Anchored off a fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, my daughters, Eleanor (8) and Frances (6), sat at the dinette, manipulating small piles of found objects and plastic pieces into spiral shapes as part of some kid of game.
“What’s this?” I asked, picking one up and accidentally disturbing an entire place setting with my big fingers.
“Da-ad!” they both exclaimed, “It’s sushi, please put it back.”
“Do you guys know that when I was your age,” I said, pausing for emphasis, certain I was about to rock their world, “…we never ate sushi.”
Both of them looked up at the mention of their favorite food, “Because you didn’t like it, or they hadn’t invented it?” Eleanor asked.
I explained how fewer people traveled then, how cultural influences weren’t as widespread, and that sushi hadn’t yet become popular in the United States.
“I feel bad for you Dad,” said Eleanor.
“Yeah, me too,” said Frances. “Can we have sushi tonight?”
Aboard Del Viento, our 1978 Fuji 40, sushi rolls are part of our regular dinner menu, even when anchored hundreds of miles from the nearest sushi bar. It’s healthy, easy to prepare, and the essential ingredients are non-perishable and can be stowed easily until the fresh ingredients are readily available. When that reel on the stern begins to sing, why not start the rice cooking? Making sushi rolls is easier than you might think.
Short-grained rice, white or brown. I use ½ cup cooked rice per roll.
Avocado (thinly sliced)
Yam (sautéd or roasted)
Green onion (thinly sliced)
Extra firm tofu (baked)
Sashimi (fresh tuna, mahi-mahi, or salmon)
Crab (cooked, real or imitation)
1. Prepare sushi rice. Rinse the rice until water is clear, then cook according to instructions. While rice is cooking, combine 1/3 cups rice vinegar, 2T sugar and 1t salt in a small bowl; whisk until dissolved (for 4 cups cooked rice; adjust for different amounts). When rice is finished, transfer to large bowl; pour vinegar mixture over rice and fluff with a fork.
2. Mix wasabi powder with water per the instructions and set aside (the longer it sits, the more flavor develops)
3. Prep desired fillings
1. Lay a bamboo mat on a cutting board or flat surface, then place a sheet of nori on it, shiny side down. Pour ?up rice vinegar into a bowl and place in-reach, along with the prepared sushi rice and fillings.
2. Wet your hands with rice vinegar and grab a small handful of rice. The vinegar on your hands will help handle the sticky rice. Spread the rice onto the nori evenly in a thin layer, leaving a 1in strip of bare nori along the top edge.
3. About two inches from the bottom, lay desired filling across the rice in a 1in row that stretches the length of the nori.
4. Roll the sushi. Begin by rolling the bottom of the rice-covered nori over the top of the fillings, using the bamboo mat as a mold. Tuck the roll snugly, and shift it up the bamboo mat as you roll toward the edge of the nori. Just before you reach the top, wipe a bit of rice vinegar on the exposed nori. Then finish rolling.
5. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into pieces.
6. Repeat until the rice is gone.
7. Invite your crew to dig in, using soy sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi and sesame seeds to taste.
If you need more reasons, besides good sushi, to become a fishing sailor read Robert Bateman’s story How (and why) to become a Fishing Sailor.