A Guy with a Fear of Raw Meat Makes Sushi

Oh, hello there! I didn’t notice you come into my kitchen. But since you’re already here, why don’t you grab a seat and join me while I prepare some delicious food!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I imagine I would start my cooking show if the Food Network would ever get around to greenlighting my pilot. And yes, I would feign surprise at my guest’s arrival every single episode. Anyway, on to the matter at hand.

I decided to give this post a cooking show flare because this weekend marked my attempt to cook something impressive. I initially considered doing something with crepes, but my no-dessert goal shot that down. So instead of going all French on the world, I decided that I would try my hand at making sushi.

The idea of me creating sushi may seem out of the box to anyone who’s been around me while I’ve eaten meat of any kind. If you’ve been blessed enough to experience that, you will know that I have a borderline obsessive terror of undercooked meat. This weird little fear causes me to cook chicken until there is virtually no moisture left, so try to imagine that worry combined with a meal that is prepared with raw fish.

That would typically deter me, but this is my year of trying new things and shattering boxes (and maybe some glass ceilings). So I thought it would be exciting to push myself to create food that I seldom eat. Let me break down this process, and hopefully, you will be a more enlightened individual by the end of it.

Part One | Buying the Supplies 

It would have been nice to have had all of the necessary supplies on hand to whip up some sushi, but like most people living in Ohio, I did not have the required ingredients stocked in my kitchen. This led to a shopping trip to grocery stores of varying quality.

I started with a stop at the local Kroger. If you aren’t from the Midwest, think of a grocery store that is slightly classier than a Walmart. Because of this reputation, I didn’t want to buy the meat there, but I figured that the other ingredients would be semi-cheap. So I grabbed the pickled ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar from their dingy aisles.

After leaving Kroger, I headed to Dorothy Lane Market (the Rolls Royce of grocery stores) to track down the seaweed sheets and meat. Unfortunately, they were out of sushi-grade fish, so I was only able to grab the seaweed during my stop there. I left feeling frustrated at the boujee establishment’s lack of meat options and decided to head to a nearby indoor farmer’s market to buy the fish.

Once there, I was told that they too did not have sushi-grade fish. But the depressed looking butchershop apprentice followed it up by saying that I could go ahead and buy fish from the case since it “probably wouldn’t cause food poisoning.” I looked aghast and said that I’d take my chances in the frozen fish section. Thankfully, I was able to locate some frozen salmon which I determined would be safe for consumption after reading a plethora of articles about raw fish safety.

I left the last store feeling nervous about what the evening would hold in regards to my attempt at making this Japanese cuisine, but I was eager to get it started.

Part Two | Making the Sushi

I didn’t feel like it would be all that fun to create sushi alone, so I enlisted the help of my friends Ali and Brian. After talking it through, we decided to create three kinds of sushi: a California roll, a Philidelphia roll, and a cooked chicken roll (more on that later). After some time spent gawking at Ali’s new home, we busied ourselves by preparing the vegetables and doing our best to thaw the frozen salmon.

Following this, we laid out the newly purchased bamboo rolling mats and got to work creating our sushi feast. This was quite the process, but don’t worry, I’ve documented it with photos to make you feel as if you were in the kitchen with us.

The entire process was a blast because it was filled with story-telling, laughter, and an obscene amount of La Croix. And in typical blog fashion, I did walk away from the experience with a few lessons that I will share with you now:

  1. Don’t use cooked chicken in sushi. I always get cooked chicken in my sushi when I order it, but tonight showed me how bad that practice is. It was like eating a burrito bowl that had been wrapped in seaweed, and it was unpleasant, to say the least.
  2. Have backup food. We ate a total of 2.5 rolls between the three of us and were incredibly hungry, but we didn’t want to have any more of the sushi. So we ordered a pizza and chicken wings to satisfy our hunger.
  3. Cook with friends. It’s not uncommon for me to prepare food alone (because, I’m single), and although the experiences always tend to be pleasant enough, nothing beats making food with people whom you love being around. That was evident last night, and it made me grateful to have friends like Brian and Ali who put up with my random food-creating goals.

So there you have it, my first attempt at making homemade sushi. It was quite the process, but I am thrilled that I did it. Will I ever make it again? Possibly. But even if not, I’ll always have the story, pictures, and the bamboo mats to remind me of the experience.

Let me know what you think!