Until the late nineties, it was always assumed that food would arrive fully-constructed. A pie was a pie, a soup was a soup, and so on and so forth. Then molecular gastronomy happened.
Suddenly cheesecakes stopped resembling cheesecakes. Instead, ceramic tiles of ‘deconstructed cheesecake’ started being funeral-marched from kitchens. Tiny ants nests of crumbly-digestive biscuits, blobs of cream and smears of fruit. Yep – that’s right – in the midst of molecular madness, it became passé to lovingly incorporate fruit into desserts, and so fruit was reduced to a smear, which is about as funless to eat as it is to experience.
As far as I can tell, there are two reasons for ‘deconstructing’ food. The first is a tendency toward post-modern pretentiousness. An insistence that each aspect of a dish should be forensically analysed and appreciated. Forget free-flowing dinnertime conversation. There’s something controlling about a deconstructed plate, which demands diners’ attentions. It demands that they flex their intellectual muscles at every mouthful, competing for the best adjective to describe a solitary pasta sheet of a deconstructed lasagne.
The second explanation for a deconstructed dish is time-efficiency. There’s no doubt that it’s easier for a kitchen to rattle out 50 deconstructed cheesecakes, than it is to rattle out 50 perfect slices. Now, I don’t have any problem with short-cuts. In fact, I’m a big fan myself. It’s just there’s a whiff of cloak and daggers about it. Sure, take a short-cut, but call it a short-cut rather than elevating it into some pretence of post-modernism, and doubling the bill.
As a mark of consistency, the recipe I bring you today is not a ‘deconstructed sushi bowl’. Nope. This is an: ‘I can’t be bothered sushi bowl’ because, well, I couldn’t be bothered, and I’m happy to say it like it is. Rolling sushi and making maki is all very well if you have the expertise, the time or the inclination. None of which I possess. At least not this afternoon, when I wanted a quick lunch for one. If you find yourself in a similar situation, then I couldn’t recommend this sushi bowl more – that’s the thing with deconstructed stuff … it tastes pretty similar to the constructed stuff.
‘I Can’t Be Bothered’ Sushi Bowl
75g brown (sushi) rice, cooked according to instructions, and cooled
140g salmon, cut into chunks
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cucumber, halved lengthways, de-seeded and sliced
Optional garnish: sesame seeds, nori, bonito flakes
To serve: soy sauce, wasabi paste, sushi ginger
1. Spoon the rice into a bowl
2. Arrange the salmon, avocado and cucumber round the edge
3. Put the garnish in the middle.
- As a note, using the prices below, you end up with a hell of a lot of ‘sushi’ for your money.
[75g rice (25p), Salmon (£2), Avocado (£1), 1/4 cucumber (12p) = £3.37]
- Since doing this post, I’ve been informed that there is a proper name for this dish – who would’ve thought?! ‘Chirashizushi’, or ‘scattered sushi’. Every day’s a school day.
- A question I’ve been asked by a couple of people since putting this post live, is whether it’s ok to eat supermarket fish as sushi. I’ve done some research, and the answer doesn’t seem to be that straight forward. Simply answered, I ate the sushi bowl in the photo, and have survived to tell the tale.
People talk of ‘sushi grade’ fish. But from what I understand, it’s unregulated, and (cynics might suggest) a way of whacking money on the price. If you’re worried, then I would recommend tossing the salmon in a little lemon or lime juice – this will turn the sushi into ceviche – but it’s a way of gently ‘cooking’ it in acid, without compromising on the delicious, raw texture.
[Oregon State University recommend fish which has been commercially frozen first to kill parasites – check the packet, as lots of fish is ‘frozen at sea’.]