28 December 2007

kapa maki

kapa maki
Originally uploaded by girl_in_bleue
On Christmas Day night we were feeling lethargic and bloated and we knew we needed healthy vegetables and rice for dinner. I mustered the strength to try making something I'd only ever eaten in restaurants before.

A couple weeks ago I'd bought some nori, the dried seaweed sheets used in Japanese cuisine. I'd been wanting to make maki, the rolls with rice and, for me, veggies, but for some others, fish or crab, like California rolls. Kapa maki is the basic cucumber roll.

From several different web sources plus my own experience in eating maki, I pieced together a how-to.

First I made the rice. I made the smallest amount my rice cooker allows, which is 4 cups prepared. Once the rice is cooked, spread it on a rimmed baking sheet so it will cool evenly. Sprinkle some rice vinegar and toss--doing this while it's still warm will help reduce clumping. You want it sticky, but not totally clumped together.

While the rice cools, slice the cucumber or other fillings you plan on rolling. I did cucumbers and red peppers. You want long, thin slices. Peel the cucumbers, quarter them lengthwise, and slice out the seeds. Then slice them lengthwise again into 4 or 5 strips.

This is where I started following the directions on the nori package. Lay a piece of nori, shiny side down, on your sushi mat. Place one cup of the prepared rice on the nori, spreading it evenly over the two-thirds of the nori that is closest to you. Keep a bowl of water handy to wet your fingertips while you're working to make it easier to handle the rice. Make an indentation in the middle of the rice, along the thirds line. Place 3 or 4 strips of cucumber in the indentation.

Start rolling. Use the mat to apply even pressure as you're rolling. As you roll, tuck the bottom edge of the nori in behind the cucumber, then keep rolling with medium pressure. Moisten your fingertips to close and secure the top edge of the nori to the roll.

Place on a cutting board and slice evenly, wetting the knife every couple of slices to keep the rice from sticking to it.

Four cups of rice yielded 4 maki. We made 3 with cucumber and one with red peppers. We added a dash of water to powdered wasabi. (This wasabi was much stronger than we've had in restaurants!)

Maki turned out to be so easy, we can't believe we hadn't tried it before! I can add all sorts of fruits and vegetables for the filling. It would be great appetizers for a party. And it's so good for you! Rice and veggies, that's basically it.

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