Hunan Wok Sushi Restaurant Review

by Julie
(Lake Isabella, CA, U.S.A.)

The Hunan Wok is located in Lake Isabella, California.

For such a small town, it’s amazing that we even have a sushi place, and the fact that it’s actually good makes it that much more incredible.

They don’t offer a whole lot of varieties, but it’s very authentic and tasty. The people are friendly and the atmosphere is very comfortable. Wonderfully authentic Asian decor gives the place a different kind of shine. And the prices are definitely affordable! I recommend the California Rolls!

How to Use Chopsticks

Learning how to use chopsticks takes practice, practice, practice! In Japan they are called “hashi”.

For this lesson, I suggest that you buy a pair of wooden chopsticks. I absolutely hate the lacquered or plastic ones. They are slippery and next to impossible to eat with.

1. Carefully split your chopsticks apart at the top (if you’re using the disposable kind)
2. Rest one chopstick in the hollow between your thumb and index finger and support it with your ring finger.
3. Use the tips of your thumb, index and middle fingers to hold the other chopstick.
4. Manipulate the tip of one chopstick against the tip of the other one that always remains stationary in the hollow between you thumb and index finger.

Practice makes perfect. Don’t worry at first if you drop your sushi. Its alright to eat it with your fingers.

Types of Chopsticks

Traditional chopsticks in Japan are made from either cedar or bamboo. Modern ones are fashioned out of pine, willow, bamboo or Japanese cypress. Chopsticks for eating –

Shojin – These are crafted from Japanes cypress.

Rikyu – Made of cedar and pointed at both ends. Use one end for your meat and the other for seafood.

Disposable – These are crafted from Japanese cypress. This type is joined at the top. If there are any splinters when you split the apart, carefully rub the two sticks together. Just don’t do this in front of the sushi chef! Its considered bad manners.

Cooking Chopsticks These are about twice as long as regular ones and are pointed at the end. Handy tip – Wet the chopsticks before use. This will prevent the wood from absorbing any of the flavours in your pot.

How to make sushi

Okay! You’re here because you want to learn how to make sushi, but you’re feeling a little nervous.

Check out this video I recently posted on how to make an inside-out roll or yukiwa-maki. The most popular of these is the California Roll.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years (and gathered from my friend Andre who lived and rolled sushi in Japan).

Take it Easy!

Trust me when I tell you that your first attempt at rolling sushi is going to be far from perfect.

My first attempt at making a kappa-maki (cucumber roll) was a very tasty disaster. I stuffed far too much rice onto the nori which caused it to split when rolled.

The point is to have fun and practice, practice, practice!
Raw Seafood Not Required

If you feel nervous about working with raw fish at home and prefer to leave this aspect of making sushi to the experts – don’t worry!

For myself, I make good use of fresh vegetables, cooked shrimp and “fake” crab meat.

Keep it Moist

Sticky rice is much like burrs in a briar patch. I’ve found it on the bottom of my socks, stuck behind my ears, and even on my poor cat’s tail.

When handling your sushi rice always keep your hands moist (not dripping wet). As well make sure you moisten utensils like your sushi knife.

Don’t Overstuff

I’m not talking about overstuffing yourself on sushi rolls. Spread your rice evenly over your nori and avoid the temptation to use too much rice.

If you do, the rice will split the seaweed and may come squirting out the ends.

How to Make Sushi Rice – The Video

Its easy to learn how to make sushi rice. All you require is some patience and practice.

If you’re having problems viewing this video please download the latest version of “Flash” from Adobe.com.

If you’d prefer to view printed instructions visit the following two links. The first shows you how to select and properly cook your rice.

The second link shows you how to prepare the vinegar seasoning and how to properly mix and cool your rice.

How to Cook Sushi Rice

How to Season Your Rice

How to Eat Sushi

Relax! Learning how to eat sushi at home or in a local sushi bar isn’t all that difficult. Just follow these simple guidelines.

Dip Your Fish in the Soy Sauce

Always dip your fish and not the rice in to the soy sauce. I discovered the reason for this after most of the rice from my ebi (shrimp)nigiri ended up floating in my dish. Also, the rice will suck up too much of the soy sauce and hide the wonderful taste of the sushi vinegar used to season the rice.

Take it easy with the soy sauce!

I just don’t get those folks who soak everything in soy sauce. What’s the point of eating sushi or sashimi if you can’t enjoy their subtle flavours.

Keep the Wasabi in its place

I see people mixing wasabi in their soy sauce all the time. There was a time when I thought this is how it was done. Nope! If you want to kick it up a notch, ask the sushi chef to add a bit more wasabi to your sushi.

Eat Sushi with Your Fingers

It is not bad manners to eat sushi with your fingers. It is meant to be eaten this way (usually 1 or 2 bites at the most). Make sure to use chopsticks for sashimi. Check out my guide to using chopsticks:

How to Use Chopsticks

Toss the Spoon

The next time your bowl of miso soup arrives, eat it the Japanese way – without a spoon. Cup the bowl in both hands and slowly sip the liquid out. Use a pair of chopsticks to fish out those tasty bits of wakame seaweed or tofu.

Don’t Rub Your Chopsticks

I used to think it was kind of hip to rub my wooden chopsticks together, especially when they were full of splinters. Turns out that this is a show bad manners. If you feel compelled to rub your chopsticks, do it out-of-sight – maybe under the table!

Don’t Play With Your Chopsticks

I don’t think I need to tell you not to stick a pair of chopsticks in your mouth and pretend you’re a walrus. But, did you know that sticking them upright in a bowl of rice is definitely a no go! This action mimics a Japanese funeral rite.

Thats it! Now you know how to eat sushi!

How To Order From The Sushi Bar

If you’re like me, sitting at the sushi bar can be a scary experience. I prefer to stay hidden at my table. However, it is well worth the effort . Click here to learn how you can approach the sushi bar with confidence! Ordering From The Sushi Bar

Naked Sushi

If you’re thinking about trying “naked sushi” you may want to read the following:

All About Naked Sushi

Put your left-over sushi rice to good use with this green tea recipe

When making sushi at home you’ll sometimes end up with leftover sushi rice. It’s a shame to let it go to waste.

The following green tea recipe is easy to prepare and makes a delicious snack. Actually, in Japan it is call “ochazuke”, which means leftover rice with green tea.

Ochazuke or Green Tea Recipe

1. Prepare green tea. I like to use Sencha leafs as opposed to a powder. You can also substitute dashi stock for more of a seafood flavour.

2. Heat your leftover sushi rice in the microwave and place it in a small soup bowl.

3. Pour the steeped green tea over the rice.

4. Add your favourite toppings. Use your imagination. My suggestions include:

Shredded nori (seaweed)

toasted sesame seeds

scallions

bonito flakes

chunks of white fish or cod

strands of egg (just crack an egg and slowly dribble it into your soup)

Instant ochazuke is available, but I prefer to make it fresh, thereby avoiding msg and the overuse of salt. Give my green tea recipe a try and let Sushi Guy know what you think. Its really great to have on a cold winter night. Enjoy!

Fruit Sushi Recipe – Kids Will Love This One!

Getting your kids to eat sushi is probably almost as easy as trying to get them to eat spinach. The following recipe might just do the trick.

Also known as “frushi”, these kinds of rolls are made with fresh fruit and make for a dessert that is out of the ordinary.

Any fruit is fine – fresh strawberries, mango slices, bananas, oranges slices and even peaches. The secret ingredient in this sushi recipe is coconut milk.

Coconut milk, usually sold in cans, can be found at any Asian grocery store. If you don’t have access to this type of store, try your local supermarket or Amazon. Unlike regular milk, coconut milk is kind of thick and very sweet. It’s not something you want to drink straight up.

This fruit sushi recipe uses light coconut milk.

Wash your rice

This may seem like a chore, but it is necessary to remove talc and starch.

•    Carefully measure 1 cup of raw short grain rice.
•    Wash the rice in a large bowl of cold water. Gently rub the grains together with your fingers. The water in your bowl will quickly turn a milky colour.
•    Tip your bowl to drain off the cloudy water.
•    Fill your bowl with fresh water and repeat the process above until the water is almost clear.
•    Place the rice in a sieve and let it drain for about an hour.

How to cook the rice

1.    Place 1 cup of washed rice into a heavy saucepan
2.    Add 1 1/4 cups of water
3.    Make sure to put on a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil on high.
4.    Never remove the lid!
5.    Turn heat to low and let your rice simmer for 15 minutes
6.    Remove pot from heat.
7.    Lift the lid and stretch a tea towel over the pot. Replace the lid and let the rice finish steaming for another 15 minutes.

If you want to simplify the process I highly recommend that you buy a rice cooker. It’s almost a fool-proof way to get perfect sushi rice every time.

Mix the rice with 1/4 cup of light coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Make sure you mix it well and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Moisten your hands with a little bit of water to prevent the sushi rice from sticking to you. Shape the rice into about 20 round balls. Once this is done, form each one into an oval shape.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place your completed masterpieces onto the tray.

Top each oval of rice with orange slices and strawberries. Or, as I mentioned above, let your imagination go wild and use any type of fruit you prefer.

Place the cookie sheet in the fridge to let everything chill. Watch these yummy pieces of rice disappear when you serve them for dessert! Who knows, you might even be able to get you kids to step up to some real sushi!

Edamame as a Sushi Appetizer

Edamame are Japanese soybeans in their pods. They make a great dish to go a long with your homemade sushi. You can also eat them as a healthy snack.

I got hooked on these little soybeans about a year ago. Trust me when I tell you that they are highly addictive! Of course, you’ve also heard me say that about sushi.

Your favourite sushi restaurant will probably charge you a hefty buck for a bowl of these appetizers. In my city, they typically go for about $5.00 an order.

These tasty beans are not quite exotic as they once were and you can probably find them in the frozen food section of your favourite Asian supermarket.

Our local Costco now sells

These soybeans kind of remind me of peas in the pod. However, they are a paler green and have an almost buttery taste as opposed to the sweet taste of green peas. Also, the outter pod has little hair-like fibres.

Cooking these tasty beans is not difficult. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in your pods. Let them cook for about one to two minutes. Don’t overcook them!

Drain and place in a bowl. I always sprinkle mine with a bit of sea salt. Yummy! I always serve these tasty treats with my sushi recipes.

How to make dashi

Dashi is used in a variety of Japanese dishes including my favourite – miso soup. Fortunately, its not that difficult to make. Just follow these easy instructions.

Ingredients

Piece of kombu (5 x 2 inches)

Packet of bonito flakes (about 30 grams)

3 1/2 cups of water

Method

Clean the kombu – With a slightly damp cloth remove any dirt from the kelp. Don’t wash off the white powder. It contains most of the delicate flavour.

Place 3 1/2 cups of water in a medium sauce pan and cook the kombu over medium heat. When the water just starts to bubble, remove the kombu.

Add the bonito flakes to the boiling water for about a minute.

Remove the sauce pan from the heat and wait for the flakes to sink to the bottom.

Stretch a piece of cheese clother over a sieve. Pour the liquid and bonito flakes over it to strain.

That’s it! You now have the perfect dashi to use in your favourie miso soup recipe.

Crabmeat and Avocado Pressed Sushi with Wasabi Mayonnaise

These dressy-looking little pieces of easy-to-do, four-ingredient pressed sushi are perfect appetizers for a cocktail party, wedding shower, or anyother dressy occasion.

We hear from beginners all the time how easy it is to make pressed sushi.

You can’t mess up the shape because the mold does that work for you.

Special sushi tools: Sushi mold that makes 5 pieces  Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus 11⁄2 hours to prepare the sushi rice

Yield: 20 pieces

4 cups prepared sushi rice (see Chapter 5)

1⁄4 cup Wasabi Mayonnaise (see thefollowing recipe)

1 large avocado or 2 smaller avocados,firm but ripe, thinly sliced lengthwise

4 ounces cooked, shredded crabmeat, or 4 ounces shredded kani kama (imitationcrabmeat)

Garnishes: cilantro leaves, thin roundslices of jalapeño pepper, lemon wedges

Method

1. Wipe all three parts of the sushi mold with a damp towel. Using damp fingertips, pick up and spread about 1⁄2 cup (about 3 ounces) of the sushi rice evenly across the bottom of the mold. Press down with the lid (referto Figure 6-9 in Chapter 6).

2. Remove the lid and wipe it off with a damp towel. Dab one-eighth of the Wasabi Mayonnaise on the rice and then top the seasoned rice with an even layer of the avocado, dark green edges facing out. Spread another 1⁄2 cup of the sushi rice evenly over the avocados. Press down with the lid.

3. Dab another one-eighth of the Wasabi Mayonnaise on the rice. Finish the mold with one-fourth of the shredded crabmeat or kani kama. Press down with the lid a final time.

4. Remove the lid. Using the knife guides on the mold, partially slice the sushi into 5 pieces, wiping your knife on a damp paper towel before each slice to prevent tearing the slices apart.

5. Unmold the sushi by pressing down with the lid while pulling up on its sides. Finish slicing the sushi pieces apart, again wiping your knife on a damp paper towel before each slice. Top each piece of sushi with a cilantro leaf or a thin round slice of jalapeño pepper. Make 3 more pressed sushi the same way. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Vary It! Alternate the fillings, making two of the pressed sushi with crabmeat on top and two with avocado on top. Tip: Lining the mold with plastic wrap makes removing the pressed sushi easier for some people.

Wasabi Mayonnaise

Yield: 1⁄4 cup

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon wasabi paste, or to taste (see Chapter 3)

Stir the mayonnaise and wasabi paste together until well blended. Use right away or refrigerate several hours until needed.

Per piece: Calories 92 (From Fat 35); Fat 4g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 7mg; Sodium 76mg;Carbohydrate 12g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 2g.

“Excerpt from Sushi for Dummies by Judi Strada  and Mineko Takane Moreno, provided with permission by John Wiley & Sons. Available wherever books are sold.”