Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I love sushi. I mean, I really love sushi. Like, I could eat it all day, every day. And I almost don't care where it comes from. Sushi buffet? Hell yeah! Grocery store sushi? Sure, why not! When Troy and I talk about what kind of competitive food event we could each excel at, my food is sushi.

That being said, it's really a bit of a sin that I've never tried to make sushi myself at home. You'd think that as much as I love it, I'd have given it a whirl by now, but alas, I have only laziness to blame.

A couple weeks ago, I realized that they carried sushi-grade fish at Hmart (awesome Korean grocery store chain) and I bought a little bit to try out. I bought a package of chunks listed as "sushi with vegetable" that oddly included no vegetables whatsoever. It mainly consisted of chunks of fish that I assume were scraps from trimming the nicer, larger pieces for sale. I ate it as sashimi, and it was surprisingly good, not to mention dirt cheap. So last weekend, I dragged the family out to the Hmart again and we bought about $35 worth of ingredients. As it turned out, this was enough to make quite the sushi feast...twice!

As a rule, I generally prefer sashimi, but I do also like some of the more fancy rolls that you can get nowadays. Just to make it interesting though, I decided to stick mostly with rolls the first time around. Oh, and I also used this funny little maki sushi roll maker that my grandma got me like, 10 years ago. It was a bit involved, but fun to use, and it made nice, even, square-shaped rolls. I also made a couple with the more traditional rolling mat (makisu).

The first few rolls were, well, let's just say wonky. I didn't take a lot of pictures of those. In fact, I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked overall, partly because Troy and I were starving and we were eating these as fast as I could make them, but also, it just got to be too labor-intensive, so I gave up on the pictures. All told, I probably made 4 large rolls, 4-5 small rolls, and a couple of nigiri pieces on the first night, and I still ended up with a TON of fish left over.

IMG_11742 by you.

Here's one that I made toward the end though with the makisu. In fact, I decided to get really fancy and attempt an inside out roll: eel, cucumber and asparagus, with sesame seeds on the outside.
IMG_11745 by you.

The second night, I had a better system worked out. I also decided to force Troy to wait until I had finished making everything so we could sit down and eat together like civilized people.
IMG_11750 by you.

Clockwise, from the top left: salmon, cucumber & asparagus roll, tilapia roll, tilapia and cucumber roll, spicy salmon & avocado roll, tuna nigiri (maguro), salmon nigiri (sake), and spicy tuna roll

Overall, everything was very very good. The only disappointment was the package of eel that I bought. It was rubbery (especially the skin, which I ended up having to take off) and kind of flavorless. Unagi is normally one of my favorites, so I was pretty bummed that none of the rolls I made with it were very good. I'll likely skip that the next time.

The biggest surprise was how well the package of chunks that I bought worked out. It was $6 for 3/4 lb. of tuna, salmon and tilapia. I ended up chopping the individual varieties up into smaller bits and mixing them with sauce (mayo and sriracha) to make spicy rolls and they worked out beautifully. Major bargain score.

We will definitely be doing this again. I've already told Troy that we may need to invest in one of the big flat wooden bowls (hangiri) so that I can mix the rice properly. I don't think he realizes that I'm not really kidding.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dump Cake

IMG_11610 by you.

I don't always cook from scratch, but I am normally pretty adamant about baking from scratch. However, lately I seem to be going through a phase of throwing together convenience stuff from mixes. Last night was no exception. The weather here has cooled off quite a bit in the last week, so Troy decided to make chili, which is one of his specialties. I contributed by making cornbread (from a Marie Callendar mix), and dump cake. And I have to say, it was all super delicious.

Dump cake is basically like cobbler with cake mix for the crust. It's about as easy as it gets. I literally dumped things into a 9-inch square pan, in this order:
1 can of pie filling (I used peach, but any kind will work)
1 can of crushed pineapple (juice and all)
1 package of yellow cake mix

I spread things out a little bit so that the layers were even, but that was about it for mixing. Then I put pinches of softened butter (about 1 stick) all over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until the top is browned and the filling is bubbly. Best served warm, with ice cream.

IMG_11614 by you.

This was insanely sweet, so it really needed the ice cream. I've seen other versions that use canned fruit instead of pie filling. I may give that a whirl next time around.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Random pictures

Sorry I've been MIA again. Not going to make excuses this time, but I'm working on getting back into the blogging groove. In the meantime, here are some photos of things I've cooked but been too lazy to actually write entire posts about. They're actually all things that I make on a semi-regular basis so I promise, I'll come back to them and post recipes eventually.

Curried chicken thighs with veggies, over brown rice

IMG_11260 by you.

Homemade pizza - before baking

IMG_11265 by you.

And after baking (and a minor catastrophe transferring it onto the pizza stone)

IMG_11269 by you.

And just for you, Sun, here's a "cheeseburger muffin" that I made for my daughter's school lunches. It's an idea from my friend Shannon's bento blog: basically cornbread mix, with browned ground beef and shredded cheese tossed in. Scoop and bake. My kid goes gaga for them. I also added some freeze-dried green onions, but you could make these with pretty much anything in them.

IMG_11536 by you.