Category Archives: How to Food

First Try at “Sushi” From Scratch: Notes for the Future

Disclaimer: I have previously taken one sushi making class, but this is my first time attempting it at home from scratch. The most important takeaway (more like the only one I remember, lol) from that class was “keep your hands moist so the stupid rice doesn’t stick!”

This set “only” took a small blood sacrifice and 2.5 hours of my time to make from start (washing the rice) to this… attempt at plating. >_> Don’t give me shit about the tray. Let’s just call it traditional? Because vermillion is a traditional Japanese color. Do I at least get a point for making it semi presentable?

  • Back Row: Gunkanmaki with (fail) salmon roses  on top of a bed of to tobiko (flying fish roe) and slivers of green onion for garnish
  • 3rd Row: Makizushi with salmon and tobiko
  • 2nd Row: Gunkanmaki with battered, pan-fried spam, toasted white sesame seeds,  tobiko and green onions again; + slice of the salmon maki roll that wouldn’t fit in the 3rd Row
  • 1st Row: Pigs in a blanket.  (Egg fried spam + green onion + a finger of rice. spam IS mostly pork, AKA pig)
  • Right: Salted, seared beef tongue makizushi with, guess what!!!!! Green onions and toasted white sesame  seeds

The takeaway? I like green onion and it grows very well in my backyard so I spam it  in my “cooking” hehhehheh.  I was trying to keep things simple by reusing only a limited number of ingredients. The most expensive thing in here is not the salmon, but the flippin’ beef tongue. The pre-sliced stuff rivals gold, price per ounce (not really). However my sister looooves that stuff, tongue not gold thank god, and this was for her birthday dinner since we were too busy to go out. Plus I’m really fond of it too.

My first roll (as represented by that lone slice piece  in row 2 was waaaay off in terms of rice ratio seeing as the filling wasn’t centered. However, I mostly got it down and was decently pleased with myself by the last roll (see the left beef tongue cross slice). I do not have a mat and this set was made without one so it is definitely possible to make sushi without it. From what I learned it’s mostly just for final shaping before plating.

The tub of tobiko required a blood sacrifice to open. Watch those nasty, sharp plastic edges 😛

Rice and Seaweed
Obviously, I bought the seaweed sheets. Did not make them from scratch.

I used this recipe for cooking the sushi rice and making the sushi vinegar, going with the version that uses 4 tbsp of rice vinegar, 1 tsp of salt and 2 tbsp of sugar. I nuked the solution twice in 15 second intervals to get everything dissolved before drenching the rice.

The above pictured spread is the results of  2 cups of sushi rice and 8 sheets of seaweed (which turned out to be way excessive). The birthday girl and my dad “helped” me fit it all of it onto the platter you see by “disposing” of several pieces.

If you can’t find “sushi rice” aka Japanese hulled short-grain rice at a resolvable price, I have a substitution for you  in the next paragraph. By the way, “first crop” rice is highly, highly preferred for the moisture absorption properties to make the grains tender and properly sticky. if you use non-first-crop or rice that’s been sitting around for a while, add more water in the cooking pot.

This is an acceptable, functional mix that i have found: 3 parts short-grain, sweet rice (aka glutinous rice, not to be confused with Japanese short grain rice) to 1 part medium grain CalRose Rice. Make sure that you BLEND the rice well AFTER washing/rinsing as the grains tend to sort themselves and settle for size. You want the mixture to be as homogeneous as possible when you add water and put it to cook.

To answer some questions:

  • The 3:1 ratio is by volume not weight. be consistent in the way you pack the measuring cup.
  • 2:1 is not sticky enough.

Update: Round 2

I made more sushi, again, the day after and changed the components ratio of the sushi vinegar a bit and found that I preferred the taste of the resulting sushi rice. For 4 tbsp of rice vinegar I added  1 tbsp + 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of fish sauce (the three crabs brand).

2 cups of rice is juuuust enough to go with 6 sheets of seaweed and make 7 rolls. I trimmed 1.5 inches off each of the seaweed sheets (8 x 7.5 inches) off the longest side then overlapped and “glued” the trims back together with a carpet of rice for the last, 7th roll

This is not quite enough to feed a family of four so I will need to cook three cups of rice next time and slap it all on top of 9 sheets of seaweed.

**Another Round: My Favorite Variation

2. 5 Tbsp white cane sugar

0.5 Tbsp Fish Sauce (Three Crabs Brand)

0.5 Tsp salt

2 Fl Oz Rice Vinegar (Marukan)

This variation is a little sweeter and pairs well with briny or salty,  rich things. Not so great with just cucumber maki or tamago yaki though. Rice probably needs another half tsp of salt for those items.

I doubled the sushi vinegar for double rice (4 cups). Feeds 6 with plenty to spare.

Things to Try

Shinode Sushi Rice

Tamanishiki Super Premium Short Grain Rice

Heng Shun white rice vinegar

More play with the sugar amount and maybe types of sugar.


Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Exotics, How to Food


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Pão de Queijo / Brazilian Cheese Puffs / Crack Balls – Recipe and Methods

This recipe is good as a dinner roll or carb loading snack for those who have gluten sensitivity as it doesn’t use flour: it uses Tapioca starch. It also seems to sit fine with people who are lactose intolerant.  All of the people with a non-severe lactose intolrance or sensitivity I know have walked away fine after consuming more than just two or three of these puffs despite the inclusion of cheese and milk in the recipe. It doesn’t make too huge of a difference compared to 2%, but I use whole milk which has more fat and a fraction lower amount of lactose. Unfortunately, tapioca starch has a high glycemic index, so those who are diabetic should not consume too many.  Better yet, don’t let them have any at all. These cheese puffs  are like pringles, you can’t have just one…

Feel free to skip this intro section if you just want the “what” (ingredients) and “how to” (methods). I will be updating this periodically as I repeat and fall upon tweaks that bring me closer to my goal.

I normally wouldn’t post this because the product I create is not perfect every run yet (the inside is not as hollow as i would like sometimes). However, a couple friends (who have not had the real thing) had been requesting that I bring it for the holiday parties, as well as give a recipe so I obliged. I think that the product that I create now is already pretty sweet, enough to share, so prepare to dig in.

I first had Brazilian Cheese Puffs at Agora Churrascaria, a Brazilian steak house, and became so enamored with them, I had a chat with the general manager about the literal, little balls of joy. I went home still obsessed so i hopped online that night and began looking for recipes. I found a couple that call for more or less the same, ingredients-wise, but the proportions I’ve had the most success with came from following TheKitchn, with a few modifications.

I followed the recipe and methods to the T the first couple of times I tried it. However I ended up with a semi different version of my own because it always came out wrong/weird if I followed it exactly (see “Notes” section). I will also be explaining steps as I go along. The primary directions will be in the main bullets. Explanations and clarifications will be in lesser bullets.

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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Exotics


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How to Pick: Taro + How to Make It Last Longer

When picking Pre-cut Segments with visible cut cross sections:

Look for the ones with as few of the purple “veins” as possible. The center should be mostly white (powdery) with few veins speckled/sprinkled in. If it starts getting more speckled toward the outer 1-3 to 1-4, that is fine. There is enough “powder” to compensate for the taste.

More white space is good because the white is “powder” (rough translation) aka the starch, and lends itself to the signature aroma and flavor of taro. It will also be “fluffy” and light in texture for lack of better words like fresh powder snow. When cooked, taro should practically melt and crumble. Dense packed, purple veiny taro  = vegetal nasty tasting taro. 

When picking out Whole Taro:

Pick the one that is the lightest for its size (least dense). Less density = more powder and fewer veins. See above for explanation of why this is desirable. 

How to Know if you Picked a Good One:

Slice it. If where is white residue clinging to the blade, congratz! You’ve picked a tasty one. That means that powder is in excess, enough to transfer onto other surfaces by contact. 

Making It Keep Longer:

When you get it home, skin it, as in slice the outer brown skin off. This will prevent the taro from “aging” futher and changing in texture.  

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY DO NOT GET THE TARO WET. NO WATER SHALL TOUCH IT. If water gets on it, it will start the decomposition process almost immediately (next day) and go bad very quickly.

To store it, wrap it in brown paper and stick it in a low humidity, cool enviorment. For me, that’s the fridge.

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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Basics, Exotics


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