This month was hosted by Renee! We got an early start in the month and that was good because weeks and weekends fill up around this time of the year like its nobodys’ business! She found this book on Sushi and boy was it a thorough one. Probably 50 different rolls and a couple of soups, noodles and rice dishes thrown in there. Three of us made rolls, and then we had a shrimp & rice dish and tempura & noodle soup!

So we started off with some store bought seaweed salad. I could eat this for days and days! Probably cause its salty…. But store bought was allowed in my mind because it came from the H mart!

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But this was the only store bought item of the night, so keep on scrolling to see the rest of our delicious creations!

This was the sticky rice vinegar flipping portion of the evening. I never knew how the rice got sticky like that! All I know is that it is important to flip the rice and not stir it as to release too much starch!

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This was the first impromptu pieces put together by impromptu Joanne. You should really see Joanne in the kitchen. She is a little buzzing birdie with all of the energy and talent anyone could ever need. I’m glad I have her there to teach me things and bring up my own confidence in cooking techniques. So back to the sushi! I think it was salmon and very simple – just atop rice with a nori belt. Dang that fish was good quality! Hoorah H-Mart.

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Here is Julie rolling out her inside out sushi rolls. What lovely delicate hands you have Julie!

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This was number two impromptu sushi roll. Maybe it wasn’t impromptu?? Joanne clue me in! I have no idea what was tucked inside the nori, but there was a good helping of weird Japanese kewpie doll mayonnaise and topped with roe! I did not try this one…

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And frying action commenced! WE (as in Joanne and Alayne) fried up shrimps and two kinds of vegetables. That hot oil is mighty scary.

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And the fruits of their labor. Deeelicious tempura atop a “soup” of noodles. I helped with the broth for the sauce thanks to Ned’s teachings and the amazing meal he made me back in September. So this elusive sauce – a dashi. The cookbook called to use a quick dashi powder which you just reconstitute. But since Ned had made the dashi from stock previously, I had the ingredients to make it from scratch. So Joanne and I tried our darndest to make 6 cups of it from the ingredients I had. I think it turned out awesome! Classic umami – gotta love it.

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Here was Alayne’s decadent roll. Why decadent you ask? Cause it had kobe beef! She sauteed some of that up and rolled it with fresh chives (courtesy of Renees backyard) and kimchi. (and you know whats cute about Alayne? She loves Japanese food so much she named her two beloved kitties, Kimchi and Miso! Also I think those kitty names are just cute ones anyway!)

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Here was Maria’s rich dish. Very rich I say as there was alot of that kewpie doll mayonnaise used… It reminded us of a shrimp salad, which is fine, but our palates just could not handle it! No worries Maria, you will do better next month!  (Boy do I sound presumptuous… unlucky recipes just come along sometimes and my first cookbook club venture in November 2008 was no exception!

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This was another shrimp dish for the evening. An Alayne creation! I have no idea what the other filling ingredients were though…

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Now to my very basic rice topped sushi. I blanched asparagus and snow peas. Newsflash: Blanching only requires mere seconds of cooking in boiling water. How did I not know this?? Somehow I thought blanching was more like boiling… Joanne steered me in the right direction and the veggies turned out great. Then I made nice little long scoops of rice, topped it with the veggies, made a nori belt and added a dollop of aforementioned strange mayonnaise. I was amazed how tasty my simple rolls were! Alayne helped me get my rice log technique down. (which basically consists of making your hands wet and manipulating the rice in your hand for like 15 seconds before shaping it. A bowl of water is crucial to sticky rice manipulation. Otherwise you will have sticky rice club hand and that is never a good thing!)

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Next was the slightly more complicated vegetable roll. I used a mandorine and sliced carrots really thin. When I had got 20 good sized slices I added them to a small pot with 1/4 cup of dashi stock. Then I put it to a boil and allowed the carrot slices to absorb the dashi, making them “seasoned” as the book called it and giving it very good flavor. Then I blanched some scallions and use those to make belts. I also macerated up some ginger with a microplane grater and topped the roll with just a smidge of the ginger. This was the favorite one that I made. The teensy bit of ginger really added alot to it!

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So last but not least, here was Julie’s masterpiece. A Mango and avocado inside out roll and the icing on the cake was having it rolled in the tempura fried bits of batter. My favorite of the evening. Having that texture contrast and the awesome flavor of the filling just made it wonderful.

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So all in all, the sushi cookbook Renee chose was a perfect one for us. Maybe it could have used a little more explanation on each page, but maybe that the sushi novice in me speaking. Lots of creative and tasty recipes and beautiful photos to boot!

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And just because she is the honorary member of the cookbook club, here is our required picture of the adorable Colette. Isn’t that name just beautiful?? And boy does she loves to suck! Whether it be her thumb, or binky, or the flavor of that night, mom’s finger, its so cute. And I really love her baby smell.

So onwards to next month! Alayne is hosting and we are doing Jose Andres! Can’t wait to try to teach everyone my poor knowledge of the Spanish language!

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