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Andrea Shreiner: Sushi and Local Ingredients

July 5, 2016 - Radio Kitchen - Andrea Shreiner:  sushi and local ingredients

What started off as a quirky fad some thirty or so years ago has become a mainstay of how we eat here in Maryland.  Sushi, that captivating cuisine of rice, raw fish and fresh ingredients is here to stay.  We were happy to welcome back the Godmother of Baltimore sushi, her good friend Andrea Shreiner and her buddy, the Godfather of Sushi, Sushi Ed Heinz.

Back in the early 80's a monster snowstorm left Ed with a refrigerator of ingredients intended for a home-made Japanese dinner.  Even after he managed to feed a small handful of nearby friends who waded through thigh-high drifts, Ed had lots of stuff left over.  So armed with a mimeographed Japanese cookbook run off by a Seattle Baptist church, he began experimenting with sushi recipes.

As Ed and Andrea will vigorously assert, sushi refers only to the vinegar flavored rice.  The raw fish is referred to as "sashimi"... so when folks refer to "sashimi grade tuna" you know what they are talking about.

From the get-go Ed relied heavily on local produce and seafood.  Establishing himself at the John Stevens pub in Fells Point (right next to the back door and the pool table) he took on Andrea as an accidental disciple. 

Together they began to formulate an approach to sushi that stayed true to its Japanese rules, but still managed to appeal to the somewhat unadventurous American palate. 

And so California Roll and Baltimore Roll came about, bolstered by a few more exotic selections.  The years came and went and Sushi Ed and Andrea kept on cranking out the dishes, never curbing their curiosity and inventiveness.

Here is a basic recipe for preparing sushi rice.

                                       Sushi Rice

  • 2 cups sushi or short grain rice
  • 2 cups water, plus more to rinse the rice
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar     
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs kosher salt

1.  Place the rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water.  With your hand, swirl the rice, and strain the water off.  Repeat until the water is clear.

2.  Place the rice in a saucepan, and bring to a boil, uncovered.  Once it boils, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover the saucepan.  Cook for about 15 minutes, then let it stand, still covered for another 10 minutes.

3.  In a small sauce pan, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt and heat until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

4.  Transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl, and add in the vinegar mixture, stirring thoroughly.  Allow the rice to cool to room temperature before using.  

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.