Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My daughter Sarah has been trying to get me to go to a sushi restaurant for about seven years.  She went to school in Boston and now lives in Los Angeles. Both cities have access to wonderful sashimi, but she could never convince me that you could make an entire meal out of raw fish. I always rejected her offers for dinner at the Sushi Bars.

I recently returned from a trip to Maui, HI.  Before we left I decided to do a little research about raw fish and how it is prepared.  I knew I would see plenty of it on the menus in Hawaii, and I wanted to know what to expect.  Here is what I now know.  According to The New Food Lover's Companion written by Sharon Tyler Herbst sushi is "[a] Japanese specialty based on boiled rice flavored with a sweetened rice vinegar, a mixture called sushi meshi [SOO-shee MEH-shee]." This is the rice used in making the sushi dishes. Ms. Herbst says this is "...made by tossing freshly cooked rice with a dressing made of vinegar, sugar and salt. The rice-dressing mixture is fanned during tossing to help cool the rice quickly." Sashimi [sah-SHEE-meh] according to Herbst  is "[s]liced raw fish that is served with condiments such as shredded daikon radish or gingerroot, wasabi and soy sauce." I also discovered that the most popular types of sashimi are: Maguro / tuna, Toro / fatty tuna, Ebi / prawn, Saba / mackerel,  Ika / squid and Tako  known as octopus. According to Wikipedia "[s]ashimi grade fish is caught by individual handline. As soon as the fish is landed, its brain is pierced with a sharp spike; and it is placed in slurried ice. This spiking is called Ike Jime process. The flesh contains minimal lactic acid because it died instantly so it will keep fresh on ice for about ten days, without turning white or otherwise degrading." Ike Jime may have told you more than you ever wanted to know about sashimi, so I am going to move on to preparing sushi and sashimi and enjoying every minute of it!

While in Maui we decided to try the Hali'Maile General Store.  We had read many nice reviews of the restaurant but had also heard that it could either be a hit or a miss on any given day. Unfortunately that was the case for us - a hit for me and a miss for Mike. Although Mike didn't like his entree the one thing we both absolutely adored was the Sashimi Napoleon.  It was created by Chef Bev Gannon who shares her recipe on her blog.

Sashimi Napoleon

Serves 6

3/4 lb. sashimi-grade ahi tuna
1 bunch radish sprouts
8 shiso leaves
1/4 lb. smoked salmon, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sliced pickled ginger for garnish
1 tbsp. tobiko (flying fish roe) for garnish
18 wonton skins

Tartare Base
2 tbsp. fine mayonnaise
2 tsp. Vietnamese garlic chili-sauce
2 tbsp. chopped green onion, white and green parts
2 tbsp. tobiko
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro

2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. wasabi paste
2 tbsp. ground toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp. white miso paste


Cut 1/4 lb. of tuna against the grain into 12 think slices. Finely chop the other 1/2 lb. for tartare.

To prepare crispy wontons pour oil to a depth of 1 inch in a saucepan and heat. Add wonton skins and fry, turning once for 8 to 10 seconds on each side, until light golden brown. Keep wontons flat by using tongs to uncurl. cool on paper towels.

To prepare dressing combine ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Roll tuna slices up into rose-shaped bundles. Reserving 2 tbsp. raddish sprouts, stack in the following order:
wonton skin
1/6 of the tartare mixture
shiso leaf
wonton skin
1/6 of the smoked salmon
radish sprouts
wonton skin
2 tuna rolls
Sprinkle the top of each napoleon with reserved radish sprouts, Drizzle 3 tbsp. of dressing around each plate. Garnish the plate with pickled ginger and tobiko.

At the restaurant the dressing was served in a small pourable pitcher.  The waiter told us to cut the entire appetizer into pieces, like a chopped salad, then drizzle with the dressing and share. This dish was truly memorable.

Enjoying our Sashimi Napoleon at Hali'Maile General Store

We also had a wonderful meal of sashimi at Mama's Fish House.  Mama's is know as the best restaurant on Maui. It's pricy, the service is excellent, the food is marvelous and the table views of the pacific are spectacular. 
Papa's Three Fish Sashimi

Papa's Three Fish Sashimi is made of three types of fish. One is called opakapaka ( a seasonal red snapper only found in the waters of Hawaii during the winter). The opakapaka is topped with coconut-chili and a serving of Molokai pink sea salt on the side. The salmon is served with a pineapple-pomegranate topping and a taste of big Island black sea salt. And lastly a serving of ahi tuna topped with star anise, shredded daikon and a pinch of kakui nut salt.
What I really liked about this dish is its simplicity.  The salt enhanced the flavor of the fish without overwhelming it, and I was amazed at the subtle differences in the fish and salts. I located a couple of the Hawaiian salts at William-Sonoma.


Chef Jeff Maiani of 310 Bistro
Before I left for Maui I heard that chef Jeff Maiani was going to offer a sushi class here in our little town of Columbus, IN. (Jeff was trained at the Culinary Institute of America and is the owner of Bistro 310. He is a truly creative and innovative chef who is willing to share some of his secrets and is an all over standup guy.) So I took the plunge and signed up for the class

What fun we had. We washed our hands, put on our aprons and were given a glass of wine. (Teachers would have more students if they followed this model!) Jeff taught us how to make the sushi meshi, how to remove the sinew from a large piece of ahi and then showed us how to make tartare. We then learned how to to make the sushi rolls and plate them so that people would be impressed with our new skill.

Here I am with a few of my classmates

After much eating and praise from Chef Jeff we all went away know that we could be a success with Sushi/Sashimi at home.

So the next time Sarah asks if I want to go eat Sushi I'm going to surprise her with a resounding YES!

Check Out Our Beautiful Rolls

Life is good - Enjoy!


    1. Mary, this is awesome! I love the background on sashimi. Having lived in Hawaii and lived with a sushi lover all these years, I have never gotten accustomed to it. I've tried it several times and it's just not for me. I think the sushi class would have been a blast!