You don't have to be an expert itamae to throw a sushi party. My friend, Takako, visiting from Osaka recently showed a group of Japanese food fans how to throw a DIY sushi party, no rolling required. It was a blast! Here's the road map on how to make this happen.
1. Make a Big Batch of Sushi Rice
This medium grain rice is now widely available -- often graded and labeled "sushi rice" -- which makes the whole project do-able. Sugar and vinegar is added to the cooked rice, giving it the distinctive flavor and slightly sticky texture. Chef John walks us through the easiest way to make this foundation for laying with seafood, meat and veggies in this short video.
2. Gather Ingredients for Topping/Filling
Ask at the seafood counter for sushi grade tuna, and slice thinly. If ahi is not available, flake some smoked salmon or sear scallops, crack some crab, poach and chill shrimp. You can even go for a global twist and serve ceviche. Have seafood haters at the table? It's perfectly acceptable to include sliced ham and cheese in the mix. Remember, anything goes. The first rule of family-style sushi is that there really are no rules. For that crunch sushi enthusiasts crave, go for these veggies, arranged on a platter:
- Sliced cucumbers
- Sliced carrots
- Pickled ginger
- Pea pods
- Crispy fried onions
3. Get Ready to Wrap
Sheets of dried nori are traditionally used for sushi rolls and those also work well for the family-style approach, where everyone's invited to make their own creations. Lettuce leaves also do the trick of holding rice and various fillings. Suggest to newbies that it's easy to get carried away and urge them not to go overboard filling these hand-held bites. There's always the option to go back for seconds and thirds!
4. The Fiery Finishing Touch
For those who like a spicy kick, offer the option of wasabi, usually customized by mixing with some soy sauce. If you decide to go the meaty route, a dollop of classic horseradish turns up the heat. Japanese beer tastes so right with this lineup, sake, too. As the feast winds down, offer up some warm finger towels.