Getting in the mood… for spring
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It is well known that some foods are sexier than others. While some foods are perfect for a night out with the boys, like nachos and beer, other foods are more appropriate for getting “in the mood,” as they say.
Let’s face it, pizza is not sexy. Nor are chili-cheese fries and chicken wings. Oysters, though, are sexy. And so are champagne, strawberries, fondue, and yes, sushi. And what better time to celebrate sexy foods than in the randy season that is fast approaching: springtime.
Springtime is when we start looking forward to summer sports where skin is bared and the hard-bodies sweat. It is the time when we shed those extra bulky layers of clothing, opting for a more form-fitting and stylish version of our mountain couture. Women exchange the hoodie and jeans look for the baby-tee and a skirt, and allow a touch more cleavage to be exposed in the softening elements. Men shave their winter beards and trim the scraggly locks of hair that have been hiding under a beanie for the last six months, exposing those dashing good looks that have been in hibernation since last October.
What better way to welcome the new season that by hosting a party that focuses on more sensual foods. Sushi for example, is a nice springtime food. It is rumored to be an aphrodisiac… and if that doesn’t work, pour him a little more sake.
Here are five easy steps to throwing a sushi shebang to welcome the spring season that’s got it going on:
[I found all the ingredients at Safeway, but I recommend visiting The Village Market in Incline Village for the freshest and best quality fish. Ask for Eric – he will give you the raw deal on the best fish. The following proportions should feed six people.]
– Short grain white rice, 32 oz. package
– Seaweed (Nori), one package of 10 sheets
– Vegetables ( I used asparagus, carrot, cucumber and avocado and fresh lemons; sprouts, spinach, mushrooms, mango, and any other flavor you desire are also good options)
– Approximately 1 lb. Sushi Grade Fish (There is a difference between really fresh fish and sushi grade fish; for fish to be real sushi grade, it must have been frozen at -15˚ for 15 minutes – check with your grocer about this.)
– Imitation crab, scallops, caviar or any other ocean dweller that you feel like rolling and eating
– Bamboo sushi roller and rice paddle
– Soy sauce
– Pickled ginger
– Rice Vinegar
– Optional: Instant miso soup, edamame, pot-stickers to round out the meal
– Sake and Japanese Beer
For the Ebi Sunomono salad (recipe follows)
– 8 oz. cooked, peeled and de-veined shrimp, tails removed
– 2 cucumbers
– 1/3 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped
Step 1 – Start the Rice
Make the entire 32 oz.. bag of rice according to the directions. In a small bowl mix 3/4 cup of rice vinegar, 3 Tbs. of sugar and 3/4 tsp. of salt and stir until dissolved. Spread the cooked rice into a large shallow pan, and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Mix, and let cool until the rice comes to warm room temperature.
Step 2 – Prepare the Sushi Fillings
The idea here is to prepare the vegetables to be able to easily roll them into the sushi. Carrots should be grated, cucumber should be sliced into very thin sticks, and avocado as well as lemon should be thinly sliced. If using asparagus or other tough vegetables, steam until crisp-tender, then cool in a bowl of ice water before cutting into thin slices.
Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry. Slice into thin strips, about 1/4 inches to 1/2 inch wide.
Step 3 – Set up a Rolling Station
Arrange the ingredients for the sushi on a table or counter in separate bowls. I recommend covering the seaweed to keep it dry and ready to roll (by this time sake and beer should be flowing.) Mix 1/4 cup rice vinegar with 4 cups of water. Pour into small bowls for guests to moisten their hands while rolling sushi, so that the rice doesn’t stick to their fingers.
Step 4 – Make the Ebi Sunomono Salad
This salad is delicious on its own or rolled into sushi – you choose.
Rinse the shrimp and drain well. Cut in half lengthwise. Thinly slice the cucumbers. In a bowl mix 1/3 cup of rice vinegar, 2 Tbs. of sugar and 2 tsp. of soy sauce. Add cucumbers and shrimp, and mix to coat. Top with chopped peanuts just before serving.
Step 5 – Roll your sushi
Place a sheet of seaweed shiny side down on a bamboo rolling mat. Spread a layer of rice on the seaweed, using the bowl of vinegar and water to moisten fingers, and help spread the rice. Leave a 2-inch wide strip bare along one edge. Place the sushi filling ingredients in a line, exercising your creativity for mixing flavors. Be careful not to ever-stuff the roll. Moisten the bare edge of the seaweed, and holding the fillings in place, lift the bamboo mat and roll the sushi into a log. Remove it from the mat; use a sharp knife to cut the roll into even pieces. Next, place sushi in your mouth; chew and enjoy.
Happy eating, and enjoy the effects of sensual springtime cuisine.
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