Looking for a specialty dish that will please the palates of your party guests and provide a bit of entertainment at the same time? Here's how to make Japanese "maki sushi," the most popular style of sushi enjoyed by Americans today.
Maki sushi is characterized by a layer of nori seaweed wrapped around a layer of sushi rice that surrounds a particular filling that sits in the middle. These combined layers are then rolled into a cylinder shape like a big fat cigar and cut into bite sized pieces with a very sharp knife.
Check out the ethnic section of your local supermarket or find a Japanese grocery store in your area in order to get authentic ingredients. What makes maki sushi such an entertaining party menu item is that you can prepare it in front of your guests freshly made to order and vary the fillings depending upon the guest's request. You can even challenge your guests to try making a maki roll themselves.
Prepare your sushi rice ahead of time by cooking 4 1/2 cups of short grain white rice in a rice cooker. Spread the cooked rice on a baking pan, and pour a mixture of 3/4 cup rice vinegar, 3 tbsp. sugar and 3/4 tsp. salt blended together over the rice. Make sure the rice is evenly coated and let it come to room temperature.
You can prepare your maki fillings ahead of time and keep them in sealed containers in the refrigerator until you are ready to start rolling each sushi maki.
Salted, peeled thin sticks of cucumbers are a favorite maki filling (called kappa maki). Ahi tuna cut into 1/2 inch strips is another excellent choice. Salmon roe, smoked salmon, asparagus tips, enoki mushrooms, carrot sliced into thin sticks, and crabmeat mixed with mayonnaise and soy sauce to taste are all traditional maki fillings.
Get ready to roll by placing the nori sheet atop a bamboo mat, spreading sushi rice over 2/3 of the sheet, leaving the end closest to you uncovered. If the rice gets sticky, wet your fingers to spread it as evenly as possible. Now add a strip of your chosen filling or filling combinations in the middle of the rice.
Start to roll up the maki at the edge nearest to you, making sure you don't apply pressure that causes the rice to squirt out the ends of the roll. Use a sharp knife to cut the finished roll into pieces about 3/4 inch long for easier eating. No matter what maki filling you select, traditional maki dipping sauces are soy sauce and hot wasabi paste.