SUSHI has a lot going for it as a delicious, readymade alternative to a sandwich. The rounds of compacted, short-grain rice wrapped in seaweed sheets have plenty of nutrients.
Rice has protein to sustain us, is low in fat and has some B vitamins. Sushi appears as rounds, while nigiri is barrel-shaped without the outside seaweed casing. The rice (meshi) is usually flavoured with rice vinegar (su), a little salt and sugar, and sometimes oil. The seaweed wrap of sushi supplies additional protein and minerals, and the fillings deliver even more.
The idea of raw fish puts many people off. They may be thinking of sashimi, raw fish without rice. However, sushi doesn’t have to include raw fish. It often has cooked fish, and vegetarian sushi is popular.
It’s not easy to make, taking some skill rolling the sheet of seaweed with the rice and filling, but the Obento sushi kit (Dunnes Stores €9.99) includes a mat for rolling, along with a bag of uncooked rice, soy sauce and wasabi Japanese horseradish.
It will keep adventurous children amused for a morning. Be careful of the hot sinus-clearing wasabi. All samples tried
included pickled fresh ginger and soy sauce. Add shredded seaweed by Healthy You from the Coal Quay Market, Cork, and others listed at seaweedsalads.ie
Maki Sushi Rolls €12
Three tall pieces for €4 each were divided into three normal-sized sushi rolls at my request. Deliciously fresh raw tuna, cucumber and chives were finished with toasted sesame seeds. Creamy avocado had a contrasting crunch of cucumber, spinach, cabbage, carrot and tahini and miso sauce (vegan) — all full of flavour. The fresh crab offering had avocado, cucumber and sesame seeds. A favourite for freshness and variety. English Market, Cork.
Miyazaki Organic Maki €14.50
Eight substantial pieces with good quality organic salmon belly, spiked with chives, cucumber, and shredded cabbage, had so much flavour we hardly needed the accompanying sauce and pickled ginger. The rice was tasty and correctly slightly sticky, but not claggy. “Balanced and flavoursome” was the verdict. From Miyazaki at 1a Evergreen Street, Barrack Street, Cork. Check 021-431 2716 for best ordering/collection option.
Okawari sushi €6
The prettiest of the selection, creative and colourful, Chris fishes for what he puts into sushi including the delicious fresh crab he gets from his pots in East Cork. Sushi is made to order, or you can buy a selection which is already made up. Tasters liked the fresh flavours and artistic presentation. We tried two fresh crab and two egg. Good rice also. At Mahon Point and Douglas farmers’ markets, Cork.
Dashi Sushi & Noodle Bar Futonmaki Platter €10.50
A varied selection from this well-established takeaway and (usually) dine in, included sea bass, salmon — most of it raw — and decorated with avocado, rocket, cucumber. A cooked version is available. Good, light rice enclosed the fish, along with the seaweed sheet. All had a freshness and zing enjoyed by tasters. At 11 Cook Street, Cork. Call 087-2605330 order ahead and collect.
Lidl Oishii Sushi Assorted Maki Selection €4.49
Maki means a roll, and is what we think of as sushi. Varied fillings include chicken, tuna, smoked salmon, tiger prawns, crabmeat in good rice. Tasters liked it. A good Irish product made in Dublin.
Wabisabi Nigiri Selection €12.20
Nigiri is barrel-shaped sushi rice that can be topped with a strip of any food. In this case, two each of four types were sake (salmon), Tomago (Japanese omelette), Suzuki (sea bass) and a strip of avocado fastened with a band of nori seaweed. All eight pieces were tasty and fresh with good rice. Available at 89 Princes St, Cork. Call 021-4279884 to pre-order, but not essential.
Aldi Glorious Sushi assorted sushi €4.49
As fillings are varied and mainly cooked, tasters thought the crab stick with cream cheese, prawn, crabmeat and salmon spiked with vegetables were a good introduction to sushi. The rice was a little chewy. A good alternative to a readymade sandwich. E951 is the sweetener which contains phenylalanine and E102 the colouring tartrazine which the label notes may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children. Also available in SuperValu.
Marks & Spencer California Roll Selection €6
From a selection which includes vegetarian, these California rolls have no raw fish, instead the tuna (from Indian Pacific or SW Atlantic) is cooked and rolled with red pepper, prawn (from Honduras) and pollack (from North Pacific). A lot of miles there. There is also avocado, spinach and cucumber in the rolls. The result is slightly chewy rice and fish which was pleasant and a little sweet in places.