Spicy Tuna Roll, Unagi Cucumber Roll, and Hamachi Sushi – Sushi is Not Football Food

unagi avocado roll, homemade sushi
“Come over?” he asked.

I hesitated.

“We can watch the game,” he said, trying to convince me.

I still didn’t answer.

“We’ll make food and eat,” he pressed.

Football and food. He almost had me. Just one more F word and…

“Sushi,” he concluded, thinking he was victorious.


He just struck out.

Sushi for football? I did that once and so very wrongly ended up with cream cheese. Cream cheese and football works if it’s a jalapeno popper, not sushi.

However, how on earth could I turn down a game on a screen so enormously enormous that not only could I see every glistening drop of perspiration on the players’ faces, but I could peer down into each and every pore? How? How could I?!

I couldn’t. I sacrificed nachos and pizza for Peyton’s tight end, bigger than life. I do that for the love of my life, you know.

The suggestion was to make sushi, perhaps during the pre-game. I love watching the game, but listening to four ex-players bark out opinions about who is going to win, lose, or draw makes me crazy. It’s almost as painful as watching Joan and Melissa’s Oscars pre-game.

Making sushi is not a problem for me since I have done it before, albeit with mixed success. However, it was his suggestion and he had never made it before, saying that he thought I knew how. Does that mean he expected me to make our dinner after he called me out?! I held my tongue. It was a challenge.

We went to Nijiya Market on Sawtelle to pick up the goods. The fish didn’t look fabulous, but I really didn’t think it would matter given that we were going to be hacking it anyway. Some of the bricks of tuna had an odd rainbow sheen, most of the hamachi had a dreadful, drab, dullness to them, and just about everything else had been picked over down to the dregs. We did the best we could, snapped up a frozen unagi, other condiments, and headed back.

I poured myself a cocktail while he made rice. If I was going to do the dirty work of rolling, 1) he had to prep, and 2) I had to marinate my senses. I was very well marinated by the time was ready.

hamachi nigiri sushi, homemade sushi
like fish visors

spicy tuna maki (roll) - homemade sushi
spicy tuna, stale sriracha

The details of the manufacture are unimportant. Let’s just say that the final product at the end of the line was as respectable as one could expect, and in fact, the plated presentation wasn’t ugly. Unagi and Cucumber Maki can never be bad unless the avocado is rotting and well, we didn’t even use avocado, we used cucumber. Tuna and Hamachi nigiri sushi looked less like sushi and more like lumpy rice balls with oddly shaped fish visors, and the Spicy Tuna had to be made with sriracha that was a deep dark mahogany color because it had been stored in the pantry instead of the refrigerator after opening. I didn’t risk a bite of the Spicy Tuna even though I made it. McDonald’s employees don’t have to eat their cheeseburgers either. I popped one slimy, gooey ikura and that was enough. I hate fish eggs.

ikura on spicy tuna

homemade sushi, plate
better than the pre-game

My Boy won.

I forgot about the sushi.

A Quickie Spicy Tuna “Recipe”

My first experience with spicy tuna was at a Japanese restaurant in, of all places, the high desert (about halfway between LA and Vegas; in other words, nowhere near the ocean). Despite its dubious context, that was the best spicy tuna roll I’ve ever had and I suspect it has to do with the obscene amounts of mayonnaise in it. I don’t actually like mayonnaise, so there had to have been other ingredients mixed in with the tuna that made the spicy tuna roll so remarkable — probably French fries, nacho cheese, and mango sorbet.

Our spicy tuna was a mixture of about 1 c. finely chopped sashimi-grade tuna, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, and more than a few abusive squeezes of a bottle of Hot Cock. At other times, I have added or substituted nanami togarashi (Japanese red pepper spice mix), sambal, or goh-choo-jahng (Korean red pepper paste). Finely chopped scallions and crushed sesame seeds are never a bad thing, and though I would never do such a thing, I swear I have tasted either sugar or honey in a restaurant spicy tuna roll at some point.

More Spicy Tuna Around the Web:
~ At the FoodNetwork, Tyler Florence’s Spicy Tuna Roll has mayonnaise,
~ Emeril Lagasse’s is inside out, and
~ Two Hot Tamales make their rolls spicy by adding hot chili oil to the rice instead of the tuna
~ About.com has a basic spicy tuna recipe, also with mayo, and togarashi

** this post originally published on 1.14.2007 **

** a year ago today, you better not have called me “grace” **
** two years ago today, i had lunch at santa maria bbq, but i didn’t blog about it. but i know i did because yes, i keep track of everything. yes, i am that scary. **

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