Let me cut to the chase with this one. Because along with what has officially come as the “holiday/party season”, also came a bubbling frenzy of ideas that harasses my otherwise unambitious nature to just relax through it all. I mean really, really self-tormenting thoughts, such as the fixation on the idea of a Christmas goose (goose!… I must’ve lost my mind.), the racing finger-snapping sounds that repeats “hors d’oeuvre, hors d’oeuvre, hors d’oeuvre!” and then “cookies, cookies, cookies!”, plus a reignited and very unhealthy obsession to tackle the ever–evil, ever-defiant croissant dough which, let’s not kid ourselves, will end in tears (I wonder where that came from…). All in all I mean, I’m busy.
But then, speaking of hors d’oeuvre…
Sushi, when you think about it, in its neat and dainty individual-ness and light refreshing taste, is really perfect horderves in the making. However, I don’t know of any normal human beings with real lives who push the idea of making-sushi-at-home beyond just an idea, and frankly, I don’t blame them. They just didn’t know that even the Japanese themselves needed to figure out a way to cheat around sushi, one that requires minimal skills and virtually zero compromise on flavours. Most fabulous of it all, they even gave it a legitimate name. Temaki.
In another word, hand roll, is quitter’s sushi.
Seriously, if you can manage to roll a piece of paper you can make temaki, better yet, mini temaki. Despite the superficial gushing cuteness, they deliver real grown-up taste with creaminess from unsalted butter and creme fraiche, flavours from smoked salmon and sesame oil, plus kicks from spicy sirracha, minced shallots and wasabi creme fraiche. All the components can be made hours ahead, which is the secret to looking effortlessly fabulous as a host to any party. But judging from the recipe-testing I had to conduct for you guys on an event-less weekday (what a sacrifice), these mini babies can make my, or yours, ordinary DVD-night quite partied-up as well.
Makes: 2 dozen mini hand rolls
- Spicy salmon tartare:
- 14 oz (400 grams) of sushi-grade, skinless/boneless salmon fillet
- 2 tbsp of unsalted butter, soften
- 2 tbsp of sirracha sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp (30 grams) of creme fraiche
- 1 1/2 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp of toasted sesame seeds
- 1 small shallots, finely minced
- 3.5 oz (100 grams) of smoked salmon, broken into small pieces
- Sea salt to taste
- Wasabi creme fraiche:
- 3 tbsp of finely diced chives
- 2 tbsp of creme fraiche
- 1/2 tsp of wasabi paste
- Sushi rice:
- 17.6 oz (500 grams) of cooked sushi rice (roughly 2 cups of rice before cooking)
- 1/4 cup of sushi vinegar
- To assemble:
- 6 ~ 7 sheets of nori/Japanese seaweed
- Toasted black sesame, and chili flakes to sprinkle
To make the spicy salmon tartare: Divide the salmon into 2 equal portions. Mince 1 portion extremely fine to almost paste-like consistency, and finely dice the other portion into a-bit-smaller-than-pea sizes. Set aside. Use a spatula to mash the unsalted butter inside a large bowl until it resembles mayonnaise. Then add the 1st portion of the salmon (finely minced/paste), 1 tbsp of sirracha, 1 tbsp of creme fraiche and 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil into the same bowl with the butter, and mix well to combine. Now add the 2nd portion of the salmon (diced), toasted sesame seeds, minced shallots, smoked salmon, plus 1 tbsp of sirracha, 1/2 tbsp of creme fraiche and 1/2 tbsp of sesame oil. Mix well to combine, then re-season with coarse sea salt to taste.
Plastic-wrap the bowl and chill in the fridge for 1 hour or until needed.
To make the sushi rice: A general rule of thumb in cooking sushi rice is that however much you are preparing, the ratio of raw rice and water should be 1 (raw rice) : 1.1 (water) by VOLUME. This is slightly drier than how you would typically cook rice, because the rice needs to further absorb the liquid from the sushi vinegar that’s gonna be added later. So clean/rinse the rice and cook it according to your rice-cooker’s instruction with the ratio above. Once done, take 17.6 oz (500 grams) of cooked rice, and gradually add 1/4 cup of sushi vinegar into the rice while fluffing it with a spatula.
Once completely incorporated, cover the rice with a damp towel at room-temperature (or turn off the rice-cooker and keep the rice inside the rice-cooker).
To make wasabi creme fraiche: Mix finely diced chives, creme fraiche and wasabi paste until even. Set aside.
To assemble the hand rolls: Use a scissor to cut the nori sheets into 6″ x 2 1/2″ strips (15 cm x 6.5 cm). Wet your hands with some water and press 1 tbsp of sushi rice into one end of the nori/seaweed strips. Smear little bit of wasabi creme fraiche, and about 1 tsp of spicy salmon tartare on the rice, then roll the nori strips into a small cone. Top the cone with more spicy salmon tartare, and sprinkle with some toasted black sesame and chili flakes. Serve immediately.