01 July 2008

Noxious Reek

I have been itching to try my hand at making sushi. There is a point of order here, though. 1. Not all sushi has raw fish as an ingredient and 2. sushi is actually the name of the rice, not the rolls themselves. Sashimi is the raw fish. I would not ever try to make sashimi at home. Leave that sort of thing to the experts, please.

I wanted to make maki-zushi, the rolls that have nori (sheets of seaweed) on the outside. They look easy enough. I'd put carrots and cucumbers and whatever else occurred to me at the time inside the rolls with the rice on the outside, cut them, and put them in my bento box for lunch. Awww, how cute, sushi in the bento box, right? Yeah, that's what I thought.

It took several different tries to find nori in the grocery store. Sushi rice, that's very easy to come by. A bamboo mat for rolling, yep, that's easy too. Nori, not so much. When I finally found it, the packet was filled with what felt like brittle sheets of rice paper, and they weren't quite the same color as what I've been used to in restaurants, but what do I know about nori? Not much.

I stashed it in the cupboard until I had time to mess with it.

I purposefully made more rice than would be needed for dinner one night, and after cleaning the kitchen from the mess I made making dinner, I cleared a workspace, laid down the bamboo mat, and found the kitchen scissors to cut open the packet of nori. The nori packet had detailed instructions (in English, natch) and looked fairly simple. No more complex than making a jelly-roll. I can do that.

I laid the sheet of nori on the mat, and covered it with rice as suggested, laid out my fillings, and rolled the roll. It was easy, but as I gave the roll a firm little push to seal the end, a smell rose from the nori that literally turned my stomach. Ulk. I'm going to eat this? Hmmm, perhaps maki-zushi wasn't such a smart idea. But I persevered, finding a knife to cut the long roll into little guys that look like the traditional roll.

Cutting it made it worse; I walked away from the roll TWICE to breathe some better air before I admitted defeat. I was never going to eat anything that smelled like that. Into the trash it went. But it released more of its eau de stench in the trash can in my kitchen, quickly permeating the whole kitchen. So I hustled it outside, better in the dumpster than making me nauseous every time I walked through the kitchen. I hate to throw away food, I hate contributing to the excessive waste in this country. I didn't see much of an alternative; I bet if we had a cat, the cat wouldn't have eaten it either.

It smelled like dead fish, but worse. Three days floating on top of the water dead fish. Plus something else, something like an earthy rotting vegetable smell.

What went wrong here?

Those of you who are smart-asses are saying, "Well, Luce, what went wrong is that you were trying to make sushi." Yeah, thanks. Bastards.

You'd think that Ohio wouldn't be all that culturally diverse, and mostly, you'd be right. But the nori took several attempts to find because everywhere I went, they were out of it. Yeah, they carried it, and yeah, there's the shelf tag that says NORI, but there was no nori.

I think the problem is that there's not such a great demand, and the stuff sits longer on the shelf than it ought to. The color should have tipped me off, too. Any time I've had maki-zushi in restaurants, the nori is a green so dark that it is nearly black, and smooth. This was a dark forest-y green, and bumpy. Should you soak them first? I can't imagine that would help; they'd fall apart as soon as they got in the water. As noted above, as well, the smell got worse as it sat there, absorbing some of the moisture from the rice.

Most of the time when I have a culinary boo-boo, I'll figure why it didn't turn out as I expected, make a few notes on the recipe if there is one, and I'll try it again. Sometimes again and again and again until I figured out where the misstep was.

I'm not so sure I'll be giving maki-zushi with nori a second shot.


Dawna said...

Bahahaaaa!! You tried to make sushi rolls!!!! ROTFLMAO!!!

Oh, and BTW, I try to tell EVERYONE I know, like, for serious, that sushi is NOT raw fish- it is the effin' rice!!! *huffs and puffs* Sorry, just needed to vent.

I couldn't make rolls to save my life and the smell of nori? EW. Back in the old pre-child days I tried to make it. Never. Again.

I won't even do so much to eat it.

So fishy. So rotteny fishy. It is like smoking rancid kelp. *barfs*

Lucy Arin said...

We will just file this under "well, it SEEMED like a good idea at the time...."

I'm glad for 2 things...one, I gave you a heck of a chuckle today, and two, I'm not the only one who has had a baaaaaad nori experience.