Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sushi Cake

I was inspired by my own blog to make the sushi cake recipe that my cooking teacher in Japan, Nansai sensei, taught me last year. I'd forgotten how tasty it is plus it looks really cool! I also noted a problem with the original recipe, namely that I know intuitively that a cup of rice refers to the Japanese rice cup measurement of  3/4 cup,  but that the rest of the world may not know this! Oops! I revised the recipe and updated it for both the original post and now this one.

Idatakimasu I humbly receive,

Sushi Cake 
Adapted from Aki Nansai


Kombu Dried Kelp/Seaweed, 1 stick (2 x 6-inches)
Rice (short or medium grain rice is what is  used in Japanese cooking), 3 Japanese rice cups-- 3/4 cup each-- or 2 ¼ cups!
Kombu Water, 3 Japanese rice cups or 2 ¼ cups! total (to include 3 Tbsp of Sake)
Sake, 3 Tbsp

Rice Vinegar, 60 cc + 10 cc (to make up for the amount the carrots absorb)
Sugar, 1 Tbsp
Salt, 1 ½ tsp

Carrot, ~¼-inch (5 mm) thick flower cut x 8 flowers (~½ carrot)
White Sesame Seeds, 3 Tbsp
Rabe/Rapini, ~2 cups fresh then boiled, drained, chopped (save 8 florets) (spinach or broccoli also work)
Ground Chicken, ~8 to 9 oz/200 to 250 gm
Soy Sauce, 2 Tbsp
Sugar, 2 Tbsp
Mirin, 2 Tbsp
Sake, 1 Tbsp

Eggs, 6
Sugar, 3 Tbsp
Salt, 1/2 tsp

8-inch (21-cm) round springform pan with a removable bottom
Damp towel by the stove to cool down the pot
Chopsticks x 4
Plastic Dough Scraper
Wide shallow bowl
Vegetable Cutter in the shape of a flower
Rice Cooker or heavy bottom pot with a tight fitting lid

What to do
  1. Soak kombu kelp in water for about 1 hour. Save the water to cook the rice. 
  2. Wash the rice three times and drain x 30 minutes
  3. Cook the rice: Mix together the rice and liquid (kombu water & sake) which should be of equal amounts- cook on the stove top in a heavy bottom pot with a tight fitting lid or a rice cooker. 
  4. Stir together the vinegar, sugar, and salt to make the awasezu sauce.
  5. Cut the carrot with a flower shaped cutter, boil it, and then soak it in the awasezu sauce. 
  6. In a dry pan over low heat, roast the sesame seeds, stirring a bit, about 3 minutes. Grind them gently in a suribachi bowl (or some kind of mortar and pestle) to release their aroma, about 1 minute.
  7. Place a damp towel, folded like a hot pad, near the cooking area to cool down the pan as needed.
  8. In a pot over medium low heat, stir together the chicken, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sake. Cook until the sauce is absorbed, about 15 minutes, stirring with 3 or 4 chopsticks to prevent clumping. Cooling the pot down as necessary on the damp towel to prevent it from cooking too quickly.
  9. Whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt. In a pot over high-low to medium-low heat, add egg mixture and stir often with 4 chopsticks to break up the eggs and keep them broken apart. A spatula is also helpful-- spread the mixture and scrape the mixture repeatedly to keep it smooth. The eggs should sound wet (slurping sound) when stirring them. They will be moist and bright yellow. Cook until almost set, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and continue to stir a few times to be sure that the eggs stay broken apart while cooling. Chop them up with the dough scrapper if needed.
  10. Wipe clean an 8-inch springform pan with a removable bottom and deep sides. 
  11. Boil the rabe, drain, and squeeze out water.  Save 8 florets for a garnish and chop the remaining finely.
  12. When the rice is cooked, dump it into a wide shallow bowl to cool gently- may fan or use a damp cloth. Remove the carrots from your awasezu sauce and pour the sauce over the rice. Use a rice paddle and chopsticks to stir so that the rice won't clump into a ball. When the rice is shiny and cool, stirring with rice paddle and chopsticks, mix in the chopped rabe and sesame seeds. Divide in half.
  13. Using a plastic dough scraper, place the egg mixture into the cake pan. Press from the center outward, along the edges, and then down to form a tight even layer. Next add half of the rice mixture and again use the plastic dough scrapper to press evenly from the center outward, along the edges, and then down to form an even tight layer. Repeat this method with the cooked chicken and then the other half of the rice mixture. Finally, press firmly down on the whole cake evenly. Repeat to insure it is pressed together firmly and evenly.
  14. Release the cake from the springform pan. Use a long knife to assist in the release of the sushi cake from the pan. Place a serving platter on top of the cake pan. Invert the pan and gently remove the pan. The bottom will still be in place. Again use the knife to slip between the pan and the cake to facilitate the pan's removal-- a kind of slurping sound is heard as you release the egg layer. Remove the pan bottom. Garnish the top of your sushi cake with the carrot flowers and the rabe florets. Cut into 8 pieces and serve.
Sushi Cake-- made with eggs, sushi rice, rapini, and ground chicken

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