Pressed Sushi with Cabbage and Japanese Ginger
The weather's been so odd lately and the last couple of days have been cool enough to have me yearning for hot sake (atsukan - at this time of year?!), but in hope that there is warmer weather to come and that appetites and the desire to slave over a stove are going to dwindle, I'm already experimenting with dishes that are refreshing and vibrant that will stimulate the taste buds and ease heat fatigue.
There is nothing like sushi.
The emphasis on the freshness and quality of ingredients, the precision of its assembly, the simple elegance of presentation: all hallmarks of Japanese cuisine encapsulated in a single dish. Sushi is both delicious and healthy, making it a favorite of food lovers everywhere. The only draw back is that a full sushi dinner at a restaurant can often be very expensive. I'm a sushi lover, but I don't want to spend a fortune, so I've come up with a super-easy and very economical version of pressed sushi that will save you a lot of money - it doesn't even use any fish!
Pressed sushi is essentially regular, sushi-chef sushi in reverse; you could even call it 'lazy-man's sushi'. The oshizushi mold is a useful thing to have hidden at the back of a kitchen cupboard, too, since it's a great way to transform seasonal vegetables into sushi treats. Here the contrastive colors of the cabbage and the myoga make for an eye-pleasing appetizer that could as easily fit in to a bento lunch box. Every morsel is a cascade of flavor. The distinctive sour of vinegar rice sublimely highlights the sweet freshness of the cabbage and delicate flavor of the myoga. If I could, I'd probably eat several uncut oshizushi cakes by myself! I jest.
Myoga trivia (mainly for my own benefit, since most Japanese readers probably know all this stuff already): Myoga will ward off evil and is thought to be an auspicious food. It is also said to be mildly anaesthetic and is thought to help keep colds at bay. If you eat too much you'll lose your memory (perhaps that's the reason I'm so absentminded...)! Myoga is also the name of the bird that helps bring the lover stars Altair and Vega together on Tanabata, the night of the Star Festival. What more reason could you want to eat it, aside from its distinctive, delicate taste?!