JOPLIN, Mo. — Milk, eggs, bread and sushi.
Local grocery lists will never be the same after a trip to the Joplin PriceCutter store that’s turning a Japanese delicacy into food for the common man.
Since 2005, the local PriceCutter has been offering fresh, handmade sushi in its deli through a partnership with South Carolina-based company Sushi With Gusto. Hein Zaw Han is a sushi chef originally from Myanmar and makes all of PriceCutter’s sushi products.
While he’s made sushi in California, Memphis, Chicago and Oklahoma City, Zaw Han said the Joplin sushi market is one of the best he’s worked in. He has some regular customers who’ve been coming to eat his food for the past 21/2 years.
But business could always be better, Zaw Han said, and he hopes others will fall in love with the same Japanese food he has.
He thinks people are often turned off by the term “sushi” because it is associated with raw fish, but he said many variations are cooked or don’t involve meat. The only thing sushi has to contain to still be considered sushi is rice and seaweed. Some of the filling choices include cucumber, avocado, carrots, cream cheese, cooked crab meat or raw tuna.
“When I first got here I thought, ‘Oh no,’ because I didn’t see anyone that looked like a sushi eater, but more people eat it here than you would think,” Zaw Han said. “People always think it’s raw meat, but it’s not all raw. There are people in this town who would like it, but have never tried it.”
However it’s prepared, Zaw Han said sushi is relatively healthy and can serve as a snack, hors d’oeuvres or a meal.
“It’s not fried, and there’s no grease,” he said.
PriceCutter offers a variety of serving sizes and prices, from pre-made single-meal sushi packs in a variety of raw, cooked or vegetarian choices for about $4 or $5, to 79-piece assorted party trays that can be special ordered for $37.55.
Zaw Han also makes other Japanese dishes including tempura rolls, calamari salad, miso soup and seaweed salad. Zaw Han said he makes 50 to 60 pounds of sushi a day.
According to Sushi With Gusto, sushi is meant to be a finger food, while sashimi should be eaten with chopsticks. Wasabi and soy sauce should be used sparingly, as the condiments are meant to enhance the flavor of the sushi, not cover it up.
Sushi should be eaten the day it is bought because although the vegetables and meat will be fine if refrigerated, the rice will begin to toughen. Any leftovers should be refrigerated immediately.
Zaw Han is one of several instructors that have taught locals how to make their own sushi at Amore Cooking Center in Joplin. Michelle Scott, owner of Amore, offers a basic sushi-making class every month, and an advanced version every other month.
She said the sushi classes are one of the most popular courses the center offers. And she thinks the Japanese dish could draw even more fans if people realized that not all sushi includes raw meat. If diners aren’t crazy about seaweed, Scott said there are other alternatives available. While she admits sushi seems to be a food people are either wild for or couldn’t care less about, she thinks people should at least try the healthy choice before making a judgment.
“People love sushi, it goes over really well here,” Scott said of the classes.
Zaw Han prepares fresh sushi every day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at PriceCutter, and the product is available during the store’s regular hours, open until 11 p.m. every day, in the deli.
Other places in Joplin to get sushi and/or sashimi include Tokyo Steak House, Ichiban, The Great Wall’s daily buffet and Grand Fortuna’s daily buffet.
For those looking to try their own hand at making sushi, a variety of recipes can be found online.
Basic sushi rolls
2/3 cup uncooked short-grain white rice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons white sugar
11/2 teaspoons salt
4 sheets nori seaweed sheets
1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut into small strips
2 tablespoons pickled ginger
1/2 pound imitation crabmeat, flaked
In a medium saucepan, bring 11/3 cups water to a boil. Add rice, and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Blend the mixture into the rice. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. On a medium baking sheet, heat nori in the preheated oven one to two minutes, until warm.
Center one sheet of nori on a bamboo sushi mat. Wet your hands. Using your hands, spread a thin layer of rice on the sheet of nori and press into a thin layer. Arrange 1/4 of the cucumber, ginger, avocado and imitation crabmeat in a line down the center of the rice. Lift the end of the mat, and gently roll it over the ingredients, pressing gently. Roll it forward to make a complete roll. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut each roll into for to six slices using a wet, sharp knife.
Makes eight servings.
Tip: If you do not have a bamboo sushi mat, the easiest way to roll the sushi is to use a clean dish towel.
21/4 cups Japanese sushi-style rice
3 cups water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
11/4 teaspoons salt
Place rice into a large, deep bowl. Fill with cold water and rub rice together with hands until the water turns milky white. Pour off the cloudy water, being careful not to pour out the rice. Repeat three or four times until you can see the rice through 3 inches of water. Drain the rice in a fine strainer, then place into a saucepan with water. Stir together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved in a small bowl, set aside.
Cover, and bring rice to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to stand for five minutes. Scrape rice into a bowl. Stir in vinegar mixture until well incorporated and no lumps of rice remain. Allow to cool at room temperature. For a shinier appearance, use an electric fan to cool the rice rapidly.
Makes 5 cups or four servings.
Melissa Dunson writes for The Joplin (Mo.) Globe.
X X X
Sushi (SOO-shee): Sticky rice and seaweed wrapper encasing a mixture of vegetables and/or raw or cooked meat.
Maki (MAH-kee): Another name for a sushi roll.
Nigiri (ni-JEE-ree): Hand-formed sushi, usually an oblong-shaped lump of rice with a piece of seafood wrapped around it.
Sashimi (sa-SHEE-me): Chilled and sliced raw seafood or other meat that is elegantly garnished with herbs or other vegetables.
Nori (NOR-ee): Dried and pressed layer sheets of seaweed.
Wasabi (wah-SAH-bee): A spicy green horseradish paste used as a condiment with sushi.
Chef: Many never try this healthy dish, thinking it's only served uncooked
JOPLIN, Mo. — Milk, eggs, bread and sushi.