Saturday, November 14, 2009

Daring Cooks November Challenge: Sushi

I was planning on posting the wrap up of our Indian meal lamb curry today, but that will have to wait until tomorrow because today just happens to be the Daring Cooks reveal date. November's challenge was hosted by Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen and sushi was on the menu. Ayayay this was the most challenging of all the challenges for me, I was scared. First of all, the most important part of making sushi is the rice and guess what, I can't make rice. Seriously I suck at making rice and yes I even have a rice cooker and still can't make a decent bowl. It's just not my thing, I have come to terms with that, I'm over it. So when I read somewhere that the rice is so important in sushi making that there are even specialized chefs whose sole purpose is to make the rice I wasn't hopeful about my ability to complete this challenge. But I plugged along nonetheless. Secondly, I was scared. Did I mention that? Like sweating scared. And how's that for a lovely visual while making sushi? I know, I've scared you now. I'm so sorry.

The challenge required us to make three items: nigiri, caterpillar (or dragon) roll and a decorative roll. For the dragon roll I decided to do a take on Oysters Rockefeller with oyster tempura, spinach and red onion. The decorative roll was smoked salmon and avocado and the nigiri was ebi or prawn. I won't lie, making sushi is hard, for me anyway and that is mostly related to my lame rice making skills. I'm glad I gave it a go, it tasted really good and it certainly gives you plenty of room to be creative but I doubt I'll be making it on a regular basis. Some things are just best left to the professionals.

The oyster tempura recipe is below but click here for the original sushi challenge recipe and to check out some amazing sushi ideas.

Oyster tempura recipe from Hank Shaw:
1 pound of seafood, in chunks (whole shrimp or oysters are perfect)
1 egg yolk
1 cup ice cold sparkling water
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup corn starch
3/4 cup rice flour or all-purpose flour
Peanut or canola oil for frying


Tempura is about preparation and speed, heat and light and air. Remember this and you will succeed and make beautiful, crispy, light and healthy fried seafood -- yes, I said "healthy." Done properly, the oil in the deep-fryer stays in the deep fryer, and you get only a smidge on your food.

Heat your oil to 370 degrees in a fryolator or in a deep, heavy pot with a candy thermometer attached to the side. Do this over medium-high to medium heat.

Create a place for your fried seafood to rest by laying out a paper towel under a rack.

Salt your seafood and set it aside.

Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix them well.

When the oil is hot -- and not before -- whisk the egg yolk and the sparkling water together, then pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients. You must be efficient from here on in.

Rapidly dip your seafood into the thin batter -- the consistency should be like melted ice cream -- shake off a bit and drop it into the oil. Do this in batches so the oil temperature does not drop too far. Do not crowd the pot!

Fry for 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of the item. Listen. Do you hear it roiling, and popping and sizzling? Good. If you hear this sound subside, remove the fish immediately. Do not use over-large pieces of seafood or you will not get this ethereal crust.

Once the seafood is out of the oil, lay it on the rack to drain. Rapidly do another batch and get it in the oil.

If you have more than 1 pound of fish or seafood, make two batches of the tempura batter, and add the liquid to the solid ingredients in the second batch only when you have gone through the first pound of fish -- this keeps the batter fizzy, and the end result light and crispy.

Once you are done, serve at once with cold beer, lemonade or sparkling wine. Dipping sauces are excellent accompaniments, too, but for a really good tempura you really only need a squeeze of lemon or lime.


Frenchie said...

You might have been scared, but I think you did a wonderful job. The spiral rolls look so perfect and even your rice looks the way it should. It looks like you've become a pro (and maybe rice making will be less daunting in the future).

Audax said...

Well I think you are a great rice cooker I can see the rice is perfect well done it is shiny and sticky and is sort of 'transparent. And your dragon roll Oysters Rockefeller with oyster tempura, spinach and red onion. WOW WOW WOW what a creative choice. Bravo bravo bravo you are a natural. Cheers from Audax in Australia.

Lauren said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous job! I think that yours look professional and the flavours are fantastic - so creative!!

Catalina said...

Mmmm tempura!
I like the part about the sweating.
Sushi is scary stuff!
Great job!

Wic said...

you did an amazing job, this all looks absolute delicious. I love the tempura.

Jenn said...

Oooh oyster tempura, that sounds amazing!!!

chef_d said...

Wow everything looks perfect. Im intrigued by the oyster tempura, I might try it one of these days :)

~Madeline~ said...

Thanks everyone! Even though I was nervous I'm really happy I tried this challenge. Everyone's sushi looks awesome. Thanks Audax and Rose!

Lisa Michelle said...

WOW, all of your sushi turned out gorgeous, and the idea of oyster tempura is making my mouth water! Beautifully done!!

Muse in the Kitchen said...

Your rolls look delicious! Ward has been trying his hand at rolls, too, but we've been finding they don't stick together as well as we'd like, although they do taste great. ~ Belle

Madeline said...

Thanks again everyone :)

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