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Light, bright sushi starter

Make it your own with cucumber and jalapeño from the garden or farmers market

| 24 Jun 2024 | 01:34

This edition’s recipe might appear a bit daunting, and I get it if you think such endeavors are better left to your go-to sushi joint. But trust me, learning a bit about Japanese flavors and techniques can open up a whole new world of tasty meal options. Your sushi will probably be rustic like mine – nothing wrong with that!

Health benefits from this style of eating have been well documented in blue zones – places where people live longer and healthier lives thanks to good nutrition, active lifestyles and strong community ties. Mastering the rice may require some trial and error, but each batch will bring you a step closer to sticky success!

1½ cups of Calrose brand medium grain rice (Calrose is medium grain, soft and sticks together once cooked)
2 cups water
1 small sheet of kombu seaweed (optional)
4-6 tablespoon rice vinegar
White sugar
Ahi tuna steak (or tofu)
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
Ponzu sauce (Asian citrus flavored soy sauce found in the international aisle in most grocery stores)
Thinly sliced cucumber
Thinly sliced jalapeño
Thinly sliced orange
Wasabi (optional)
Chili hot sauce (optional)


Measure and rinse rice thoroughly in medium pot, swirl with cold water and repeat until it runs relatively clear. Let stand on the stove one hour before cooking. Add water and slowly bring to a very gentle boil. Once it just begins to bubble, add kombu seaweed sheet, cover, and reduce heat to low. Set timer for 18 minutes.

Drench ahi steak in ponzu sauce and soy sauce and let stand until it reaches room temperature.

While rice is cooking, heat 4-6 tablespoons of rice vinegar with 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon salt, either on the stove or in microwave, until salt and sugar dissolve. Experiment with the amounts of sugar and salt as you get used to making sushi rice to your taste.

When timer ends, remove rice from hot burner and let stand with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Ready a large baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

After 5 minutes, carefully spread the rice over the sheet in an even layer. While the rice is hot, drizzle the rice vinegar mixture throughout and distribute gently using a wooden spoon. Let the rice cool until it can be handled. You can cover with a kitchen towel to make sure it doesn’t dry out during this time.

Heat skillet to medium high heat and cook tuna steak for about 2 minutes on each side. Ahi tuna tastes best rare and cooks quickly, so be careful! Once cooked, remove from the skillet and let rest.

While waiting for your rice to cool, slice tuna into thin strips, prep and slice cucumber, jalapeño and sectioned orange as thin as you possibly can, and organize all of your ingredients for assembling.

Now the fun! Keep a small bowl of cool water nearby. Keeping your hands wet, make 10-12 smallish oblong rice balls and organize them on a plate. Rub a tiny amount of wasabi on the top of the balls, then layer sliced tuna and top with orange and a jalapeño.

To serve, pour a generous amount of ponzu and a bit of soy sauce over top, sprinkle with chili sauce and serve immediately.