A few weeks ago Youtuber Gary Pang (a.k.a. PangOfHunger) posted a video of himself sampling sushi from a local grocery store in the middle of landlocked Pennsylvania. This was all the inspiration required to reach out and work collaboratively with Gary on a new idea. The question posed: “What if we attempt to smoke sushi rice in a Big Green Egg?” So began this project. Gary was able to secure fresh sushi grade Tuna, Salmon and Yellowtail from Flushing, Queens over the Thanksgiving break.
Of course this meant we were on the clock to produce this video as the window was closing on the fresh fish. Expiration dates and raw fish can be a lethal combination. The Monday after Thanksgiving was spent coming up with the method below. In addition to consulting many sushi and rice recipes I had the distinct pleasure of getting super valuable tips and ideas from my foodie friend Christine. Christine is no stranger to the preparation of rice and stressed the importance of things like ratios, balance and how to properly season the rice. She is also a fan of Big Green Eggs and smoked foods in general and felt vested in the success of the project. It was Christine’s idea to smoke the dry rice in the Big Green Egg prior to cooking in a cast iron dutch oven. This turned out to be the single biggest difference maker between this rice preparation method and all other stove top / pressure cooker methods out there. If you happen to run into Christine on Twitter or Instagram be sure to thank her for her valuable input! I have a feeling this will not be the last time we lean on Christine to help us through a preparation method.
So a big shout out to PangOfHunger and Christine in making this sushi video possible and as delicious as it was. It will be up to you, PangOfHunger, to determine if our sushi holds a candle to the grocery store variety.
Now on with the method:
- 2 cups of sushi rice
- 4 cups of water
- 3 Tbl. rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
Prepare the Grill
For this method we will look to smoke the dry rice prior to cooking. Configure the Big Green Egg for an indirect smoke placing the platesetter legs up. Allow the grill to come up to 250 degrees. Add apple chips for smoking.
Rinse the Rice and Prepare for Smoking
Rinse the rice in a strainer under a steady stream of cold water until the water comes out clear. This will remove access starches and kick start a bit of the water absorption process in the rice. Spread the rice out in a cast iron dutch oven uncovered and place in the grill on spacers* atop the platesetter. Allow to smoke for one hour – stirring occasionally. The rice will begin to turn a faint yellowish tint over time as it absorbs the smoke flavor.
Note: * A spacer can be anything that keeps the pan from touching the platesetter directly. If using a dutch oven with legs spacers are not required. If using a cast iron pan – 2 rolled up pieces of aluminum foil molded into overlapping circles can be used as spacers.
Prepare the Water
When dealing with rice and water ratio is key. In a typical recipe the water to rice ratio is closer to 1.25:1. For this method we are not covering the dutch oven during the cooking process which, in turn, translates into greater evaporation. To account for this we call for a larger water to rice ratio: 2:1.
Once the rice has been smoking for an hour bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan on the stove top. Season the water with a pinch of salt.
Cook the Rice
Take the boiling water and pour it into the dutch oven with the rice. Do not stir. Performing this step without stirring will require patience and understanding as muscle motor memory kicks in and you find yourself reaching for the spoon. The rice will absorb the water on its own terms and will not require outside influences to disrupt that process. Close the lid of the Big Green Egg and walk away.
Allow to cook for 20 minutes without stirring. After 20 minutes pull the rice from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes more.
Prepare the Rice Vinegar
In a small saucepan on the stovetop dissolve the sugar and salt in the rice vinegar until clear.
Add the vinegar solution to the rice and mix. The rice will appear overly sticky at first but it will continue to absorb and become more manageable.
Work with the sushi on a wooden platform. Form a sushi pillow in your hands and lay the sushi grade fish on top. Check out this handy guide with pictures to see how it’s done.
We are huge fans of soy sauce and wasabi – but be careful! These are delicate flavors that dance well with each other in a subtle nature. Go easy on the wasabi and soy sauce to get the full experience of sushi atop smoked rice.