Some loyal readers may recall a bet exchanged between the boyfriend and I. A health bet, if you will. If he ran thirty miles (well. Ugh. That was the original deal) in a week (ugh, original deal), then he’d get a pound of homemade pasta, made by me.
It eventually involved 50 miles. In 60 hours. (His left knee has still not recovered).
But anyway, we made the pasta.
However, I also kept up my end of the bargain, giving up sweets for a week.
My reward? Homemade sushi!
Steve made me a TON! In a gorgeous variety of flavors and arrangements!
When I cook, as with most matters of my life, I make do with what I have. “Hm, don’t have any rice? Barley’s just as good. Oh crud, don’t have any tomato sauce? Sure, ketchup!”
Steve is different. Most of his cooking is in the typical male “I have mastered a dish and I am sticking to it”, and that dish for him is fried rice. It is always delicious, he mixes up the vegetable add-ins to provide a sufficient quantity of taste and nutrition variation. However, when he deviates from the norm and does a Cooking Project, he is going to commit to that Cooking Project. Commit BIG.
For making sushi, this meant several things.
1. A wooden bowl. Because apparently you cannot make proper sushi rice without a wooden bowl (…?!) He also, from previous experience, already had sushi mats. They are lovely.
2. Proper sushi rice. Which is short grain. (I did request/demand brown rice. He said the Asian woman at the Asian grocery store strongly advised against it)
3. Technique. This involved an internet tutorial on the proper way to cook a Japanese omelet type thing (the egg layer that goes in sushi… has a proper name which of course I, the lazy cook, have forgotten). His was perfectly shaped and flavor
4. Proper fish. On that note, I give you…
Ladies and gentlemen, an egg, cucumber, and UNAGI roll!
Love me some fresh water eel. And apparently they sell it at HMart, who knew?!
The roll also involved Sriracha mayo, mmm. (Mayo and I have such an odd relationship. But when it’s mixed with Sriracha and on a delicious sushi roll, I’m down.)
There was a variation that involved asparagus that was GRAND.
Let’s also just take a moment and admire the fact that Steve mastered the inside out sushi roll. I’ve kind of made sushi before, and it’s sort of intellectually possible to see how you can use seaweed as a wrapper for rice and filling (though, obviously, a bit tricky in practice.)
But inside out? Rice on the outside? That takes skill!
He in fact seemingly effortlessly alternated between outside out and inside out rolls. I couldn’t decide which I liked more!
And now for something a little more inauthentic and fun. How about a lovely SWEET POTATO ROLL?! Guys, I love sweet potatoes. I love sushi. THEY CAN BE AS ONE.
They involved a little cucumber for cultural variation and crunch.
And now, I would just like to point out that you have likely never had it, but dare I make a case for sweet potato and wasabi?! Seriously a great combination!
Wasabi was one of the myriad condiments offered to accompany my sushi.
Chili paste, soy sauce, Sriracha, teriyaki sauce, pickled ginger (!) (I love that stuff!), and wasabi.
I am a wasabi fiend, but Steve hates it. Good. More for me.
His chosen condiment, which I sampled and found quite tasty, was soy sauce mixed with the seed-in chili paste at the far left.
I began with a combo plate, if you will (I hate how when you order sushi you have to get all these different kinds of rolls. I enjoy being able to make a combination of all different kinds of flavors! Call it culinary ADHD if you’d like).
Sweet potato, inside out unagi-cucumber-egg-Sriracha mayo roll, inside out all of the aforementioned things plus asparagus roll (we’ll call that the deluxe roll!), and an outside out of the deluxe.
I must confess that I sometimes grow impatient with the rice. It also has a tendency to fall off the sushi roll, and since I’m usually working my greedy way to the fillings, I tend to just let it fall. And know that Steve will eat it.
But for the record, this was great sushi rice. Subtly flavored with vinegar and even a bit sweet from (Steve specifically chose this sushi rice recipe for its inclusion) honey. (Steve’s obsessed with honey).
I was having such a blissed out time eating sushi that I even had a California roll!
I don’t typically care for California rolls cause I get kind of skeeved out by the fake crab. But eating it actually set me off on a bit of a nostalgia trip when I was just a kiddo trying sushi for the first time. And the avocado, from the extremely superior to the regular grocery store Latin grocery store (a must for really good produce, especially the kinds of foods you’d find in Latin countries), was perfect.
Also from the Latin grocery store, an oddly perfect conclusion to the meal:
(No, I did not eat it with the wasabi. I do find it funny that it is in the background. Even for me, that combo is a little bizarre)
Another evening I found myself at Steve’s before he’d gotten home from work (I let myself in :D With my key :D).
And looked at his fridge and decided it was a biohazard and I never ever wanted to eat food that had been in it or put my beautiful meals in it. So I cleaned it.
He was dumbfounded with joy when he saw all that I’d done, so much so that he decided to take a picture.
(Suffice it to say that the bottom shelf did *not* used to be white. Yeurgh ew now I’m thinking about it)
My plan for the potluck that wasn’t was to recreate the WONDERFUL Israeli couscous salad we got at Lindeman’s on our trip to Spokane. I did pretty well!
Started with yummy whole wheat couscous:
Cooked up a cup of it with a handful of Craisins (to get them fat and rehydrated).
Then I used that same hot pan to heat up a bit of olive oil which I infused with curry powder (cooking the curry powder helps active the flavors, and because oil in a pan can get a lot hotter than water in a pan, it does a better job of activating those flavors. Just don’t burn it!)
Tossed the curry oil with some rice vinegar, green onion, and toasted almonds (I didn’t have slivered so I just toasted whole almonds and kind of cut them up).
Turned out quite yummy!
Steve had gone to this team-building-in-the-woods ropes course thing that day, which concluded with a trip to buy apple cider donuts. Obviously.
He made me eat one. Obviously.
Finally, this was ages ago but I just wanted to awe you all with the fact that I FRIED FOOD.
Well actually I baked it, too. It was in the interests of comparison.
Steve and I had bought yuca at the local heavenly, comprehensive Latin grocery market. I really really love fried yuca when you get it at the Peruvian chicken places that are more ubiquitous than McDonalds in the neighborhood in which I am lucky enough to live. However, I doubted my ability to recreate it in my home kitchen.
Still, at Steve’s we had the equipment for shallow, if not deep frying. I heated up a big heavy frying pan and put in an inch or so of peanut oil. Let it get good and hot.
Meanwhile I chopped up the yuca, which is such a stinkin’ pain.
Good lookin’ fried food!
The verdict? It was crispy and tasted a bit more neutral, like it could’ve been potato rather than yuca (if you’ve had yuca, you know its unique taste).
As for the other batch, I baked it in my usual style, with just a gentle drizzle of peanut oil in a hotel oven.
Obviously looked totally different:
And, shocker of shockers, I preferred the one that was more healthfully cooked! It was so rich and carby and squooshy in the middle :D
And Steve preferred the fried. Showing, once again, this man and I have some symbiosis going :D