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Sushi Cake

February 28, 2007

2 cups sushi rice (or a medium or short grain; short grain is preferred)

2 cups water
1 tablespoon sake
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and medium diced (1/4-inch cubes)
1/2 pound crabmeat, pasteurized or imitation
1 to 2 tablespoons Asian chili sauce (2 tablespoons if you like it hot; Michael Tosten uses Sriracha hot chili sauce)
1 tablespoon flying fish roe (tobiko) (See Cook's note)
1/2 cup mayonnaise, light or regular
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 sheet nori (dried seaweed), crumbled
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted regular or non-toasted black, for garnish
1 tablespoon flying fish roe (tobiko), optional garnish

Special equipment: 8-inch springform pan and a cardboard circle cut to fit the pan, in order to press down the cake.

Start preparing the rice at least 2 hours before mealtime or prepare rice 2 hours in advance of making filling and set aside.

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Rinse the raw rice until the water runs clear (Might take three to four rinsings). This gets rid of extra starch. Drain. Cover the rice with 2 cups of water and the sake in the rice cooker pot or in a saucepan. Let the rice sit for 30 minutes to start absorbing the water.

Cook the rice in a rice cooker until the rice is done, about 15 to 20 minutes.

If you don't have a rice cooker, cook the rice over medium heat for about 15 minutes, then on low heat for 5 minutes.

While rice is cooking, warm rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Do not boil. Set aside to cool.

Give the rice one last quick blast of high heat, then turn off the burner and remove the pan from the burner.

Pour cooled vinegar solution over rice while rice is still hot.

Let rice sit for 5 minutes, allowing rice to reach room temperature. Do not place the rice in the refrigerator - that will harden the rice. To help cool the rice down, push or separate the rice with a spatula but don't smash the rice.

While rice is coming down to room temperature, combine cucumber, crabmeat, chili sauce, fish roe, mayonnaise and sesame oil. Stir and set aside.

Dump rice into a wooden bowl. (A wooden bowl absorbs excess moisture.)

Wrap the inside of 8-inch springform pan with plastic wrap on bottom and sides.

Layer half of the prepared rice into the bottom of the pan. Wet hands slightly so rice will not stick to them and press the rice evenly. Place crumbled sheet of nori evenly over rice.

Spoon the crabmeat mixture over the nori and smooth out.

Add remaining rice evenly over top of crabmeat mixture and press lightly with hands.

Wrap cardboard cutout in plastic wrap, or use another springform pan bottom, and compress the cake by pressing down on top of the rice. Cover the pan with a damp, cool cloth and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows the cake to become firm.

Remove the top, sides and bottom of the pan. Garnish the cake with toasted sesame or tobiko, lightly rubbing the fish roe into the top of the cake. Cut the cake into wedges. After each cut wipe the knife clean with a damp cloth; this makes it easier to cut through the sticky rice.

Serve with wasabi, ginger and soy sauce for dipping.

Serves 12 to 16.

Cook's notes: Tosten buys tobiko at Meilin's House in Shippensburg, Pa.

The crabmeat filling can be replaced with any meat, egg, vegetable or seafood salad. If you don't like dried seaweed, leave out the nori.

For diabetics, make the recipe without the sugar. The cake will lose a little sweetness.

Make this dish just before serving so it does not have to be refrigerated. To warm refrigerated leftovers, microwave a wedge briefly to bring up to room temperature before serving. Refrigeration will reduce the quality of the cake, but it will still taste good.

- Courtesy of Michael Tosten of Chambersburg, Pa.

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