As I type this, you're probably sitting in an adirondack chair on a wrap-around porch overlooking the rocky shoreline with a puppy curled up at your feet and a glass of ice tea dripping cool condensation down your wrist. And here I am, holed up in my apartment, shaking my fist at the clouds that have blanketed our not-so-fair city, opening up to spit vengefully at the most inconvenient times, for 19 out of the past 22 days. I hope you feel good about yourself. One question, though: is there sushi out there on Deer Isle?
Probably. Is there a corner of this globe that sushi hasn't reached? And really, thank heavens for that, because it's pretty much a perfect food. Delicious, fun to eat, infinite variety, complex flavors and textures, totally healthy, low-calorie, and cheap! Oh wait. Except for that last one. Damn. So close to being perfect, yet so far.
I don't know if you've heard, but we're in a bit of a pickle, economically-speaking. In the bigger picture sense, we're kind of screwed. In the smaller-picture sense, I have to stop eating out so much. Namely, sushi. (insert more fist-shaking)
But I have a solution! The other night, craving sushi, but not being able to bring myself to spend the $35 I inevitably end up shelling out, I made us a deconstructed sushi dinner.
Here's what you do:
Go shopping for: a nice, thick tuna steak (or two) big enough for two folks, scallions, 1 avocado, 1 seedless (or two regular) cucumbers, wasabi paste, 1 package of nori (dried seaweed sheets), and black sesame seeds (optional).
Pull out of your pantry/fridge: white rice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, a lime.
Make a marinade for the tuna with whatever you like that says "sushi" to you. You know, a little soy sauce, a little ginger, a little honey, a little rice vinegar, a little sake, a little Japanese heavy metal version of the Rainbow Connection--sorry, that just reminds me of Sapporo East.
Peel and thinly slice the cucumber. Toss it with rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt and a squeeze of lime. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds before serving.
Make your rice. When it's done, sprinkle it with the rice vinegar and toss with chopped scallions, and some crumbed pieces of nori (actually, I'd wait until the rice is not so hot as the heat will make the nori soggy).
While the rice is cooking, make a dipping sauce of soy sauce, a dash of vinegar, a little ginger, maybe a drop of honey, and of course a squeeze of wasabi.
Sear the tuna in a hot pan with sesame oil. Depending on the thickness, it might take a bit longer or shorter to cook, but it should only be about 2-4 minutes per side. If it's really sushi-quality, delicious sushi, just barely touch it to the pan.
Get fancy: Scoop the rice into a cup measure and pack it down. Invert it onto the plate like you're a big shot. If it falls apart like mine did, who cares. It'll still taste good. Top it with a small sheet of nori. Top that with sliced tuna (make sure to slice against the grain), and that with sliced avocado. Serve the cucumber salad piled up next to the formidable Tower of Sushi. Spoon dipping sauce lightly over the top and serve in a small dish on the side for dipping.
Pump up the Japanese heavy metal, close your eyes, and take a bite. You might not be fooled, but your craving should be sated. Maybe not until the recession ends, but at least for the time being.
Now go mail me a lobster roll.