Serving Up Spice

Cooking can be a great way to impress a date or even your friends on a night in. It’s easy to fall in love with the pastime. Once you make that first successful dish, you may just be hooked. As someone who loves to cook, there is no dish I will not attempt to make, no matter how diificult it may seem.

“It’s something that is incredibly technical and incredibly precise, but also incredibly beautiful at the same time,” Screaming Tuna chef Noah Rasmussen says.

Making sushi is an art form that can take up to a year to perfect, which is exactly how long Rasmussen has been making it.

“There’s just a lot of tradition behind it, and plus, it’s a constant pursuit to perfect yourself and perfect your craft,” Rasmussen says. “You’re never going to get there. You can always be better, you can always make better fish cuts, you can always make better sushi, you can always make more complicated things.”

Rasmussen starts working as a chef in gastropubs, higher-end restaurants that serve burgers, beer and other  comfort food, until he switches to making sushi at Screaming Tuna in February 2018. Comfort food gets mundane after awhile, but making sushi never gets boring. Even though he works to perfect the craft every day, he is still trying more complicated rolls.

Rasmussen demonstrates how to make a roll that is not even on the Screaming Tuna menu: the spicy tuna, cucumber and avocado roll topped with sliced Kampachi, a sashimi-grade yellowtail fish.

To make this complicated roll, start by taking a golf ball amount of rice and spreading it out onto a rolling mat covered in plastic wrap.

As a professional tip, dip your hands in a bowl of tempura flakes, which prevents your hands from sticking to the rice.

Second, lay a sheet of nori — which is Japanese for sea vegetable — or seaweed, over the rice and then flip everything to the other side and peel off the rolling mat so that you can sprinkle sesame seeds on the rice.

Next, set the mat off to the side and begin to slice your avocados. After you peel the avocado, use a knife to cut two slices about the size of your finger and lay them end to end on the nori. Cut the cucumber into thin slices like stirring straws for your coffee. Then take a small handful of cucumber and lay it along the avocado.

Next, spread out a small amount of the spicy tuna mix. Rasmussen explains that this is made by “running yellowfin tuna through a meat mincer and adding rayu (or chili oil), sriracha, roasted garlic and green onion.”

Finally, roll the sushi carefully making sure to surround everything inside with the nori and not pushing everything out the ends like a tube of toothpaste.

Once you have your sushi roll, slice it and serve as is or even dress your sushi up a little bit, such as making thin slices of yellowtail fish and laying them over
the roll.

Even if you cannot make that perfect roll, do not give up, because the reward will be gratifying in the end. Rasmussen says that he can make this roll in
three minutes.

My first attempts took me 10 minutes from start to finish as I followed along the instructions, but I’ll see where I’m at in a year.