Who’s ready for Christmas? I’m certainly excited about it, though I don’t know how ready I am. Every year December just creeps up on me. I always think a year couldn’t go any faster but I’m proven wrong year after year. This isn’t a bad thing as it’s a time to bring everyone together and it gives us an excuse to indulge. Japan isn’t a Christian country but we still celebrate Christmas, it is a chance to have a party and see our families for a welcome break.
Being a chef, the expectations are set so high when I have people over, to present a spectacular display of food while thinking about the health benefits, but it’s Christmas and sometimes I need an easier dish to serve. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to share with you so you don’t have to cook for hours on end, meaning you have more time to relax before your guests arrive. Okay so if you’re lacking some inspiration on how creative you can get with your food, I have the perfect appetizer to get the night started.
Obviously you want to impress your guests with your amazing cooking talents and here’s an idea to make your own sushi, with a fun Christmassy presentation.
Are you ready to start making your non hassle, easy to eat, colourful, crowd pleasing sushi? Let’s go!
Te Mari Sushi
Te mari is one of the easiest and quickest shapes for sushi. Te means ‘hand’ and mari means ‘ball’. They are not only very easy to make but very colourful and pretty, I think of them as sushi canapés. You can use a variety of thinly sliced raw fish and I like to use smoked salmon as well.
Oyako te mari sushi – Smoked salmon and salmon roe hand-ball sushi – 親子手まり寿司
One of the most popular Japanese street foods is called oyako don, which means ‘chicken and egg with rice in a bowl’. The Japanese sense of humour has led to its also being called ‘mother and child’, which inspired me to call this recipe oyako te mari: the salmon being the mother, and the salmon roe (ikura) the child. In spring, I like to make a lot of oyako te mari and place it on a large plate, to look like Japanese cherry blossom.
Photo by Keiko Oikawa
Ingredients – Makes 4
4 pieces of cling film (hand size)
a bowl of cold water for your hands
4 thin slices of smoked salmon, each roughly 3–4cm square
1 half-handful (roughly 80g) of sushi rice
4 small pieces of dill
1 tablespoon of ikura (salmon roe)
Place a sheet of cling film on the palm of your hand, and put a piece of smoked salmon on top.
Wet the fingers of your other hand in the bowl of water, and shake off any excess. Damp fingers help when handling sticky sushi rice. Take a quarter of the sushi rice (roughly 20g) and place it on top of the fish. Bring the edges of the cling film into the centre, over the rice, and shape into a tight ball, then twist and close over the top. Unwrap the sushi and place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Garnish with a piece of dill and 3–4 balls of salmon roe on top of each te mari sushi.
You can use gravlax or good-quality raw salmon. You can also use tuna, but it won’t be an oyako!
If you want to make te mari for bento boxes, don’t use raw fish, but try thin slices of Japanese omelette, cooked prawns, smoked salmon or avocado instead.
You can find more Temari sushi and sushi recipes in my book “ Sushi at Home” by Penguin
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My Oyako Don recipe featured in the Guardian’s 10 Best All Day Egg Recipes : Oyako Don Recipe