Adam Liaw's sushi "tacos" with avocado, and coffee jelly with hazelnut cream
I make Japanese food for my family more than any other cuisine. Not just because we like it. Not just because we have a cultural connection. And not just because it's quite good for you, either. I make Japanese food at home because it's fast and easy. The most common mistakes are over complicating it and worrying too much about authenticity. We roll pieces of tuna in sesame seeds and fry them – something I've never seen in Japan. We mix wasabi with avocado and lemon juice. I've never seen that in Japan, either. We try to make elaborate sushi rolls using bamboo mats even though Japanese families almost never roll sushi at home!
If you want to know how a real Japanese family eats sushi, imagine the simplicity of taco night. All you need is raw fish from your fishmonger (they'll slice it for you), rice, nori and raw vegetables. Just fold everything up in a piece of nori like a taco and pop it in your mouth. Add a simple jelly for dessert and it's a complete meal.
Sushi "tacos" with avocado and wasabi
This is temakizushi, or hand-rolled sushi. Just choose your favourite fillings and wrap them in nori. What could be easier?
• 1 cup uncooked sushi rice
• ¼ tsp salt
• ½ tsp sugar
• 2 tbsp rice vinegar
• 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
• 500g sashimi-quality fish (tuna, salmon and kingfish are good choices, or you can buy pre-cut sashimi from your fishmonger)
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 6 nori sheets, cut into quarters (square), or halves (rectangles)
• 2 avocados, sliced
• 1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled in strips and cut into batons
• Japanese pickled ginger, to serve (optional)
• 1 tsp wasabi paste
Wash the rice and place in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water to about 2cm above the level of the rice. Bring the water to a boil and simmer until the expanding rice reaches the water surface, then cover and reduce the heat to very low.
Allow the rice to steam for 12 minutes, then remove from the heat and stand, still covered, for a further 5 minutes. Stir the salt and sugar into the rice vinegar. Uncover the rice and transfer to a wide bowl or tray. Add the sesame seeds, then add the vinegar mixture a little at a time while stirring the rice with a spatula using a cutting motion. Allow the rice to cool to room temperature.
Cut the fish into thin slices, if you're doing it yourself rather than using pre-cut fish, and toss in the soy sauce. To serve, place the fish, nori, sliced avocado, cucumber, ginger and wasabi on a large platter. Serve the rice in a bowl. Each person takes a piece of nori, tops it with a spoonful of rice, adds their favourite vegetables and condiments and a bit of fish, then folds it in half like a taco to eat.
Adam's tip Cutting the nori sheets in half allows you to roll big cones of sushi and is more traditional, but I prefer to cut them into quarters. It saves on rolling and uses less rice per piece.
Coffee jelly with hazelnut cream
Coffee Jelly with Hazelnut Cream Photography. Photo: William Meppem
Coffee jelly is one of the easiest and most delicious desserts you can make. It's just instant coffee, sugar, water and gelatine, but adding bikkies, ice-cream and a touch of hazelnut cream takes it from simple to amazing.
• 1 litre water
• 18g powdered gelatine
• ½ cup instant coffee powder (use decaf, if you prefer)
• 1 cup caster sugar, plus 2 tsp for the cream
• 300ml thickened cream
• 3 tbsp Frangelico, or other hazelnut liqueur
• 6 small scoops of vanilla ice-cream, to serve
• 6 Tim Tams, or chocolate wafers
Add a cup of water to the powdered gelatine in a small bowl and allow it to stand for about 10 minutes. Bring the remainder of the water to a low simmer and add the coffee and sugar, whisking to dissolve the sugar.
Add the gelatine mix to the coffee liquid and whisk well to ensure that all the gelatine crystals are dissolved (you may need to rinse the small bowl with the hot liquid a few times). Pour the coffee liquid into 6 serving glasses, leaving room at the top to add the ice-cream and whipped cream when serving. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the jelly is set.
For the hazelnut cream, whip the cream with 2 tsp of caster sugar until firm peaks form. Gently fold through the Frangelico and transfer to a piping bag with a fluted nozzle. Alternatively, you can just dollop the cream on top of the jellies later. Top each jelly with a small scoop of ice cream, pipe over a swirl of hazelnut cream and add a Tim Tam or chocolate wafer.