COOKING IN THE CAVE: Sophomore chef rolls right through new sushi recipe

Sophomore Katia Dahmani and freshman Ben Miner tried their hands at two recipes. Next, Ben will give his account of making brownie trifle.

(Photo by Nina Dym)
Sophomore Katia Dahmani cuts a completed hosomaki roll, one of two types of sushi she and freshman Ben Miner tried to make.

I’ve always considered myself a good chef. I’ve successfully made a whole variety of foods, such as chicken parmigiana, burgers and cupcakes.

But when making tempura shrimp rolls with my Cooking-in-the-Cave buddy (freshman Ben Miner) challenged my cooking skills, I realized how inadequate a chef I really was.

I love sushi because of its great taste, so I’ve always wanted to learn how to make it. During my visits to sushi restaurants, I’ve watched the chefs make the rolls and thought, “It can’t be that hard!”

Boy, was I wrong. Thankfully the recipe I came up with (with some help from a Food Network webpage on how to cook a California roll) is relatively easy.

Now let’s get cooking!

I started by putting the rice in a pot with about two cups of water.

Strike one: apparently, this was too much water, which my friend sophomore Nina Dym kept telling me when my rice turned out too sticky. But I’ll get to that later.

Then I tried to shell the large shrimp I had purchased only 30 minutes before cooking.

Strike two: the shrimp were still frozen, so I had to soak them in hot water.

While I was carefully shelling my now un-frozen shrimp, my rice needed stirring. I then had to race through shelling, so I could get back to stirring my rice, to prevent it from burning in the pot.

When my rice was finally done, I put it in a large glass bowl so I could deal with it later.

Then I began to prepare the tempura batter for the large shrimp.

After drenching the shrimp in the batter, I realized that I had overcooked my rice, a critical mistake.

I slowly folded the flavored rice vinegar into my rice, and stirred it until all of the rice had an even amount of vinegar. Next I fished the tempura shrimp out of the oil and set them in a paper-lined basket.

While taking the shrimp out of the scalding oil, I asked Ben to start thinly slicing a cucumber and avocado for the sushi filling.

I was too focused on the tempura shrimp to prepare the vegetables, so luckily Ben could do the job.

Now I had all my ingredients, and it was time to roll the sushi up.

This, I would come to find out, would be one of the most complicated things I have ever attempted.

I used a bamboo sushi mat and wrapped it with plastic wrap to prevent the rice from sticking.

I decided to make two types of rolls: a hosomaki roll (with the seaweed on the outside) and an uramaki roll (with the rice on the outside, also known as an inside-out roll).

For seaweed on the outside, I put the seaweed down first, then rice on top, followed by a thin layer of the cucumber and avocado slices, and tempura shrimp. Because I had no idea how to roll the roll, I went to the best source of information: YouTube.

After watching a two-minute video, I felt like the sushi-rolling master.

Strike three: I put in too much filling and rice, which made my roll too thick and almost impossible to roll.

But, as a chef, it’s important to learn how to work with your mistakes, and that’s just what I did.

As I rolled more and more rolls, I gradually became better.

When Ben and I finally tasted the sushi, we were surprised, mostly because it tasted good despite how it looked. We were also surprised by how sticky and hard it was to eat!

The first bite was nice, but swallowing it was so hard that Ben had to rush for water.

This stickiness was a result of my adding too much water to the rice and overcooking it.

Other than this mistake, my rolls were surprisingly visually and kind of edibly pleasing, once you got past the fact that it was almost impossible to swallow them.

Ben can vouch for this.

By Katia Dahmani

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