Monday, July 16, 2012

Crispy Calamari Sushi

I love sushi, but sushi doesn't love me.

Let me rephrase that.

I love sushi, and sushi loves me. But it does not love my wallet.

Justin and I will get sushi as often as our bank account allows. We get it on vacation when we want to treat ourselves, when we go out with parents, or when we get a good deal with Groupon. Sometimes we'll get sushi lunch specials. But typically, my sushi cravings occur more often than my sushi binges.

The budget-busting part of sushi is undoubtedly the high-quality raw fish. Without that grade-A tuna or salmon, you can pretty much forget it.

Unless …

I love fried calamari. I love sushi. When the thought finally struck me to combine the two, I was amazed that I'd never thought of it before. Isn't it obvious? A delicious tempura-fried squid inside the roll. Duh!

I'd say it's just as good as any sushi I've had anywhere, but I guess I'm biased. If cooking squid makes you cringe, use some smoked salmon, smoked trout, or slivers of your favorite cooked fish instead!

For the rolls:
2 cups sushi rice
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
6-8 sheets nori
8-10 stalks asparagus
1 avocado
3/4 lb calamari (tubes only)
1 cup flour
Spicy Mayo (below)

For the spicy mayo
1/2 cup mayo
1 tsp Sriracha 
1/2 lime
Dash fish sauce

For the dipping sauce
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
3 tbsp water
1 clove garlic
1 small knob ginger
handful of basil leaves
1 tsp sesame seeds


Rinse the tubes well. Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each half into skinny strips. Rinse them again until the water runs clear, then pat dry. Place them in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and leave in the fridge for a few hours to dry out a bit.

Meanwhile, prepare the rice: Rinse the rice well by soaking it in a large bowl with cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and repeat this process two or three times until the water is clear. Combine the 2 cups of rice with 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it's boiling, set it to low, cover, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Then take it off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt in a large bowl and microwave for 15 seconds. Tumble the cooked sushi rice into the bowl with the mix and toss together until the rice is nicely coated. Let it cool.

For the mayo, mix all the ingredients together in resealable bag.

For the dipping sauce, toss all the ingredients into a small food processor and blitz until done. This stuff is pretty strong, so add more water to taste if it's too much for you.

Blanch and shock the asparagus. Cut the avocado into skinny slices.

To assemble: Lay a sheet of nori on your cutting board in the "landscape" position (for any MS Word users out there). Dip your fingers into a bit of water to keep the rice from sticking to your hands. A handful at a time, press the rice onto the sheet of nori, allowing for a small strip of bare nori to remain at the top. At the end closest to you, place a couple stalks of asparagus, a few slivers of avocado, and a squirt of the spicy mayo (snip the corner off the bag and pipe out).

Meanwhile, dust the calamari in some flour and fry it in a few inches of oil (we used olive oil, but you can use vegetable oil, sunflower oil, etc.) You only need to fry it for a few minutes until the crust is a light golden brown — don't overcook! Might want to try a couple batches to see how it works for you.

At the stuffed side, start carefully rolling away from you, tucking the edge underneath. When you're almost at the edge, use your finger to dab a little water on the naked edge of the nori to seal the end of the roll. Rock the roll lightly with your hand to make sure the edge sticks.

Cut the roll in half, then cut each half into halves, then those quarters into halves so that you get 8 perfect pieces of sushi.

Top with extra mayo if you like. This dinner might not be the quickest to make, but it definitely satisfies any sushi craving and is great for a crowd. 

No need for compromise ;-)


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