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Sounds & Flavours

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Let's make some sushi at home

22.05.19 | Sounds & Flavours

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Sushi is probably the most photographed food in the world. The aesthetics and colors attract anyone, even those who don’t like raw food. However, if the taste is even better than the image, then there’s no denying we’re gonna crave some more.

I’m a sushi lover in all its shapes and forms and instead of going out for dinner or risking my health in those buffet restaurants (I advise you not to do that! That’s not sushi.), I always think "why don’t I try cooking at home?". The truth is, it's not that complicated.

It requires some patience and skill that you’ll acquire through practice. So, today we’re going to talk about sushi, what you need to cook it at home and some essential tips you gotta keep in mind when cooking this ancient art of Japanese cuisine.

𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐄𝐒𝐒𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐈𝐀𝐋𝐒

BAMBOO ROLLING MAT
A bamboo rolling mat will help you roll perfectly even while keeping all the fillings firmly in place. Mats are becoming easier to find, especially online. There are even kits that already carry the "basic tools" such as the bamboo mat (or Makisu, as it is called) to roll sushi and seaweed leaves.

FAN
This can be anything you have on hand, from a stiff placemat to a folded newspaper. Use it to quickly cool down your rice as you fold in your seasoned vinegar. Rice that is too hot when assembling your rolls will steam the nori and mess with the final texture of the roll.

SHARP KNIFE
This is key. A dull knife will destroy your handiwork. You need a sharp blade to cut through the nori and rice in clean, precise pieces. Dipping the edge in a little vinegar will also keep the rice from sticking to your knife as you slice.

GOOD SUSHI RICE
Almost all commercial surfaces already sell rice for sushi, which is quite different from the other usual qualities. It’s not worth trying to cook rice that is not of this type unless you want to have a completely different experience.

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𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐑𝐄𝐃𝐈𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐒

Everyone likes different things in sushi so the ingredients to use should meet your tastes. You have vegetables - cucumber, avocado, asparagus, jalapeno, green onion, carrots -; protein - shrimp, salmon, tuna, kani - and fruits - mango, strawberry, apple, pineapple, pear. You can also add cream cheese which always tastes good.

𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐃𝐎 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐃𝐎 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐑𝐈𝐂𝐄?

What I do is just remove the liner from the steamer, add rice vinegar solution and fold the rice while fanning it for a few minutes, then just leave it alone for 30 minutes with a towel over the container to prevent drying. It seems to work for me. Don’t forget that seasoning the rice should be done after its cooked. The rice vinegar solution shouldn’t be added at the same time the rice is being cooked.

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𝐈𝐌𝐏𝐎𝐑𝐓𝐀𝐍𝐓 𝐓𝐈𝐏𝐒

THE RICE
Start by washing the Japanese rice well until the water comes out clean and drain for a good 20 minutes (to ensure that all the water has been absorbed by the rice grains). Then it's simple. Simply bring the rice to the fire, with water, until boiling (on low heat), always keeping the pan covered.

THE RICE SEASONING
You need Japanese rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. Simply dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar and then mix in the rice when it is cold.

THE ALGAE
Remember: there is a rough side and a smoother side. It’s on the rough one that you put the rice, so that this pastes well. The algae must be crispy and when folded by hand, they split and emit a crackle of their own.

SPREAD THE RICE
The trick to keeping your hands always wet is to dip ice cubes and drops of rice vinegar into the water where it will get wet. This causes the temperature of the hand to drop relative to the rice, and the vinegar does not stick to the hands. Some subtlety for you and it goes a long way.

USE A GOOD KNIFE
Washing the knife the moment you cut the sushi roll is one of those tricks that always looks good as long as it is done with a pint. Soak the tip of the blade, let the water trickle through the knife and wipe it with a cloth.

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𝐀𝐁𝐎𝐕𝐄 𝐀𝐋𝐋, 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐍𝐄𝐄𝐃 𝐏𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄. Things may not go well at first, and there’s no problem with that because it’s with the practice that you’ll manage to make a delicious sushi plate. The advantage of cooking at home is that it's a lot cheaper than going to a good restaurant, you can experiment with different ingredients and gain experience that can come in handy when you want to impress friends or family.
Try it and tell me out it goes!

PASTA NON BASTA

16.05.19 | Sounds & Flavours

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PASTA NON BASTA - Avenida Elias Garcia, 180 B (S. Sebastião), Lisboa

For many years in Lisbon, pizzerias dominated the gastronomic scene of the city. A little bit everywhere, Italian restaurants were born with different quality of food, at clearly exaggerated prices. The offer was increased and increased to the point of making it impossible to differentiate the restaurants. Worse, the quality of food declined and pizzerias lost space for the new fashion of hamburgers and Japanese food.

However, in recent years, this trend has changed again. Good Italian restaurants have returned, rewarding quality ingredients, good cooks, spaces renewed and appealing from social networks.

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One such space is the Pasta Non-Basta. Located near the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, it has become one of my favorite places to eat good pasta in Lisbon. Bizarre as I am with the food and with the taste of the dishes, I was curious to know if they would match the expectations. Anyone who knows me, knows that talking to me about carbonara, is halfway to get in the car and go eat a plate without thinking twice.

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The restaurant has a takeaway service, facing the street, where the pizzas oven is located. At the entrance, they have a small grocery space with various products that are used daily and from there, high tables for two people and beyond that, a room where each table takes four people. The decoration meets Italian motifs, mixed with different and attractive graphic elements.

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I sat at one of the tables at the entrance and began to peek at the list. It's not very extensive - which is good - and has traditional as well as other bold dishes, so the choice turns out to be relatively simple. The pizzas - made in a wood oven - are varied and honestly, the ones I saw hanging out on other tables, had excellent aspects. I choose a carbonara because nothing beats a carbonara. I'm a classic! The fresh, tasty, well-seasoned pasta with a different flavored sauce won me off at the first bite. This is where you see the above-average quality of Pasta Non-Basta.

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There's an attention to the preparation of the dishes and there's talent in the kitchen. That makes all the difference. They make the pasta in the restaurant. Where do you find this nowadays?

I went there for lunch, on a working week, and it wasn't too crowded, although it can get a bit crowded on weekends, as it should. It was quite affordable, as far as the price was concerned, and even if it had been a bit more expensive, that was no problem. I think I paid about € 15 with drinks.

Easily, Pasta Non-Basta is in my top three Italian restaurants in Lisbon. I strongly advise to try it!

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