In the very early ’90s, sushi became popular in New Zealand and I found out the sushi that I already loved, wasn’t cherished among my peers. Not then anyway. Before this discovery, my sister and I had been happily enjoying raw fish sushi in uncool bliss. At school, instead of bags of chips, we snacked on small packs of dried seaweed.
When The Koala and I visited Osaka, Japan in 2008, we were surprised to find sushi we are familiar with here in NZ, is quite different to Japanese sushi. Like so many imports, sushi has morphed away from tradition. Tried and true is great, but weird reproductions can be great too. NZ was not ready for raw fish in early ’90s. There had to be another way. Chicken sushi, which is novelty in Japan, converted hoards of New Zealanders to sushi and it’s unlikely you’ll find a sushi joint in NZ that doesn’t offer it. Where would we be without wacky combinations to humour our palates?
Some less than authentic sushi I’ve enjoyed over the years:
- Smoked chicken sushi
- Smoked salmon sushi
- Canned tuna sushi
- Deep fried oyster sushi
- Green curry chicken sushi
- Pineapple and cream cheese sushi
- Bacon and egg sushi
I must have eaten sushi an average of once a week over the last 10 years. That’s over 500 times yet I’ve never made sushi. Lamenting I should have learned long ago, I commandeered my mother and requested her sushi method. Mum first learned sushi-making by spying on professional sushi makers and the rest is down to experience.
We gathered a bounty from what we already had and trips to several stores, Dad sliced salmon fillet into fingers of orange-pink and Mum and I prepped the rest.
2 cups cooked and vinegared sushi rice
5 sheets nori (seaweed)
4 rashers streaky bacon
4 anchovy fillets
1/3 cup mayonnaise
10cm length of cucumber
5 large cooked prawns
3 peach slices
80g salmon fillet (cut into fingers)
We made 1 regular roll:
- Salmon, avocado, cucumber and mayo
And in true kiwi style, we made 2 experimental rolls:
- Prawn, peach and avocado
- Bacon, anchovy, mayo, cucumber and avocado
I wish I could post a “How to roll sushi” guide or give you a step-by-step from a beginner’s point of view or even tips, but I cannot. I am proud of how my sushi rolls turned out (for a beginner) but I’ve far from mastered the art of sushi. I’ve got a long way to go yet! They were all delicious and I’m excited at the prospect of future experiments. Got any good combinations to aim for?
I’ve had spam sushi, a favourite of Hawaiians. Gak!
I’d like to give spam sushi a whirl sometime. Even if it’s not too flash. I’ve been fascinated ever since I saw Anthony Bourdain eat it on his show.
Oh my gosh! I laughed out loud! It’s so true; many of the foods that introduce us to other cuisines don’t exist in those food cultures at all.
In the States, we have a super duper popular Philadelphia Roll: smoked salmon (a nod to our Jewish appetizing past on the East Coast), Philadelphia cream cheese, and cucumber.
But your bacon roll? Goodness me, just the thought of bacon, mayo, and avocado in a roll makes me salivate!
btw, have you read Trevor Corson’s The Story of Sushi? He follows the path of a group of Americans (mostly) enrolled in sushi academy. Fascinating stuff!
Teehee, I suspected you might enjoy the bacon roll 🙂
The Story of Sushi sounds great. A Western perspective on sushi is right up my alley.
I was at our local grocery store where they have fresh sushi made by 4-8 sushi chefs. I was very surprised to see that they had a machine that cooked the rice and dispensed it onto the seaweed sheet, perfectly evenly and to the exact weight. How amazing is that. For your first time, Genie, these rolls look great. Congrats!
I want that machine! My very first roll was the hardest, but once I got the hang of gently distributing the rice it wasn’t so bad. You need a combination of getting it perfectly even without handling it too much or it will get squishy.