Sushi at the Commissary not just raw fish
By Senior Airman Stephen Musal , 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 15, 2010
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Nuam Dim gently dips the rice paper in a bowl of lukewarm water, wetting the thin film so it won't crack when she rolls the first sushi batch of the morning at the Commissary.
With attention to detail rivaling that of an Airman, she chooses the freshest lettuce, cucumber sticks and imitation crab meat and artfully arranges the ingredients on the rice paper. Imperfections in the ingredients are not tolerated; Ms. Dim discards two pieces of lettuce before placing the perfect stalk. To this base, she adds avocado and shredded carrots, topping the entire construction with two boiled, butterflied shrimp.
With practiced hands, Ms. Dim begins to roll the rice paper - and the seemingly disorganized ingredients reveal the final product, a well-planned, edible work of art. She carefully slices the sushi roll, placing it in a package for sale before gathering ingredients for the next roll. The entire process took less than five minutes, but she has many more rolls to finish before the Commissary officially opens and each is an individual creation.
Ms. Dim and her partner, Aung Naing, prepare the packaged sushi rolls fresh every day, beginning at 7 a.m. In addition to the roll above, the sushi stand in the Buckley Commissary offers a wide variety of makizushi (literally, rolled sushi) and nigirizushi (slices of fish over rice). The rolls are wrapped in nori (seaweed paper) or rice paper, and the a la carte-style stand offers both vegetarian and seafood options.
"We use fresh ingredients every day," Mr. Naing said. "Attention to food safety and a clean preparation environment are crucial to healthy, tasty sushi."
While some fish served as part of sushi is raw, precautions are taken to ensure the food is safe to eat. Other fish, such as freshwater eel, served as part of the dragon roll, are grilled, and some rolls contain no fish at all.
Despite the variety, all sushi prepared at the Commissary does have one thing in common: Ms. Dim and Mr. Naing put their efforts toward making sure each roll of makizushi or package of nigirizushi presented to the customer is perfect.
Ms. Dim rolls the nori filled with rice, grilled eel and other items into a long tube. After covering the dragon roll with avocado, she slices it for ease of consumption and places it in a serving tray. As she displays the newest item in front of the stand, she smiles at the customers in the Commissary as they select a roll or two here, a serving of nigirizushi there. Then she returns to her art.