Saturday, November 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Shouldn't Move

That is my lesson for this month: If you want to be a Daring Cook or a Daring Baker, you should not plan to move from your current home any time soon. Although I've been in Rain City (not really a city; population about 5000) for almost a month now, I still had to scurry like a trapped rat to get the challenge completed in time. The moving-in process is approaching completeness. Or so I like to tell myself until I reach for one of the two sushi mats I know I own and find that they must still be in a box in the garage.

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

I love sushi, so I really wanted to participate and I slowly found the most basic ingredients in various and sundry of the stores in Rain City. I've made sushi before (but not for a really long time; see below), so I thought this would be fun and relatively easy.

Half-way through the preparation of all the parts.

The reality? Not so much on the easy. I could not find any sushi-grade fish of any kind (except for a two-pound chunk of albacore this afternoon, way too late to thaw it). My solution was to coat a tuna steak from the supermarket in black sesame seeds and pan sear it. I couldn't lay hands on my rolling mats, so I was rolling on a kitchen wash cloth. I managed to seriously undercook my rice for perhaps the first time in my life and we had rice with very hard centers. The wasabi I bought was the worst tasting wasabi I have ever met, but it was my only choice. And, as always, I was rushing to finish it while Little Girl was slurping miso soup desperate to eat her real dinner, so I couldn't take a lot of time to make it look pretty and do helpful things like hold together well.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that I completed the challenge with a dragon roll stuffed with cucumber and baked tofu; the spiral roll with cucumber, asparagus, and tofu; and nigiri with baked tofu and a black-sesame-seed-crusted seared tuna. It was all quite tasty if you could ignore the occasional rock-like grain of rice, and after Little Girl had eaten what she was going to eat, I made another roll with tuna and avocado. Yum! I unfortunately did not have the camera quite as ready to hand as I usually do, so there aren't many pictures and virtually no pictures of the process. The tofu was designed to replace the unfindable eel we were supposed to use for the dragon roll. I dearly love it, but I made the tofu with as much similar flavor as possible and it worked well.

The finished platter of rolls and nigiri.

The other good news (I hope you agree) is that you get another story of the dating trials of Husband and me. The last time I made sushi was on our first date-like event*. We were both taking the worst course ever offered by our otherwise-wonderful graduate department. One week, there was a lecture (of real interest) that overlapped with this class and I joked that I was going to get the professor to cut class short so we could go. Husband said that if I got class cut in half, he'd take me out to a movie.

I called the professor and made the suggestion. She very happily said that this got her off the hook because she was going to have a hard time getting to class that day, so she'd just cancel it altogether and send out an email about the lecture.

I walked back to Husband's lab and asked what he'd do if I got class canceled. Dinner and a movie, was the answer. Well, huzzah! A few days later, we made sushi together because he wanted to learn and I'd made it a couple times before (this is why I have TWO rolling mats) and then went to see Chocolat. We got to our seats, the movie started, chocolate started appearing on the screen in large and delicious-looking quantities. And Husband pulled out a fancy box of chocolates, which had been hiding in his coat. I swooned, but he didn't notice because it was a dark theater.

That sushi definitely didn't include fancy inside-out, avocado-covered dragon rolls, something I am very excited to know how to make. So, many thanks to Audax and Rose for inspiring a new era of sushi-making in my kitchen! We all love it, there isn't a sushi restaurant in Rain City, and there is a tuna fishery here, so we'll be making it again, with fully cooked rice.



*Not an actual date; that wouldn't occur for almost another year. It just sounds like something people would do on a date.