Introducing the sushi bazooka

December 3, 2021

After a long holiday weekend focused mostly on food, I expect we’ve all had our fill of leftovers. Instead of giving you another way to repurpose turkey into a casserole or transform stuffing into muffins, I thought I would change the subject completely and introduce you to a kitchen gadget I never knew existed: the sushi bazooka.

Thanks to a recent conversation with John Zacharias, I learned about a way to make sushi rolls that allows even the most amateur of beginners to succeed. His results are seen in the photo and I’ll share his recipe later, but first, here are some hints and tips from users and reviewers of sushi bazookas. 

There are a number of these devices available at kitchen and housewares stores as well as online, ranging in price from under $10 to over $40. Some are full kits with everything you need, including a sharp knife and rice paddle, while others are more basic. It’s a good idea to check the reviews, as some brands have a reputation for unstable latches and not all types can be cleaned in a dishwasher.

To get a sense of what this looks like, consider a cookie press, a long cylinder from which you dispense a round disk. Instead of sweet cookie dough, dropping one disk at a time, you’ll release the entire tube. Unlike a cookie press, which is loaded from the top, the sushi bazooka opens along the length of the tube and each half is filled with rice, then covered with the additional veggies or seafood. After the cylinder is closed, a plunger allows you to extrude the roll.

The choice of rice is never in question when making sushi. You need to use short-grain sushi rice, which will give you the necessary degree of stickiness not found in long-grain rices such as Basmati or jasmine. Another key is the temperature of the rice – it must be cooled for at least 20 minutes after cooking in order to ensure the grains will adhere together and not disintegrate into a messy pile.

While the rice cooks and cools, use the time to slice the ingredients into long, thin pieces. John’s recipe includes tuna, salmon, shrimp, avocado, jalapeño and cucumber, but the combinations are endless, from completely vegetarian to nothing but seafood. You’ll notice he uses the salmon and tuna raw, but briefly cooks the shrimp, a conventional step unless the shrimp is sourced live.

You want the sticky rice to form a sturdy surround for the center, but you also want it to release from the inside of the bazooka tube. The solution for this is to thoroughly coat the inside of the cylinder with sesame oil. This adds flavor notes and helps the roll smoothly exit. Another option is nonstick cooking spray.

As you push the plunger to dispense the roll from the bazooka, you will be placing it onto a sheet of nori (seaweed) that is then wrapped around the roll. Some recipes omit the seaweed wrap, coating the outside of the rice roll with sesame seeds. Once it is wrapped, the entire roll should be briefly chilled and then sliced into rounds and topped with various garnishes.

Traditionally, sushi rolls are served with pickled ginger and a mixture of wasabi mustard and soy sauce for dipping. In John’s recipe, he adds spice with sriracha mayo, which you can find in the condiments aisle. His notes about using the bazooka include a warning that these sushi rolls are larger in diameter than the hand-rolled ones found at Japanese restaurants, but just as delicious.

John Zacharias’ Sushi

1 C short-grain sushi rice

1 1/2 C water

2 t sugar

1/2 t sea salt

2 T rice vinegar

2 to 3 oz frozen sockeye salmon

2 to 3  frozen sushi-grade tuna

3 frozen Argentine shrimp

1/3 cucumber

1/2 avocado

1/2 jalapeño pepper

1 T sesame oil

2 T water

3 sheets nori

sesame seeds

sriracha mayonnaise

soy sauce

Rice: Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer; drain completely. Stir rice into 1 1/2 C water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until tender and sticky, about 20 minutes. While rice cooks, whisk together sugar, salt and vinegar. Transfer cooked rice into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with seasoned vinegar. Gently fold liquid into rice by lifting and turning. Cover bowl with a towel and allow to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Filling: Remove skin from the salmon and slice into long, thin strips. Do the same with tuna. Remove shell and tail from shrimp; simmer in a little bit of water in a skillet until orange color appears; cut into halves or quarters lengthwise. Peel the cucumber and slice into long, thin pieces, discard core of seeds. Peel and slice the avocado into strips. Core and seed the pepper; cut into thin strips.

Assembly: Whisk together sesame oil and water; use a pastry brush to thoroughly cover the inside and the ramrod device of the sushi bazooka. Using a nonstick rice paddle, spread cooked rice in each half of the bazooka. Arrange seafood on top of rice on one side and vegetables on the other side. Close the bazooka and secure clips. Place nori sheets on a piece of waxed paper. Carefully push the plunger to extrude the filled rice roll onto the center of the nori sheet. Roll the nori around the roll, dampening the edges to secure. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Place sushi rolls on a platter and refrigerate for about 5 minutes. When rolls have been chilled, use a very sharp knife to cut the log into slices. Arrange cut side up on a serving platter, sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with sriracha mayonnaise. Serve with soy sauce for dipping. Yield: 27 rolls.

Another produce option

One of my sharp-eyed readers, Maureen Remedio, sent me an email after seeing my column about off-season options for fresh produce. She reminded me about Ray’s Produce and Flowers at the Brush Factory on Kings Highway in Lewes, open Friday through Sunday.

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