Between all of the MasterChef stuff and racing to get our Weeping Angel costumes ready for BritCon this weekend, life's been kind of nuts. Well, not kind of... it's been really insane.
When our bodies revolted on Sunday morning and prompted us to forgo Sunday at BritCon in favor of recovery time, the sudden clearing of 1 day's schedule allowed us a few minutes to think... and I realized that it's my birthday this week. WHAT? End of May already?! How did that happen?
My birthdays are usually kind of weird around here. I never really feel like doing anything social for them, and they're so soon after my husband's birthday. As he didn't get birthday parties before we met, I just feel it makes more sense to pull out all the stops for him, and coast on mine.
This year, though... I had an idea. I wanted a SUSHI CAKE. Porter was so happy that I actually had an idea/plan, he had NO problem with hopping in the car to go pick up the stuff to make it. It came together quickly and easily, was fun and TASTY.
Well, my birthday may not be til Thursday - the day I planned to post this - but I made the mistake of posting some pics to Facebook, and I've been nagged to post the recipe NOW. So... here we go!
This is more of a general guide / "how to", than an actual recipe. You can tweak this to suit your tastes, how many people you'll be serving, what kind of equipment you have on hand, and what ingredients are available in your area. I decided to base this cake on one of my favorite maki rolls, Tuna, Avocado, and Mango Maki - partially because tuna is the easiest fish to find as "sashimi grade", locally. Use whatever makes you happy!
A note on the rice:
We made this, gave it a good press, and served it immediately. If you are serving it immediately, use Sushi-seasoned rice for best flavor. HOWEVER if you plan to chill the cake before serving, just use regular "sushi" type rice, without the seasoning. Sushi-seasoned rice gets hard when chilled, not so appetizing.
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Prepared sushi type rice, either seasoned (to be served immediately) or unseasoned (if cake will be chilled)
Sashimi grade fish of choice
Mayo & Sriracha, if you want to make Spicy filling
Masago and/or tobiko of choice, optional
Vegetables and/or fruit of choice (We used avocados, cucumbers, and mango)
Wasabi - ideally in powdered form
Rice Vinegar, optional
- First, prepare your ingredients. We chopped (and promptly refrigerated!) the tuna, and thinly sliced the cucumbers and mango. We chopped the avocado and tossed it with a bit of rice vinegar to prevent oxidization.
- Decide what you'll be using as your cake mold, and line it well with plastic wrap. Be sure to leave the ends of each piece of plastic hanging over the edges. Not only will you need to fold these over the cake when pressing it, they will help you unmold the cake!
(For reference, we used a 4" springform cheesecake pan, and it made probably 3 servings worth of sushi.)
- Have a bit of a design in mind before you start placing your items. For our part, we wanted the cucumbers to look like "swags" on a birthday cake. Because this would be an outermost part of the design, we placed them first, in a ring around the bottom of the pan (which becomes the top when the cake is inverted!). You could also place a design of vegetables, fruit, sesame seeds, or fish on the bottom of the pan.. creating a build-in design when the cake is inverted. You know, like a sushi upside down cake!
Once the cucumber border was in place, we pressed a layer of plain white sushi rice into the bottom of the pan, to be a clear, perfect cake "top". This also helped hold the cucumbers in place.
To make the "sprinkled" side of the cake, I mixed a generous amount of masago in with some white sushi rice, and firmly pressed it evenly along the side of the pan.
Once the sides were pressed in, we started layering the ingredients. The first layer was a round I cut from a nori sheet, followed by mango slices.
At this point, we noticed that Turbo had run off with a scrap of nori, so we had to watch, photograph, and generally pay attention to her. NO idea why she became so obsessed with seaweed! She's kind of a weird cat...
Anyway, we continued layering ingredients until the pan was almost full, pressing down firmly and evenly whenever we could. We ended with a final layer of rice, to make it easier to handle.
Once the pan is full, fold the ends of the plastic wrap in and over the cake, and press down FIRMLY and evenly to compact the cake. We happened to have a small plate that fit perfectly inside the springform pan, so we used that to press it all down.
If you're going to chill it, chill it now.
To serve, peel back all of the plastic wrap and carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate.
Once the cake is inverted, feel free to decorate it further. We decided to mix up some wasabi to pipe "Happy Birthday" on top, and a little bead border along the bottom edge. I just used a regular pastry bag... and if we'd had more wasabi powder on hand, I would have made more wasabi, thicker, and piped a rose from it! (If you do this, freeze the rose for a few minutes after piping to make it easier to transfer to the cake)
In addition to wasabi "frosting", there are so many ways you can decorate a sushi cake:
Sprinkles: Use sesame seeds (plain, toasted, and or black!), tobiko or masago (in various colors/flavours!), or nori as "sprinkles". Nori can be cut into really thing slices, and then chopped to make rectangular sprinkles.
More vegetables and fruit: Slices of veggies can be cut up to look like flowers, etc (Like cucumbers or thinly sliced carrots!)
Pickled Ginger: Cut into shapes, or drape to form "roses". Pickled ginger roses with piped wasabi leaves would be super cute!
Sashimi can also be thinly sliced and formed into roses.
Nori shapes: Nori is easily cut into shapes.. hearts, flowers, geometric shapes... have some fun with it! To adhere designs to the cake, damped one side of the nori shape slightly with water, and just stick it to the cake.
To serve, slice with a VERY clean, very sharp knife - I rinse with cold water between each slice. Serve with soy sauce, and eat with a fork and knife.
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