Where is my Valentine?
He is on a plane to Japan!
But we celebrated yesterday, and
will celebrate again when he is back.
In the meantime I am making Valentine
sushi and onigiri, for the kids.
But before the recipe here is my February Giveaway!
Japanese food is my favourite, along with Italian food, of course, and since I am celebrating a Japanese Valentine (I even gave chocolates to my husband, in Japan women give chocolates to the boys for S. Valentine, not the other way round!), I have a little Japanese giveaway for my followers: if you like Japanese food you can use these plum blossom paper napkins, bamboo mini forks and cocktail sticks for your next Japanese dinner!
To enter just become a follower of this blog (if you aren't already, but please make sure that your avatar is on the list of followers of this blog, Alessandra Zecchini, just under the title bar) and leave a comment to this post. I will post the prize to the winner, no frontiers! You have one week from today!
Next, just a few words about the photos. Yesterday I had a lovely lunch with some fellow New Zealand blogger (well, actually one is Indonesian, one English, one Scottish and, with me Italian, I can really say that the New Zealand food blogging scene is quite ... mixed!), and the host, Arfi from HomeMadeS, showed me a new iPhone application to take photos. So this is my first experiment, I am glad for it, since my husband had to take our camera with him to Japan!
The other bloggers present were Mairi, from Toast, and Allison, for Pease Pudding, it was a lovely afternoon, and I am happy that I finally met in person some of the Auckland bloggers!
Are there any more??? Please come forward, I would love to meet you!
And now to the recipe(s). I know that the contest says that I should publish only one recipe, but this is basically the same recipe with two different variations: the first is a sushi roll, and the second just a variation of it, especially for those readers who may not have nori, sushi vinegar of Japanese rice at home. They both look and taste Japanese. Serve with soy sauce.
Heart Sushi for Saint Valentine
I find cooking rice for sushi challenging: you need to buy proper sushi rice and then wash it several times in cold water, until the water runs clear. And then cook it by absorption. The doses are about 1 and 3/4 (three quarters) cups of sushi rice for 2 cups of water, but that depends on the type of pot. You need a pot with a good lid, or you will loose too much steam. I kind of regulate myself by ear now, since I know my pots and pans. Bring the pot to boiling point, lower the heat and simmer until all the water has been absorbed. Once the rice is ready pour it into a bowl and stir it with a wooden spatula, cooling it with a fan if you can. I then add some ready made sushi vinegar, about 2 tablespoons, but this is my personal taste. If I don't have sushi vinegar use 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, a little sugar and a little salt (to taste, and I don't like to use too much sugar or salt myself!).
To fill this sushi (which is Vegan) I used a combinations of thin carrot sticks and takuan (Japanese pickled daikon) sticks, but you can use what you like!
Place a sheet of nori seaweed on a sushi mat, add the rice and the filling, roll and, once you have your sushi roll, pinch the edges to shape it like an heart (this takes time!!!). The most difficult part is to cut the sushi, as you may loose the heart shape, so gently re-touch your sushi pieces with your fingers.
Heart Onigiri for Saint Valentine
If you don't have sushi rice, nori seaweed or sushi vinegar, or a sushi mat to roll your sushi, you can still try this method:
Cook some short grain (not long grain, basmati or Thai) rice by absorption and then start working it when it is still warm. Wet your hands with water, and rub them with just a little salt, then press some rice into a heart shaped cookie cutter. Add something colourful in the centre, I added a umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum), and then gently press the heart out of the mould into a serving plate.
This version is very easy and effective!
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©