Eager to try out the sushi-making skills, Pati and I decided to have a mini-dinner at her house. Of course, it was not your normal dinner. It was a joint project, with everyone invited to the dinner in the kitchen, cooking. Pat and her wonderful boyfriend Pablo decided that I was Head Chef and they were the assistants. It was also very much fun for him because he’s used to her bossing him around when they cook together and now I was doing the bossing to her.. He he.
We had decided to do some California rolls, some veggie rolls and some nigiri with trout, which is easily found here, since we have a trout farms in Lake Titicaca. We started cooking the rice as they chopped the slices of veggies and I cut the trout in thin slices. I did my best and although the first batch came out all funky, eventually I got the hang of it and was able to cut some nice and thin fillets.
We continued working and halfway through we discovered Pati didn’t have vinegar in her pantry, so I had to run and get some. When I got back, her mom showed us a bottle and said, “here, here’s some rice vinegar, it was in the back”. Oh well. So we started with the rolls. By this time my friend Norio, who has Japanese ancestry and is an expert sushi maker, had arrived. He didn’t want to get his hands dirty, as he was tired, so he just looked and explained to us little sushi things. We had a couple of problems, though. First, the rice was a bit too mushy, because a) we had cooked it without apressure cooker, which is the only way to get sticky rice here in the high altitude and b) we had left it in the water too long, waiting for me to get the vinegar. 😦 Also, once I had made the first batch of rice and vinegar, I felt it tasted a little sweet, but since I didn’t know any better and was too busy trying to finish the rolls, I didn’t care. I should’ve cared, though. Here’s why: Since my hands were all dirty, Norio offered to help make the next batch or rice and vinegar for the sushi. As he started to pour the liquid onto the rice, he said “This is too sweet. It’s not vinegar.” And lo and behold: It was mirin. We had been using the wrong stuff!! So we switched to the vinegar I had bought and resigned ourselves to the fact that the first rolls would taste funny. Also, since we had used the mirin instead of vinegar to make the ginger slices, they did not taste the right way. Oh well. Live and learn.
We also made some eggplant with miso sauce. We wanted to do them low-fat and therefore not covered in egg batter and deep-fried, but apparently that gives them a better taste, because although they were good, they were not the best of them. Ugh. I hate not getting good results in the kitchen, but I take comfort in the fact that it was our first attempt and it served to fine-tune things. The NY sushi party should flow better now that I have practiced. And the rolls turned out to be really yummy, despite it all! We had a lot of them, including one which had trout instead of nori algae as cover.
All in all, we were happy with the results, and mostly, we had so many laughs, it was super fun night.