For Jamie's and my 5th or 6th date, he made sushi for me at his place. I was, of course, very impressed (and let me add, that in our two years together, he's never stopped finding ways to do special things for me). Since then, making sushi together at home has become one of our favorite meals to prepare on Friday nights. Last night, we invited a few friends over to share in the fun, followed by a game of poker later that night, and it was a great evening!
Every time we make sushi, we try something a little different, but we have our favorite combinations also. We'll make some traditional rolls with salmon, tuna, cucumber and avocado; a spicy jalopeno yellowtail dish with Japanese radish, with a sauce of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and lime juice (last night, this dish also got an unexpected flavor from my Mike's hard lemonade which I spilled on the plate, but I actually think that made it even better); sometimes we'll get more creative with ingredients like soft-shell crab, battered and deep fried, or tube squid turned into succulent calamari, dipped in cocktail sauce (we never buy cocktail sauce--simply mix together ketchup and horseradish, and make it as hot as you like!)
Jamie came up with a new creation last night which we called spicy cucumber rolls. This was a simple and fresh-tasting roll which we made by peeling long wide strips of cucumber using a y-shaped peeler (when you reach the seeds, turn the cucumber over to peel strips from the other side as well). We then wrapped the transparent strips around salmon, tuna, avocado, radish and cucumbers, with a few surprises here and there of jalapenos and siracha sauce. Secure the roll with a toothpick and pop the whole thing in your mouth. Delicious! (And if you're concerned about carbs, this is a great option, since there is no rice in this roll.)
My all-time favorite dish, though, is tuna tartare. A few simple ingredients make a spectacularly flavorful dish; it was sure a hit with last night's group.
- 6 ounces sashimi-quality tuna
- 1/2 avocado
- lime juice (1/2 lime)
- 1 teaspoon drops sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
- sea salt, to taste
- sesame crackers
Carefully dice the tuna and avocado into 1/4 inch cubes. Add the remaining ingredients and gently mix to combine so as to not smash the tuna and avocado. Lightly press into a small bowl and chill for several minutes while you prepare the sesame crackers.
The sesame crackers are large round crackers about 8 inches in diameter that can be found at any Asian market; they come in a few different flavors, and some even have tiny dried shrimp baked into them. Straight from the package they are thin and translucent. But when microwaved, they become very light and fluffy, and are the perfect way to serve your tuna tartar. On a microwaveable plate, microwave one cracker at a time for two minutes on high, or until cracker begins to puff up. Break into large pieces. Repeat with remaining crackers.
Take your bowl of tartar from the fridge, turn the bowl over onto a plate, and remove the bowl. Now take your pieces of sesame crackers and around around the tartar on the plate. Serve immediately.