Sunday, March 24, 2013

How to win friends and influence people... with sushi.

Two days ago I said farewell to amazing eight people I have been fortunate enough to have worked with for the last two months. It isn't goodbye forever of course, I will still hopefully see them quite often around campus, but Friday marked the end of our first block of Problem Based Learning ("PBL") groups. We celebrated our hard work and friendship with a BBQ and drinks at someone's house and I can only hope that my new group is as dedicated and hilarious as my first. 

PBL is the one thing about med school that I love the most (at least in these first two years where they're reluctant to let us to go anywhere near patients!). I must admit however that I came into the process a bit skeptical... I'm somewhat a lone wolf, i.e. a socially challenged introverted hermit. This means that I would rather through my lecture notes and revision questions alone, prefer not to leave the house unless absolutely necessary, and spend most of my time reading or wasting time on the internet. The last two months have taught me that it is actually fun to have study groups, it nearly impossible to learn twenty pages of information in a day and a half and it's very easy to fluff your way through a presentation when you have no idea what you're supposed to be talking about. 

What basically happens each PBL session, is that we are given a case and we have to work through it (differential diagnoses, tests we would order, etc) and come up with "learning issues" that we then go away and research, collate in an online document and attempt to learn. The idea is that in the next session, you will be asked to randomly present any one of the nine learning issues. It might sound a little bit stressful (and it sometimes is) but it all becomes worth it when the person who is on the food roster for the week whips out their homemade creations/hurriedly store-bought delicacies (I'm pretty sure any free food counts as a delicacy when you're a student). We've had Vietnamese spring rolls, lemon meringue pie, a variety of gluten-free cakes and biscuits (we had a coeliac in our group), fried rice, pizza, doughnuts, nachos,  the list goes on... 

Something that is always first to disappear at family gatherings is my mum's sushi. So under Mum's watchful gaze (and I admit, with her helping me) I made sushi for my group for my first food roster. I took nachos and Afghan biscuits for my second go and my group didn't let me forget that I didn't bring  sushi again. I'm glad they liked it so much the first time though. Little do they know that I am planning on packing them each a wee tupperware container of sushi when I make it for my next PBL group. I just hope they enjoy the surprise when the time comes. 

Sushi (from my mother's cookbook brain)


For the sushi rice: 
540ml short/medium grain rice or sushi rice
600ml cold water
80ml rice vinegar or good quality white wine vinegar
1 Tbs caster sugar
½ tsp salt 

For rolling the sushi:
Several sheets of nori (seaweed) 
Filling of choice (tuna, egg rolls, crab sticks, lettuce, steamed carrot, cucumber, avocado, teriyaki chicken, etc) 
Equipment - bamboo sushi mat 


To make the sushi rice:  Place rice in a large sieve. Rinse under cold running water, stirring occasionally with your hand to remove any excess starch, until water runs clear. Drain well. Cook the rice in a rice cooker (or a thick saucepan - place the rice and water in a large saucepan, covered, over high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 12 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes to cool slightly). Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Transfer the rice to a large glass or wooden bowl. Use a wooden paddle to break up rice lumps while gradually adding the vinegar mixture, gently folding to combine. Try not to mash rice. Continue folding and fanning the rice until rice is cool (Or just let the rice cool by leaving it on the bench for a wee while).    

To roll the sushi: Place a sheet of nori on the bamboo mat and starting from one end, cover 2/3 of the nori with rice (make sure that the rice goes all the way to edge). In the middle of the rectangle of rice, place a relatively thin strip of filling. If you want lots of filling, it is best to stack the food items up high rather than wide. Using your thumbs, hold the edge of the mat and lift the nori (from the rice end) away from you, ensuring the ingredients don't fall out. Wet your fingertips and use them to wet the edge of the nori that has no rice on it as this will help the roll stick together. Complete the roll with the bamboo mat and squeeze firmly but not too hard! Place the sushi roll on a chopping board and cut into slices of desired height. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi. 

- Matilda

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