Is a trip to Destin or 30A complete without stopping at AJ's Destin or AJ's Grayton Beach? Absolutely not. You may find yourself there for the boozy cocktails and people watching, but you can't leave without trying the sushi. So when the AJ's team approached us about creating a namesake roll to add to their sushi menu, our response was: hell yes, as long as we can be a part of the recipe testing.
If you watched our Facebook Live video, you know we (mostly Corey) tested a lot of rolls before landing on the perfect combination of flavors. Corey and Sean went out to AJ's Grayton to meet with sushi chef Daniel to create what we think is the perfect combination of flavors and textures. It's creamy, it's crunchy, it's spicy and sweet. The BOTE Roll is all the things you want in a bite of sushi.
We're lucky enough to live near both AJ's locations and can hit them up whenever the craving strikes, but if your vacation to Destin or 30A is still months away we want to help you bring The BOTE Roll home.
MAKING SUSHI AT HOME
Don't be intimidated--we all know practice makes perfect, and this statement is strikingly true when it comes to sushi making. The first time you roll sushi it's going to be a little lumpy and uneven. You might have oblong pieces if you put too much pressure on it while slicing or your knife isn't sharp enough. And honestly, it might even fall apart. The good news is, one roll of sushi requires very little ingredients so go ahead and prep what you have on hand and make it a few times in one sitting to work on perfecting the craft. And if it really does all fall apart? Go for the unstructured wabi sabi approach and form it into a ball, giving new meaning to ugly delicious.
To make sushi at home, it helps to have the right tools and a few YouTube tutorials under your belt. You might even channel your inner sushi chef by streaming Jiro Dreams of Sushi before you start your sushi making adventure.
SUSHI MAKING TOOLS
Just like all food tastes better with fresh, local ingredients, making sushi is a hell of a lot easier when you have the right tools. Here's what you need to make The BOTE Roll at home.
A handheld kitchen torch - Is it just us or does everyone love fire? The kitchen torch allows you to quickly torch the pineapple for a deeper flavor, but an open flame on a gas stovetop will do if you're in a pinch. It's also great to have around for making indoor s'mores and at-home crème brûlée on the fly. Have we mentioned we love having a handheld torch around?
A bamboo sushi rolling mat - Sushi rolling mats are inexpensive and take up very little space when stored. However, if you want to hack the sushi-making process you can attempt the towel method courtesy of Minimalist Baker.
A really sharp knife - Or, as Corey describes it, a machete. If you have a really nice knife set at home but you've never invested in a knife sharpener, get the knife sharpener. If you have a cheap knife set, also get a knife sharpener. All you need is a very sharp knife here--it doesn't have to be sexy, just sharp. Please know you will completely butcher your sushi roll if you try to use a chef's knife that hasn't been sharpened in a decade. You'll also find you love your knives again after you sharpen them. PSA: sharpen your knives, folks.
Now that you know how much we love handheld torches and sharp knives, let's move onto the main event: making sushi.
HOW TO MAKE THE BOTE (SUSHI) ROLL AT HOME
Let's set the stage here that we aren't professional sushi chefs, but we do have a few at-home sushi connoisseurs in our midst who gave us the rundown on how to make sushi at home. If you're a novice sushi maker, check out this detailed sushi-making tutorial by Browneyed Baker for a step-by-step process. We're going to keep it pretty high level for those of you who have shorter attention spans and a special degree of confidence in your sushi making abilities.
"MAKING YOUR OWN SUSHI AT HOME IS JUST AS FUN AS IT IS REWARDING! IT'S A GREAT ACTIVITY TO DO AS A DATE NIGHT OR WITH THE FAMILY. WE LIKE TO HAVE LOTS OF DIFFERENT INGREDIENTS SO EVERYONE CAN CREATE SOMETHING THEY WILL ENJOY."
- Skye Bailey, BOTE Brand Manager
Before we get started, you may think that you can't find these ingredients--like nori, crispy wonton strips, and eel sauce--near you. However, you'd be surprised at what you can find in the ethnic foods aisle of your grocery store or at an Asian market. Also, if you haven't watched our Facebook Live yet, give it a watch before moving on to the method.
|Nori (sheets of seaweed)|
|Prepared and cooled sushi rice|
|Sushi grade yellowfin tuna|
|Crispy wonton strips|
|Marie Sharp's Hot Carrot Habanero Sauce, or your favorite hot sauce|
|Optional: wasabi, pickled ginger, soy sauce|
Step 1: Torch the pineapple by hitting a large slice of pineapple with the flame until it starts to brown and takes on black streaks. Set aside to cool.
Step 2: Thinly slice the yellowfin tuna with a (clean) samurai sword or a very sharp knife into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
Step 3: The next step is the 'mise en place', which means setting up all of your prepared ingredients so they're within reach and ready to assemble. In addition to setting up all of the ingredients, we recommend keeping a small bowl of water nearby as keeping your fingers moist will help the ingredients stick to nori and rice rather than your hands. If you have plastic wrap around, go ahead and cover the mat in the wrap to create a barrier so the rice doesn't stick.
Step 4: Place a piece of nori on your bamboo mat, then take about a handful of sushi rice and pat the rice down in a very thin, even layer to cover the nori until you've filled all gaps and it reaches the edges. Flip it over so the nori is on top, with the long side facing you.
Step 5: From here, you're going to layer a couple of the ingredients down the middle, following the long side of the nori. First, place the sliced tuna on the nori, layering the slices from left to right about slightly offset from the middle of the nori. Sprinkle the crispy wontons alongside the tuna for a little crunch.
Step 6: Roll the sushi and remove the bamboo mat.
"TO ROLL, LIFT UP THE BAMBOO MAT NEAR YOU AND FOLD IT OVER THE FILLINGS. AS YOU ROLL AND THE BAMBOO MAT REACHES TO THE SURFACE OF THE NORI, PULL BACK THE EDGE OF THE BAMBOO MAT (SO THAT YOU DO NOT ROLL IT INTO THE SUSHI) AND CONTINUE TO ROLL TIGHTLY UNTIL THE WHOLE ROLL IS COMPLETED, LEAVING THE SEAM DOWN THE ROLL. NOW PLACE THE BAMBOO MAT OVER THE ROLL, HOLD IT SECURELY TO FIRM IT UP, AND SQUARE OFF THE EDGES SLIGHTLY. UNROLL THE ROLLING MAT."
- Browneyed Baker, How To Make Sushi At Home
Step 7: Next, slice the avocado into thin slices and lay across the top of the rolled sushi. Thinly slice the cooled, torched pineapple and place it on top of the avocado.
Step 8: You're almost done! Slice the rolled sushi into bite size pieces, about one inch wide. Top each slice with a touch of your favorite hot sauce, then drizzle eel sauce across all the slices. Serve with a little wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce.
Step 9: Eat it so fast you don't share with anyone else, then repeat steps one through eight.
BOTE LIVE // The BOTE Roll
WITH COREY COOPER