Monday, February 20, 2006

Eel Avocado Roll

What the devil possessed us last night?

It rarely bodes well if I still don't know what's for dinner by the time the clock strikes seven.

Actually, our clock doesn't strike, but it does flash every hour on the hour, which is my five-year-old son's cue to shout, "Time for Beer!"

Anyhoo, if the time to start dinner comes and goes with me wholly absorbed in some pressing order of business, such as teaching myself how to make pom-poms, it's usually translates to a late and uninspired meal.

And here I"d been cursing these guys for preempting public school! With no bath and no mandatory bedtime, Bitchmother felt unharassed and festive! Yes, we had nothing to eat, persay, but there was that barbequed eel in the freezer and a ripe avocado on the windowsill. I've had that bamboo sushi-rolling mat for longer than I've had young Milo and all I've used it for is squeezing the water out of boiled spinach. Carpe diem.

It's not so much a recipe as an assembly line. Can you roll a marijuana cigarette? Good, you can roll an eel avocado roll. (Here's a little refresher course, Smokey!)

first let's go shopping at our favorite Asian grocery:
bamboo rolling mat (or 2! You might want to race!)
one package of roasted eel (it's in the freezer case and no longer resembles a snake)
one package of Nori (that's toasted seaweed, ya gaijin!)
one tube of wasabi paste
sesame seeds
premium-grade white rice (i favor Nishiki brand myself)
seasoned rice vinegar
a ripe avocado if you don't have one on the windowsill at present.
and, oh hell, throw in a Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy electric rice cooker!

I gave Greg one of these things for his 40th birthday and it changed my life!
It plays music, just like the ladies room toilets in the Tokyu Hands Department. store in Shinjuku. We can set it just like an alarm clock! It makes porridge and brown rice, is super-easy to clean and its name is Neuro Fuzzy? It's cheap at any price, but actually, it's a bit of a big ticket item, so get it at Hong Kong Market, where it's 30 bucks less than any Japanese or Korean market I've checked.

Now then. Eel Avocado Roll

Prepare your rice according to the back of the package. Make sure you wash it 3 times, and if you're using Neuro Fuzzy, program it for 'sushi'. Cabin Boy Greg wasn't quite down with the program so he only prepared one cup. I'd advise you to make at least two. When it's done, put it in a shallow, non-reactive dish (I used a round baking dish) and pour a little seasoned vinegar onto it. (i used less than a quarter cup for our skimpy portion. You can always add more as they say, so take it easy, Breezy.) Mix the vinegar into the rice with chopping, rather than stirring motions. Keep going until you've aerated it right down to body temperature. On the advice of the sushi cookbook my mother gave me several Christmases ago, I got out this paper fan the Korean Tourist Authority was giving away at last year's New York Times Travel Show and flapped that thing like I was about to take flight. I was feeling very authentic. It's a miracle I didn't drag out a kimono.

Of course you will have defrosted your eel according to package directions (i threw mine onto a cookie sheet and sent it on a little 15 minute, 350 degree mini-getaway. Slice it lengthwise - your strips should be about the width of pencils. Or skinny fingers. Or, I don't know, the width of an the eel in an eel avocado roll, were you to make a spectacle of yourself, unfurling one at the sushi bar, right in front of the chef. Smooth move, Ex Lax.

Slice your avocado.

Uncap the wasabi and put out a little saucer of sesame seeds.

Cut your Nori sheets in half lengthwise.

Put the first one on the mat.

Moisten your fingers, snatch up a handful of rice and spread it on the nori, all the way to the bottom, all the way to the left, to within a half inch on the right. Leave yourself 3/4 inches of bare nori at the top - this will become the flap that holds your roll together (if you're lucky)

Take a dab of wasabi on your finger and swab it down the middle of the rice, from left to right.
(Now put your finger in your eye.)
(I kid)
(I kid coz I love)

Sprinkle on some sesame seeds.

Lay the eel down lengthwise. Man that barbeque sauce is good, huh? If you want to do it the way the pros do, lick your fingers as a little prelude to licking the bamboo mat in between rolls. (If you're not the mat licking type, you can keep things clean by laying some Saran Wrap between the mat and the nori. Kind of takes the fun out of it, if you ask me.)

Run a line of avocado slices next to the eel.

Now, finger the goodies like the holes on a flute so they'll stay in place when you start rolling your mat up and over from the bottom, drawing on thumb power. Once you've hit the top edge of the rice, give the now-cylindrical part of the mat a good, gentle squeeze.

Take a peek. Did everything hang together, sort of? Good! Roll it up again and this time, let the top flap of un-garnished nori seal the deal. Don't worry if you made a royal mess. It still tastes exactly like eel avocado roll! Crack open a Kirin and have another go.

Use a sharp knife to cut each roll in half, then cut these halves into thirds. Try not to eat them all before you get them to the table. Serve with chopsticks, soy sauce and wasabi.

These were so delicious, and so far outside the workaday repertoire, that Greg tied a dishtowel onto his head and elbowed me aside.


Blogger Meg said...

Oh lord...avocado always sounds so good, even at 9:30 in the morning. I made homemade sushi once and then ruined wasabi for myself because I ate way, way too much of it in one sitting...

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Emily Jenkins said...

Hi Ayun! I love it. The blog. The eel photo. The whole nine yards. Can't wait for those sugar cookies!


8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. You have, like, an inch more counter space than I do, and you still whipped this up. If I wore a hat, I would doff it in your direction.

And what an awesome picture of that eel! Hot damn! (FYI, I was walking past my neighborhood Spanish/Chinese restaurant the other day, and I saw this thing in the tank. I thought it was a pipe until I noticed the gills!)

Keep 'em coming--you're the best!

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Regina said...

Cool blog. Can't wait for the book. Gotta go eat! ;-)

3:39 PM  

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