One of the more interesting restaurants to open in Soho in recent years is Yo Sushi, fast food Japanese style, with the longest sushi conveyor belt in the world. The basic idea is that hungry guests sit at the rather cramped counter and watch all these wonderful dishes go by, grabbing whatever takes their fancy. Bills are calculated by counting how many empty plates there are, and drinks are dispensed from a patrolling robot. In practice, quite a lot of the dishes fall short of even rather basic Japanese standards, but it is cheap, it is quick and they do have their moments: this hand-rolled sushi with lobster being one of them. I would not normally recommend domestic cooks to try making sushi, but this one requires relatively little skill.
You will need to find a Japanese shop to buy the rice, wasabi, nori and vinegar. The vinegar’s name in Japanese is Sushi-Su, which sounds a bit like a down-market geisha to me. Most Chinese and Thai supermarkets have a small Japanese section, and none of the ingredients needed is at all obscure. There is a small Japanese shop on Brewer Street which sells everything needed, and has some interesting take-away food as well. The hardest ingredient to source may well be the lobster; if this is the case, substitute white crab meat or lightly cooked tiger prawns.
Do this 2 hours before preparing anything else.
Place the rice in a large bowl, cover with cold water, stir and immediately drain. Massage the rice with the palm of your hand for a few moments. Repeat this step until the water doesn’t go milky. This process is rather tedious but utterly essential. Pour the rice into a colander and let stand for 60 minutes. The rice expands and softens
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Put the rice and the measured water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, cover and bring slowly to the boil over a medium heat. When the water boils, turn the heat up and boil for 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium again and simmer/boil for a further 5 minutes. Turn the heat low and simmer for a final 5 minutes. Leave to stand, covered, for 15 minutes off the heat.
This technique of rice cooking seems as complicated as washing-machine cycles; a rice cooker does it all automatically.
You must dress the rice as soon as the cooking cycle has ended.
Turn the rice out into a large bowl. Slowly pour
Prepare all the ingredients, including the ‘hand vinegar’ (which you must moisten your fingers with every time you handle the cooked rice).
With scissors, cut the nori into
The rolls are eaten by hand, and a good soy sauce like Kikkoman is used as a dip. Do not assemble these rolls in advance, as the nori will go soggy, rendering all your work pretty pointless. Think sushi chef here, and meticulously arrange all the component parts of the dish beforehand. If everything is well organised, then the assembly can be done easily and quickly.
© 1999 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.