked)
  • Cucumber (sometimes)
  • Avocado (sometimes)
  • Carrot (sometimes)
  • Shiitake mushrooms, cooked in soy sauce and sugar
  • Kampyo, which is strips of dried gourd. The strips are soaked in water to re-hydrate, then cooked in soy sauce and sugar. 
  • Gobo, root of the Burdock plant.  She hasn't used this the last couple of times
  • Kamaboko, or red fish cake. She's left this out the last couple of times as well.  Wikipedia defines it as " is a type of cured surimi (ground fish), a Japanese processed seafood product, in which various white fish are pureed, combined with additives such as MSG, formed into distinctive loaves, and then steamed until fully cooked and firm.  Kamaboko has been made in Japan since the 14th century." 

Finished Maki, August 2012:

We have ordered just sushi as our meal at our local Japanese restaurant, however not this time. We ordered take-out from our favorite Thai restaurant called The Green Papaya in Montgomery, Alabama.  It is wonderful, they call it Thai-Lao cuisine, and it's not at all like the other Thai restaurants we sometimes visit.  Lots of basil and bell peppers in the dishes. The dishes below are their Pad Thai, Spicy Fried Rice, and Thai Basil.

These last two photos are from 2007.  You can see some green and orange in the second photo, that's the avocado and cooked carrot. 

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