sushi5I’m navigating a rocky, erratic path through the #100HappyDays project. If you don’t know about #100HappyDays – you can read about it here

Maybe it’s the loss of light and the long dark nights. Maybe it’s the cold seeping in under the doors and through the walls, and into my bones. Perhaps it’s just the small tragedies of everyday life but I’m oscillating somewhere between fatigue, lethargy and depression.

Someone I know told me lately that basically I hadn’t been there for them –  that we’d lost the thread of conversation or rather, that we were in danger of losing it – essentially that I hadn’t been a very good friend (at least, that’s how I heard it). It was a tough year. It’s true. It was a year in which I’d moved three times (sold the family house, moved into a temporary place while we house hunted, and then renovated and moved into a new home), dealt with health issues, wrote and submitted a manuscript, worked at my day job, spent time with my family, and drove a thousand kilometres every other month to visit my elderly mother. And during all this, I’d tried to be there for my friends as best I could in between walking the dog and eating and cleaning and trying to keep my life on track.

This friend – the one I’d dropped the conversation with – mattered to me. I’d made the effort to have her over to all three of the homes I lived in during the past year. I apologized of course but the more I thought about it – the sadder I became. Because sometimes you are just simply not enough. You can only divide yourself into so many pieces. And even though you try your level best to be decent, to be caring, to make time for all the things happening in your life – you are still not enough for some people. I didn’t even bother to mention that I really could have used a friend during this time too. Conversation is a two-way thing. And that sometimes, with the people who really understand you, the thread is never dropped no matter the time or space between you. Still, this is what happens when sensitive souls collide.

It’s interesting how deeply it hurts. The feeling of accusation. The sense I have that I let someone down in a time when my own life was spinning out of control.

Time to move on. Time to find joy again. Book a trip to Mexico. To England. To France. Walk the Camino (I know – it’s becoming a cliché but I’m still going to do it). More walking my dog. More running. More reading. More yoga. More love. More time with people who love me back. More time in my kitchen. More sushi. Less sorrow.

Sushi is the catchword for Japanese food made with cooked, vinegar-ed rice combined with a variety of ingredients including vegetables and/or seafood, and even fruit. There are a multitude of presentations but the thing the western world commonly refers to as “sushi” is makizushi – or just maki for short – and this refers to the rolls usually made using nori – black seaweed wrappers. Nori is a type of algae, traditionally cultivated in the harbors of Japan. Don’t let this put you off – nori is incredibly healthy – a superfood in fact. Uramaki is the term for sushi rolls made inside out – that is the nori is on the inside and the rice is on the outside.

If you haven’t made sushi before – you can actually attempt this at home! It is do-able. It’s time-consuming but actually rather fun and you will get better as you go but your mistakes will taste just as good as the perfect rolls you manage to make as you progress. This is where life and sushi differ – mistakes in life rarely taste so good. I try to make the rice the night before and refrigerate it but that’s not necessary. Just give yourself adequate time for making sushi – it’s not a process you can rush through unless you’re a trained Japanese sushi chef.

Sushi rice works best. It’s short grain and gets sticky when cooked. You can also use any short grain rice but the texture will not be exactly the same and it will be slightly more difficult to work with.

Sushi is the perfect party food because it’s special, it’s bite-sized, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free. It’s healthy and mostly – it’s just so fabulously tasty. It’s easily made vegan or vegetarian. (Though to be fair – there’s some controversy about whether nori is actually vegan – but it is sea weed and there are brands that specifically state vegan on the package.)

SUSHI

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

For the rice:

  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar (don’t skip this)
  • 1 tsp salt

For the sushi:

  • I package nori sushi wrappers (about 10-12)
  • various fillings including thinly sliced cucumber, peeled, sliced avocado dipped in lemon juice, thinly sliced blanched carrots, smoked salmon, raw sushi-grade fish (salmon and tuna are pretty straight forward), cooked shrimp or crab meat, cooked salmon, shittake mushrooms, sliced mango, sliced cooked sweet potato, etc.
  • pickled ginger, wasabi, and soya sauce for serving

To begin with rinse the rice. Place the rice ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir well. Turn the heat off – cover the rice and walk away for 20 minutes. Setting the time is a good idea because you will need to come back and give the rice a stir (or it will end up as one solid lump in the bottom of your pan). Refrigerate until well chilled.

Once my rice is chilled I set up a work station with all my ingredients finely slivered in small bowls – my saucepan of rice – the nori wrappers – and a bowl of water for dipping my fingers in to seal the nori as I go.

The first step once you are prepped with cold rice, fillings, and bowl of cold water – is to lay out a sheet of sushi – and working with your hands – take a handful of rice and begin packing it on the nori. You want to get a thin layer covering most of the surface of the nori. Take the time to get the rice all the way to the side edges but leave about an inch rice free at the top to make sealing your rolls easier.

rice on nori

Once the rice is packed onto the nori, you can start to add toppings. The picture below is an Avo-Q roll – avocado and cucumber. This is a classic and favourite vegetarian roll. The crisp cucumber and creamy avocado are perfect texture companions. Don’t overload your sushi. It will be messy and too hard to roll neatly. Some people use a bamboo mat for rolling but I find I have more control if I just roll it up by hand.

Avo-Q rolls

To finish the rolls – dip your fingers in the water and run your wet fingers along the one inch empty space at the top of the roll. Begin rolling from the bottom – wrapping the last inch around the roll neatly. Try to keep your rolls nice and tight as you go.

finished, unsliced roll

To cut the rolls – first take a sharp knife and run it under cold water. Slice the rolls in uniform bite-sized pieces – chopping the ends off first so that your rolls are neat (proper sushi chefs don’t need to do this). Set the ends aside for samples.

If you are going to serve the sushi much later – don’t cut the rolls before serving. Instead wrap them individually in cling wrap and refrigerate. Remove the sushi from the refrigerator 10 minutes before serving. Slice – and serve with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soya sauce.

A small glass of sake wouldn’t go astray either. Kanpai!

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32 thoughts on “more sushi, less sorrow

  1. Wow, I am so sorry to hear about the situation with your friend. I understand where you are at completely, since I am on the receiving end of the same myself. You have so much on your plate I don’t know how you juggled it all, maintained your sanity and composure, still churn out amazing blog posts, I’m sorry but true friends understand and it comes off as a bit selfish on their part and very insensitive to say such a thing to you. The sushi is beautiful and I have never attempted (probably never will) to make my own. I think you did an amazing job it looks professional. I do love sushi, had some the other night at a work party.

    1. Dear Suzanne – thank you and like you, I’m sorry to hear that is so familiar to you. Relationships can be hard and yet are so fundamental. And sometimes our own hurt is the biggest stumbling block. I’m trying to circumnavigate that now.

      If I lived in Brooklyn – I likely wouldn’t make sushi either – you probably have fabulous sushi right around the corner.

  2. I am not the greatest fan of sushi (though a good sushi is great!) but making it must be such a great of way focusing on things that are not negative; I find a comparable “comfort” in rolling gnocchi, shaping dumplings, or simply kneading dough. I was very moved by your story, especially since I am going through a difficult period with a few friends of mine – it can be so hard to be a good friend in certain circumstances, and I am glad you find comfort in so many different ways. It is sad to hear someone who matters to you judge you. But as you rightly say, it takes two to make these things work! I hope the next year brings you more peace and quiet.

    1. Darya – thank you. I’m always so happy to hear from you. I loved your comment here because obviously you completely understand the therapeutic value of time in the kitchen. Gnocchi sounds like a perfect project. Perhaps I’ll add that to my menu shortly. And I wish the same for you – understanding and peace and moments of great joy.

    2. I’m going through the same thing Darya. It’s nice to hear that some of my favorite people (both of you guys) seem to be going through similar things. When you pride yourself on being a good person, a generous friend, etc., it really feels like a personal failure when friendships you cherish don’t go your way. xo

  3. I love making sushi because it is one thing I make that actually looks good. Sometimes I use the dark red sticky rice just for variety. Yours look very good.

    1. Thanks Hilda. I’ve never used the dark rice for anything except a rice pudding. Would be interesting in sushi. Do you still use nori to wrap it? There’s an excellent sushi restaurant in Kingston – Sima – at the bottom (lake) end of Princess. They do a beautiful vegetarian sushi wrapped in pink rice paper. So elegant.

  4. You have had a lot on your plate. Try to remember, mistakes and regrets are opportunities for learning and growth. It sounds like you already know that. Even “mistakes” in the sushi are part of the learning process. These are beautiful. I’ve pinned it for later. Kiddo has expressed an interest in making sushi and you’ve inspired me to give it a try.

  5. Just “knowing you” as I do as a blog friend I appreciate what you express and share. Friends, close ones and friendly souls that come and go may sometimes feel a bit on the fringe of one’s busy life but it really goes both ways. There are moments, different friends, situations, understanding and loss…life does this.
    Sushi is an interesting process to illustrate laying it all out there and carefully handling the issue. For me, mashed potatoes and butter has the same effect.

    1. Oh yum to mashed potatoes and butter! Yes! Thanks for your sweet comment. The interesting thing about being hurt is that’s always the ones we love the most – otherwise it wouldn’t hurt. Something for me to think about. Lovely lovely lovely to see you here. Always.

  6. Lindy- you bring tremendous joy and beauty to your friendships. You are a treasured new relationship in my life. And I can vouch, this glorious sushi you made was crafted with love and was completely and utterly delish! Stay the course, my friend. ..100 more happy days to come. Amy xo

  7. It’s like you took the words right out of my mouth re your friend. Bravo on finishing your manuscript, moving places and managing to move on. Now I’m craving sushi smack in the middle of Sunday …and everything is closed.

  8. Like love, “friend” is a single word encompassing an incredible range of intensity. That provides inevitable misunderstandings and often, interactions that are “not enough” for one, and “too much” for the other.
    Since the odor of a burned meal still hangs in the kitchen, I’m thinking boiling water for rice might be something I could take on, as long as all the other ingredients can be raw or purchased precooked!

    1. Dear Ned, Yes you’re right – misunderstandings are inevitable. But I do believe in trying to figure them out – specially with the ones that matter. And this one mattered.
      I think perhaps you should do takeaway… much easier than sushi… and for the guy who burns the grilled cheese – takeaway is a very safe option. 😉

  9. Wow. I cannot believe you made this! Gorgeous. I”ve always been nervous to give it a try, but I just had the most amazing sushi experience and really would love to try this. Sigh…As for the friend situation, I”m going through it right now. My best friend hasn’t really been being very open with me, we’re talking maid of honor at my wedding, attached at the hip kind of friends. Now she’s not even talking to me. We work together, co-captain a sportsteam together and used to hang out all the time. Now we are merely cordial. It’s such a painful loss. I think ultimately she is just not comfortable enough with herself to be present or thoughtful. I tried to see what was going on with her but she shut me out. I keep thinking “what did i do?” “how could I have been a better friend?’ But ultimately, I’m mad that she isn’t asking herself the same questions. There is a way to confront someone about their friendship without being hurtful. The fact that you’re so upset means that you care. It’s totally possible to be a kind, loving, loyal friend even while you’re going through your own things and I’m sure that you are that kind of friend. A true, secure friend would understand that and reach out to you or be patient. It sounds like you reached out many times even during your tougher times and that your friend needs more than you can really give. Friendships can be complicated, but don’t beat yourself up. Just kind of find your new balance and the friendship will either heal itself or you’ll realize it’s not what you need at the moment. Even if it feels horrible. It seems to me that you’re a strong person doing the best you can, which is all you can really ask of yourself. It’s funny, my dad reads my blog and he was like “your online friends seem a little bit nicer and more supportive than your real friends”. Hang in there. OH I’m also going to Mexico and Spain. Nothing gets you out of your head like travel does! xo

    1. Dear Amanda – communication is so fragile – isn’t it? Little hurts can fester and pile up and before you know it the pile of hurts and tiny tragedies and assorted micro-atrocities gets unwieldy. I hope you somehow find a happier resolution with your friend. I have with mine. I think ultimately, we all just want love and to know we are cared about. And it’s when we doubt that that all goes wrong.
      My darling daughters made the sushi in the photographs for a family dinner. They are TALENTED.
      Add Kingston to your travel list! 😉 Just not in winter. Brrrr….
      Your dad has a point. One thing that blogging gives us is a connection with like-minded people who we wouldn’t otherwise meet.. such a gift. I hope you blog about your dad sometime soon so that I can meet him too.
      xo

  10. I know exactly what you are going through, and definitely it is not easy. I hope time will heal all the pain.
    Now, as for the sushi… they are beautiful as all your dishes are. Although I grew up in Japan, I am not into raw fish. However, to my delight, sushi comes in every form, and I agree, being finger-food, and with little bit of wasabi and soy sauce, it can be very popular. 😀 )))

  11. Wow, you really have had quite a year! Sorry to hear about the stressful situation with your friend Lindy. It is especially bothersome because she really matters to you. It’s so strange when friendships go south. My sister in law and I have been very close for 15 years. She moved to Seattle and everything went south from there. It has taken me two years to figure out our “new relationship”, which is not at all how it was before. But I guess since she’s family I’ll just have to roll with it and accept the changes. It really has saddened me though. Hope all is well and you are finding happy things to write about for your #100HappyDays project! Oh, and sushi…don’t get me started. Love LOVE sushi and we have a sushi night at home quite often. We put our son in charge as the sushi chef…it’s a blast. I read how your daughters made the sushi in your photograph. They are really good at it! Those rolls look nice and tight. 🙂

    1. I’m so sorry Seana. It seems this is rather universal.No one is immune & relationships don’t necessarily always travel in a positive direction or even the direction we expect them to travel in. Though south of Seattle is quite beautiful! I can vouch for that myself 😉

      Love that your son is the sushi chef. My girls are better at it than me. I’m usually in a pretty big hurry in the kitchen (and everywhere else!). I expect you know the feeling. xo

  12. I’m very fond of sushi, Lindy; this is very nice.
    I am sorry that this past year has been so hard on you.It seems to have been a very hard year on quite a few people…let’s hope with all our hearts that 2015 is just a great year all the way around!
    I certainly hope that your helth is better and that peace surrounds you.

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