Dreaming of sushi (or not so much)

Today’s rant is brought to you by Food ‘n Flix and this month’s feature, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. (Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla is hosting this month.   You can read her announcement post HERE.)


I do not dream of sushi.   In fact, I have never tried it.   I can’t get past the fact that we live in a landlocked state, far away from the Pacific coast.     If I am going to eat raw fish, I want it to be the freshest ever.   Enough said.    Until I book a trip to Japan, I will not eat it (Sam, I am).

I can talk all I want about being open-minded when it comes to food, but I really am not that adventurous.   I am getting better and we did eat octopus for the first time at our Northern Italian cooking class.

I ate ceviche for the first time (and loved it) at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican dive here in town.


Not so much.

Then I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi.    JiorI was taken aback by the artistry that is pure sushi.    The title of this film can be taken quite literally, Jiro DOES dream of sushi and is obsessed to improve upon it.

Watching this octogenarian who has dedicated his life to the art of  this one facet of Japanese cuisine caused me to pause.   This art is his passion and his life’s work.   He knows nothing else and I think he himself is a bit taken aback by the stir he has caused in the culinary world.    Simply put, all he is doing is buying the very best ingredients, preparing them to the best of his ability, and continuing to improve and grow.      He is doing what he loves.

Jiro rejuvenated me.      He has prompted me to try Sushi as soon as I am able.   (That and my eleven-year-old goddaughter who told me I was being ridiculous.    “Sushi is delicious, Aunt Debra.   You must get some!”)

For this post, I seriously thought about taking a sushi class to learn how to make this intriguing cuisine, but I ran out of time.

I doubt we will ever make it to Japan let alone dine at Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo.   Besides, it would be difficult for us to rationalize $360 a piece for a meal—that is the beginning rate of perfect sushi at Jiro’s restaurant.

Instead, I went to one of my forgotten cookbooks, Asia:  The Beautiful Cookbook, flipped to the Japanese section and picked a common Japanese street food:   Yakitori (grilled chicken).

Here is my rendition.

Yakitori (Grilled Chicken)
Based on recipe from Asia:  The Beautiful Cookbook

1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, chopped into large cubes
1 lb. bonless chicken thighs, chopped into large cubes
1 farm fresh egg
2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
1 t. ginger paste (I used Gourmet Garden.)
1 t. fine sea salt
1 T. sugar

Place all ingredients in a food processor.IMAG3767

Process until very smooth.IMAG3769

Wet hands, and form into 1 1/2 inch meatballs.    Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Make the Yakitori sauce.


Yakitori Sauce
Based on recipe from Asia:  The Beautiful Cookbook

1/2 c. sake
3/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. mirin*
2 T. sugar

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan.  Stir and bring to a boil, then remove immediately from the heat.

*I could find no mirin in our town.   Instead, I turned this into a fusion sauce and used a Riesling.    It was Kungfu Girl though.  🙂IMAG3765

Yakitori Skewers

1 red bell peper, seeded and chunked
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 pkg. whole mushrooms
1 batch of Yakitori chicken meatballs (see above)

To make skewers, thread the meatballs onto bamboo skewers separated by pieces of peppers and mushrooms.   (For a more authentic dish use canned quail eggs.)

Grill the skewers over glowing coals (hopefully in an authentic hibachi like we have) until half cooked.   Brush with the yakitori sauce and return to the heat.   Continue to grill and baste with the sauce until they are done.   Do not over cook.


My meatballs flattened out while grilling. These are more like meat blobs.

(When I got home from the store I had grabbed two packages of chicken breast instead of one being thighs.   My meatballs did not have enough fat in them and did NOT stick to the skewers very well.  I ended up putting them on foil to grill.)

Certainly, this is not on the menu at Sukiyabashi Jiro.   Certainly, Jiro would not even dare to put it there.    But, it is my meager (and pedestrian) attempt to pay homage to a great Japanese master without having to make sushi (or eat it just yet).    Finally, I think even a lowly Yakatori street vendor would be embarrassed at my attempt here.    Please forgive me, Jiro and Food ‘n Flix fellow bloggers.  🙂    I will strive to do better and take Jiro’s lessons to heart:   Always do your very best.  🙂


The July flix is Monsoon Wedding  and will be hosted by Heather at Girlichef.    Please grab some popcorn, check it out, and post an inspired recipe.


P.S.   Please remember Abigail today.     I have no virtual flowers to send her today but I do have this surprise:


Yes, this is the Oscar Mayer “Weinermobile.” It drove right passed me. (I felt it was safer to take this picture from behind than try to take one of it as it passed me.  I was driving btw.)

Hope this brings a smile to you today, Abby!

29 comments to Dreaming of sushi (or not so much)

  • juanitascocina

    I eat sushi!!!! I do it!!!!

    But, I’ll eat this too. 😀

    • Really, I am a little embarrassed to post this. They were good and I plan on making them again, but this was a rushed-to-post situation. 🙂

  • Not really a fan of sushi…but these skewers look very delicious!

  • I totally get the whole “I’m not eating sushi miles away from the ocean”. However – this does not exclude you from trying sushi. It is by far one of our favorite foods. Our “sushi house” is the first place we took the kids to eat as newborns because I craved it all through pregnancy. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a wonderful movie. He makes you really think about how you are spending your time. Are you doing something you love? Come visit me and I can cry on your shoulder and we can eat sushi together. Aimee
    PS. the wiener mobile cracked up the big kids.

    • Glad they liked the Oscar Mayer car! (Can’t say weinermobile too many times or it cracks me up too much.) We are gearing up for sushi. I will hopefully have a post before the summer is over. 🙂 Hope all is well.

  • I am a bit paranoid about rare or uncooked seafood here in Indiana, too, but there are a few spots I trust. You’ll love sushi…I’m just certain. And your yakitori is pretty terrific!

  • I can’t believe I love sushi and you hadn’t tried it! My daughter’s mother-in-law makes it as well as my son-in-law and they honestly don’t put fish in it. Avocado goes in one and spam in another one. Don’t knock it till you try it – I know it’s spam but it tastes great! 🙂

  • I honestly would take this over sushi any day (don’t tell anyone I said that ! – I know it’s very cool to eat sushi) 🙂

    • I know. I have resigned to be old and unhip at this point in my life. But, sushi is on the bucket list. Thanks, Chris.

  • Thanks for cooking for Food’N’Flix this month. I know you were thrilled with your dish, but I am thrilled that you joined me. And I am tracking down that KungFu Girl riesling. Can’t pass up a name like that, can I?!?

    • You’re more than welcome. I am so glad you suggested this film. It actually is a great summer wine…good to have a chilled glass on the porch! (Your rice was inspired!)

  • I went overboard with sushi for awhile. For years I wouldn’t even try the stuff then I did, finally. Then I ate too much!! We had it several times a week so now…I am off sushi again.

    Don’t blame you for not trying it in a land locked state 🙂

  • Sushi is good – just find a good fish market. There’s sushi-grade frozen fish out there (it’s frozen at sea, so it’s actually fresher than fresh) but that can be a bit hard to track down sometimes. Anyway, good stuff – thanks.

  • I do not blame you…I am extremely particular about the fish used in any sushi that I will eat. If I ever win the lottery, I’ll take you with me on my trip to Japan ;). This chicken dish sounds super delicious, though…and uh…KungFu Girl (love it)! Jiro is utterly inspiring to me.

    And on another note, the Wiener Mobile was here in town some months back…we even went inside! 😉

    • Thanks and it is a date. Same thing here if I ever win the super jackpot! 🙂 Now you are making me think I should have chased down that wiener! 🙂

  • Ha that is so awesome that the movie convinced you to try sushi…hopefully soon. Just got to a reputable place. And I love your Yakitori! Ginger and sake…so good!

  • It’s all good! Save yourself for a good quality sushi experience someday when the fish is fresh so you can enjoy it. When I used to travel to Japan for work, I probably ate more yakitori than anything else so even if they wouldn’t be on the menu at Jiro’s place, I am sure they would be heartily enjoyed as the staff meal. 😉 Great job adapting to the ingredients that you can find. I want the KingFu Girl wine too!

    • It is great stuff in the summer, chilled and icy on the patio. Thanks, Deb. This was a fun film with lots of inspiration (culinary and otherwise).

  • I am a HUGE sushi fan, but I don’t make any raw fish sushi being a land locked girl. I do teach California roll classes and we use veggies, cream cheese, eggs, cooked shrimp and krab. Maybe you can start with that? On a stick or not the yakitori has me drooling.

  • Food Stories

    I know exactly what you mean – I’m not really champing at the bit to eat raw fish 🙁

  • […] cracked open.   Now was the time.   (I actually made Holy Basil Chicken before I posted my  Yakitori recipe from this same […]