Among the great cuisines of the world, the Japanese seems to be that most related to the spiritual dimension, perhaps because of the rituals associated with the preparation of certain dishes and, maybe, also because of the filmed reports from Japan which emphasise eating as a sacred moment during Japanese daily life. Well, on account of our adventure to the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, today we are going to make something tasty and light, combining Japanese tradition and our desire to experiment with new and delicious recipes such as those from Japan – a triplet of makizushi. In order to ensure we get that little bit extra from our efforts, we are going to make three: California Maki, Futo Maki and Tamago Maki, on a journey of taste whereby avocado combines with crabsticks, cucumber, Japanese nori seaweed, and sesame seeds to give even more irresistible flavour.
To make maki, the technique is always the same, only the contents and size change – so, for example, the width of the seaweed and the amount of rice used. First, make the rice for the sushi, let it cool and set aside. Prepare all the ingredients so that they are arranged around your chopping board in piles, ready to be used. Cut the crab sticks into slices, cut the carrots and cucumber peel into julienne strips, slice the avocado, prepare the mayonnaise, and the sesame seeds. Make the omelette as follows: beat one whole egg with bamboo chopsticks, season with a pinch of salt and a dash of soy sauce. Heat a pan with sesame oil and pour in the beaten egg; when it is almost completely cooked, start to roll the omelette onto itself with the chopsticks. Immediately remove it from the heat and transfer it in a paper towel placed over the makisu (a woven mat for making maki). Now, use the makisu to roll it up, pressing hard to compact it well. Now remove it from the roll of paper and divide the omelette thus shaped into two halves. Now the technique for making maki: roll the nori seaweed on the makisu, making sure you have the rough side uppermost. Wet your hands - it's a good idea to have a bowl of water next to the chopping board - take a handful of rice and quickly, with your fingertips, spread it over the seaweed, leaving 2cm around the edge of the rice uncovered (refer to the picture gallery which shows exactly what we mean). Place the cut ingredients centrally but a little towards you. If you want to add the sesame seeds, spread them evenly over the rice before adding the rest of the ingredients. Now comes the difficult part: roll the maki up on a work surface, with your fingers and thumbs helping to keep the ingredients inside. Use the makisu to roll up the seaweed, stopping at the point where the rice ends. Now very quickly, but being extra careful to not break the seaweed, dip your finger in the bowl of water and wet the end without rice. Now, again with the help of the makisu, seal the end, pressing well. Don’t panic if it doesn’t work first time: it is a simple procedure but not easy to do on your first go. Now to portion the maki, first cut it in half with a very sharp knife with the blade slightly wet, then the two halves into four other halves, and the four into eight. In this way you’ll have portioned up your maki on a regular and symmetrical basis. For the three different types of maki simply use the various ingredients described above. Serve with wasabi, Japanese horseradish, and soy sauce.
Here is how the filling should look just before rolling up the maki. Wet the strip of uncovered seaweed with a little water