The amiable yet sophisticated atmosphere of American sushi bars seems to add a nuance of flavor to the already acknowledged eating pleasures that await you there. Hand rolls, those personalized tidbits wound and bound on command with a flick of the wrist, have become particularly popular recently. Most people like to experiment with lots of unusual combinations but find the large hand rolls quite filling. I’ve redesigned these, scaling them down to miniature cornucopias, and listed three of my personal favorites in fillings. For additional fillings you could take ideas from other sushi recipes in this book, or look in your refrigerator and see what you have. Combinations of various herbs and spices, bits of fruit and vegetables, fish, seafood, and fish roes make wonderful fillings.
Cut each of the sheets of seaweed in quarters and stack them, rough side up, in a dry spot near your work surface. With damp hands, divide the rice into twenty-four portions and gently compact each into a small nugget. Place a damp cloth over the rice to keep it from drying out.
Next, prepare whatever fillings you’ll want to use and set them out on plates or in bowls near your work surface.
To make herbed plum rolls, take a single small piece of seaweed and place it on a dry board. Dampen your fingers with cold water before pressing a nugget of rice into the upper quadrant of the seaweed. Moistening your fingers with cold water keeps the rice from sticking to them. Spread a bit of plum paste on the rice and lay the shiso or mint leaves on top of that, with the pointed herb leaves facing up. Place a few threadlike cucumber shreds on top of the herb leaves. Lift the lower corner of the seaweed up to cover about half the filling. Holding down the first fold gently with one finger, fold over one side, rolling snugly toward the other side to form a cone shape. To help seal the roll, place a grain of cooked rice in the corner and press.
If you’ve decided upon crisp and smoky filling, make the rolls in a similar fashion. Take a sheet of seaweed and, with fingers dampened with cold water, press a nugget of rice to it in the upper quadrant. Scatter some sesame seeds on each portion of rice before placing one eighth of the seasoned fish flakes over that. Add some sprouts (with the green buds facing up for the radish variety) and lift the lower corner of seaweed up to cover about half the filling. With one finger, gently hold down this first fold at the same time as you wind and roll to form a cone shape. Seal the roll with a grain of cooked rice.
If you’re making rolls with broiled salmon-skin filling, take a sheet of seaweed and, with dampened fingers, press a nugget of rice in the upper quadrant. Spread a dab of the horseradish paste on the rice, lay down the strip of salmon skin, then place some bits of scallion over that before winding and sealing each roll.
Serve the miniature cornucopias with soy sauce for dipping.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.