My love affair with sushi began young. As you may know, my Dad was a terrible cook (though, much to our chagrin, he cooked... a lot), so it was always a treat when he brought home something store-bought when my brother and I would visit him on the weekends. Whole Foods sushi, though it was called Bread & Circus then, was one of my favorite take-out dinners. It was light, fresh, and felt "cool" to my 11-year-old brain who knew sushi was the favorite of hip teenagers on tv.
It wasn't until years later that I realized the pre-packaged, refrigerated sushi was nothing compared to a REAL roll from a true Japanese restaurant. Accompanied by sake, or Japanese beer. My one true sushi love will always be Zen in downtown Northampton, but I've been dying for the chance to try my hand at making some myself.
SO, I was absolutely thrilled when I was accepted into Millennial Central's campaign for Kirin Ichiban! My mission: to create a Japanese-inspired dish that compliments Kirin's clean, crisp flavor profile. Kirin has partnered with celebrity chef, Candice Kumai, to bring Japanese-style beer to the growing Asian cuisine movement. Throughout the year, Kumai will share special recipes and pairing tips on Kirin’s Facebook page.
Kirin Ichiban is one of Japan’s oldest breweries, with a history dating back to 1888. The beer is a 100-percent malt, first-press beer that only uses the first strain of malt liquid, which means it’s literally beer at its purest. It's a great beer for just about any meal, but is created with Japanese flavors in mind. In Japan, it's served with a scoop of frozen beer on top--kind of like a beer slushie! American bars are apparently catching onto this trend too, I hope it hits Austin before the 90 degree temps do... for more information on Kirin, check out their website.
This is actually the beer that Cory orders whenever I drag him to a sushi restaurant. I've noted his disappointment when he has to order a competitor beer--"they WISH they were Kirin," he sighs. Seriously, this is no joke. I'm pretty sure he was excited to be the fiancé of a food blogger the day I got the box of beer in the mail.
Once I started, I just couldn't stop, and ended up making three different rolls. I made two traditional rolls–California and Philadelphia–and one that I came up with on my own: tempura shrimp with mango and avocado, topped with eel sauce. I am not a huge beer connoisseur, though I am learning, so I tend to stick to the lighter beers. Kirin Light was perfect for me and my sushi FEAST I created for myself. I used a sip of Kirini Light and a bit of pickled ginger in between rolls for the ultimate palate cleanser.
For Cory, I made a heavier dish--a Japanese-inspired stir fry. This was a better fit for Kirin Ichiban. The slightly-sweet, slightly-spicy, thick sauce made with ginger, mirin wine, and soy sauce complimented the smooth Kirin Ichiban. Cory said that the beer was "crisp, smooth but still flavorful. A slight fruitiness that counteracts the heaviness of the food."
Overall, this was a really fun campaign, and really opened my eyes to the versatility of Kirin beer. I think it'd make an awesome summer BBQ beer, too!
(Adapted from recipes by Alton Brown, Just One Cook Book, and the Kirin Ichiban packet)
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbs rice vinegar
- 2 tbss sugar
- 1 tbs salt
- 4 sheets nori seaweed
Philadelphia: smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber slices
California: crab (I used boiled snow crab), avocado, cucumber, black sesame seeds
QLCC Roll: shrimp tempura, avocado, mango
California: spicy mayo (3 tbs mayo + 1 tsp sriracha sauce)
QLCC Roll: eel sauce (equal parts mirin, soy sauce, and sugar, reduced over high heat to a thick sauce)
-Rinse rice until water runs clear.
Bring rice and water to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Mix rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.
When rice has cooled to room temp, slowly fold in the vinegar mixture. Let sit for ten minutes.
Cover your sushi mat with plastic wrap and fill a small bowl with water. Place nori on mat and cover with about a half cup of the rice, leaving a little space free of rice (1/2 inch or so) closest to you for adding your fillings.
Carefully roll your mat with the nori, distributing firm but gentle pressure as you roll. Use the water to wet your fingers so the rice and sushi does not stick to them as you work. For an inverted roll, flip the nori over once you have added the rice and moisten your sushi mat with a bit of water to keep it from sticking.
Once you have rolled the sushi, use a very sharp knife to slice it. It works best to cut in halves until you have about 8 pieces. Top with desired sauces, and serve!
For shrimp tempura: Use deveined shrimp with tails. Coat in corn starch, then dip in a mixture of 1 cup cold water, 1 egg, and 1 cup flour. Deep fry in hot oil. Once tails are bright orange and batter has crisped, remove from oil and pat dry with paper towel.
Japanese-Inspired Stir Fry
(Recipe adapted from AllRecipes)
- 1 pound sliced boneless steak
- 1/4 cup mirin wine
- 3 tbs cornstarch
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbs white sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp pressed garlic
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1 head baby bok choy, thinly sliced
- 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
- 1/2 white onion, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup snow peas
- White rice, cooked
-Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Brown the meat on both sides, then set aside.
-Use the wine to deglaze the (still hot) skillet and reduce heat to medium-high. Add the remaining oil and add onions, peppers, garlic, and ginger. Cook until onions are transluscent. Add mushrooms and snow peas. Cook 5 minutes, and add bok choy.
-When vegetables are tender, add the soy sauce mixture and stir until thick. Add in the beef and drippings and cook until heated through.
-Serve over rice.