Tuna, Shrimp, and Salmon Petal Sushi

Hanabira-Zushi

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    42

    bite-size pieces

Appears in

This is a wonderful dish for entertaining—even guests who are new to the pleasures of Japanese food love these bite-size tuna, cooked shrimp, and smoked salmon sushi. And since the dish can be made several hours ahead of your guests’ arrival, it gives you plenty of time to lavish on the presentation. The Japanese often use seasonal motifs in arranging their food, and here the red, pink, and orange-toned sushi resemble spring blossom petals.

Ingredients

  • 3½-4 cups shari (seasoned rice for sushi)
  • 6 large shrimp, with shells and tails intact
  • 1 teaspoon saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 4-6 ounces fresh sashimi-quality maguro (tuna), purchased in a block from a Japanese food store
  • 2-3 ounces smoked salmon, in broad thin slices
  • 1-2 teaspoons wasabi (Japanese horseradish) powder soy sauce for dipping, optional

Method

  1. Divide the seasoned rice into 42 small portions, and with moistened hands and/or a damp cloth, coax the rice into small balls. Cover these with a damp cloth while preparing the toppings.
  2. Remove the vein from each shrimp as best you can by tugging gently on it from the head end. Insert a short bamboo skewer or a round toothpick through the back of each shrimp, just under the shell, to straighten it out.
  3. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil, and add the rice wine. Blanch the skewered shrimp for 2-2½ minutes after the water returns to a boil. Remove the shrimp immediately, and while they are still warm, peel them before removing the skewers. To remove the skewers or toothpicks, twirl them in place to loosen, then pull them out. Slit each shrimp along the belly (white, unstriped side) to “butterfly” it, and press to flatten it into a triangular shape. Cut each shrimp in half; the top piece will be a small triangle. Set aside the twelve pieces. This can be done the day before; refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Slice the tuna into thin (about 1/16-inch) slices. If the slices are longer than inches, cut them in half. Ideally you should have eighteen thin pieces, each about inches square. Set aside.
  5. Cut the smoked salmon into twelve pieces, each about inches square. Set aside.
  6. Mix the horseradish powder with an equal amount of cold water, and stir to make a paste.
  7. Each ball of rice will be draped with a topping (shrimp, tuna, or smoked salmon) and rounded to look like a spring blossom petal: Cut out 42 pieces of clear plastic wrap, each about inches square. Lay a piece of shrimp (white side up, striped side down), salmon, or tuna in the center of each square. Place a dab of wasabi paste on each piece of shrimp, salmon, or tuna. Then place a ball of seasoned rice on each. Lifting up the edges of the plastic wrap, enclose the fish and rice, twisting the edges to make a snug, perfect ball shape. Keep the balls tied snugly in plastic wrap for at least 15 minutes, and up to hours, in a cool spot in the kitchen. (Don’t refrigerate or place directly on ice. If you are concerned about the temperature, fill a roasting pan with ice and a bit of water. Set your platter or tray of wrapped sushi over the roasting pan.)
  8. Just before serving, remove the plastic wrap and arrange the sushi, fish up, on a serving platter. You can cluster the sushi balls by type—all the tuna in one spot, the shrimp in another, and the salmon separate too—or arrange a mixture. Provide soy sauce for dipping, if you like.