When I was in Ethiopia for two months, I re-read the Harry Potter books to get that warm, cosy feeling of being somewhere familiar.
Everything around me was completely different to anything I was used to.
The language was different, mini buses that fit more people than they should were different and the delicious injera bread ripped up and dipped into fragrant spiced lentils was different.
I loved soaking up every new experience, it was a new world that I felt was so far removed from the one I usually lived in. But every now and again you just needed a little hint of home.
So I read Harry Potter again, from the start. It made me feel connected to something I understood again, reminded me of conversations I’d had with friends and the pure joy I JK Rowling’s stories always sparked.
Last week I had a similar urge to connect with something that purely felt familiar. So I made sushi.
I cut up the carrot, cucumber, avocado and capsicum into matchsticks. Cooked some rice and baked the tofu.
Apparently smell is the sense that is most closely linked to memory, but making and eating food must not be very far off.
Filling those rolls and sealing them up took me back to Sunday nights in the Wurm household where we’d all pitch in to make family dinner.
It took me back to nights spent with friends where we’d make sushi from scratch, talking over our lives with a glass of wine in one hand and a roll covered in soy sauce and wasabi in the other.
It’s strange to see the things become sentimental when you’re far away from home and I wouldn’t have guessed sushi would be one of them.
But no matter how far away you are, there are always things that will take you right back to the place you feel most safe and secure.
It gives you confidence to keep pushing on in a new town with new people and even more habits to be made that might one day be repeated to take you back to the same moment.
INGREDIENTS serves 2
- 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
- Third of a cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- Quarter of a capcsium, cut into matchsticks
- Half an avocado, sliced into 1cm pieces
- Third of a block of tofu
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 nori sheets
- 1.5 cups white rice
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- Soy sauce and wasabi to serve
- Cut the tofu into 1cm square strips, place on a baking tray and sprinkle with the soy sauce. Mush it around in your hands so everything is covered then bake in a 180C oven for 20 minutes.
- Chuck the rice in a rice cooker with double the amount of water to rice, set to cook and let it do its thing. When it’s cooked, splash in the rice wine vinegar and stir.
- When all the veggies are cut and the other elements are cooked, it’s ready to assemble.
- Place a nori sheet shiny side down on a sushi mat. Press down some rice to cover about three quarters of the of the sheet, leaving the top quarter (the quarter furthest from you) bare.
- In a row about two centimetres from the bottom edge of the sheet, lay down each of the vegetables and tofu.
- Now it’s time to roll, Wet the non-rice end of the nori sheet. Then grab the bottom end of the mat and pull confidently over all the veggies and tofu, squeezing it all in place into a roll shape using the mat.
- Now for a second roll, twist the mat over again and squeeze really firmly. you should have gotten to the end of the rice now, so just roll the last bit over the wet nori to hold it in place. Give it all one big squeeze again for good measure.
- Then just repeat with the remaining rolls. I find 1.5 cups of dry rice is enough for two people, so you can just multiply it out for more people and just cut more veggies as you need them.
- Serve with a generous amount of soy sauce and wasabi, if your sinuses need a bit of clearing out.