Tuesday, May 04, 2010

faux-sushi - updated

Apparently I'm on the same wave-length as Mark Bittman (which I'm psyched about because I worship at the feet of his culinary prowess).  Thanks to Bonnie for alerting me to this. So many possibilities!


My shift from eating take-out every night to cooking a delicious (sometimes more, sometimes less) meal every night has empowered me in ways I'm only now beginning to realize.

A few years ago, I discovered Heidi Swanson's blog 101cookbooks, and from there, her stunning cookbook Super Natural Cooking. I would turn each page and marvel at what seemed to be completely delectable and nutrient-filled recipes, feeling that such a thing (locating the ingredients, maintaining a stocked pantry, motivating each night to cook) was somehow beyond my grasp. In some ways, I think that dreaming of being the kind of person who cooks like that (but never taking steps to be that person) kept me in a perpetual state of comfortable passivity. Nothing tried, nothing failed (or gained, of course.)

Moving back into my parents' home proved a wake-up call. I took on the task of making supper most nights, and leaped into experimental cooking with gusto. I was desperate for a creative outlet, and cooking allowed me to take risks and, so importantly, to produce something tangible and useful out through my endeavors. For someone who has spent a lifetime in academia, tangible, immediate results are something of a miracle. My dissertation may never be finished, but by God, I can cook a mean stir-fry.


"What's for dinner?" Stefan asked.

"Homemade sushi." I said.

Cue a look of disbelief as he scans the counter on which I've placed basmati rice (not sushi rice), leeks, cayenne pepper, shoyu sauce, and nori.

"At least I have nori and rice!" I said.

So, yeah, ideally I would make sushi with actual sushi rice, and avocado, and fresh tuna, and, you know, other sushi-type things. But tonight I was craving sushi, and I figured what the hell, I'll give it a shot.

The sushi, I am proud to say, was chock full of win. Subtle heat from the cayenne met by the sweetness of the shoyu and a slightly chewy rice base (I never can get rice right) made for a seriously satisfying mouthful of faux-sushi. No photos this time, but I will perfect it next week and post them so you can marvel at the ease and delicious payoff of taking a chance in the kitchen.

It should be noted that Stefan tried to steal the last piece on my dish while I wasn't looking. I think I won him over.


  1. You totally read my mind re: academia and tangible results. I've been thinking for a while that every graduate student should be required to take a cooking/baking class for the sake of the feeling of accomplishment you get when you actually produce something.

  2. I love the photo! Please let me know when you've perfected that sushi and I'll pack my chopsticks!


  3. Wow- sushi! I thought I was brave for making risotto. Agreed-- the feeling of cooking something really delightful at home is both empowering and affirming.

  4. I love Mark Bittman. Sounds like some great creative sushi!

  5. @Allison: Agreed. We absolutely should have started some kind of baking club or something in Lafayette!

    @Bonnie: You got it!

    @Rosie: Oh, you're still brave for making risotto. I find it super tricky and, of course, so time-consuming. But worth it!!

    @Kathleen: Isn't he wonderful? I've loved his writing for a while, and just recently saw one of his video entries: his personality is so down-to-earth and quirky. Love that about him!

  6. you cook every night? i am in awe. last night i had bites of homemade chocolate truffles and cinnamon bread from the farmers marker, guacamole and tortilla chips, 2 mexican beers (with lime - does that count as a fruit), and some edamame. i'm almost been afraid to get in the kitchen lately, for fear that it will eat me (or that i will eat all of it). and yes, it seems like such an exhausting to-do. you're an inspiration!

  7. @Kate: I should clarify that I cook most nights -- Stefan and my dad do some as well, but I enjoy it the most, so I usually take over on their appointed days. My response is turning into an essay, apparently, so I've copied and pasted it and it will be tomorrow's blog post. :-)