NYSDM: Japanese
by Dave

Ninja Scroll movie poster
This is the Japanese version of our Not Your Standard Dinner and a Movie date idea. As with all of these movie dates, the plan is to take a cultural theme and really dive into it. In other words, you don't invite someone over for pork chops and The Notebook, you invite them over for sushi and Ninja Scroll. And you don’t just buy sushi, you make it, and you might as well have some warm sake while you do!

The Meal
Most people think sushi is something you have to buy in a restaurant, but in reality it's not that difficult to make. I was going provide a long list of complicated instructions, but video makes it so much easier to understand.

Making Sushi Rice

  1. Thoroughly rinse 1 cup of rice and let sit for 30 minutes
  2. Cook in rice-cooker or pot
  3. Make sushi vinegar by mixing 6 tablespoons vinegar, 5 tablespoons sugar, 3 tablespoons salt
  4. Heat vinegar on low until sugar and salt dissolved, set aside to cool
  5. Gradually stir vinegar into cooked rice

Making Sushi
You can find sushi grade fish in the seafood section of most markets these days, but if you want really fresh fish try the Asian markets.

Sashimi Instructions

Basic Sushi Roll Instructions

California Roll

The Movie
If you’re not familiar with Anime, this is your chance to find out why 80 million Japanese can’t be wrong.

  • Ninja Scroll (1993)
    Jubei, a sword for hire, get caught up in a plan by the Shogun of the Dark to overthrow the government. My favorite of the group with plenty of blood and interesting villains.
  • Sen to chihiro No Kamikakushi – aka Spirited Away (2001)
    The story of a 10-year-old girl who wanders into a magical world when her family moves. This is the highest-grossing film in Japanese history.
  • Akira (1988)
    An anime classic in which a bike gang leader tries to help a friend who’s involved in a secret government project called Akira.
  • Ghost in the Shell (1995)
    A dark cyberpunk-style film that takes place in 2029 when nations have been replaced by city-states and megacorporations. One of the early futuristic dystopias with an artificial intelligence as the antagonist, it’s an interesting story, but not easy to follow.
  • Vampire Hunter D (2000)
    D is a vampire hunter who is hired to retrieve the girl Charlotte after she is abducted by a powerful vampire. Lots of hack-n-slash in this one.
Ok, maybe Anime’s not your thing. How about a classic samurai flick from the famous director Akira Kurosawa?
  • Seven Samurai (1954): A village being terrorized by bandits hires seven samurai to defend them. This film had an effect on Hollywood movies and was the inspiration for The Magnificent Seven.
If you’re like me and can appreciate a bad movie, try one of the classic Godzilla films. Some people like Godzilla’s early days with Mothra and Rodan, but I prefer his later work with Mechagodzilla, Monster Zero, and King Ghidorah.

Are you thinking that all of these are a little too guy-oriented? Ok, then maybe Shall We Dance (1996) is a better pick for you. The story is about a straight-laced Japanese businessman who decides to take up dancing after spotting a dance school on his way home from work. Apparently dancing is seen as too frivolous for serious businessmen over in Japan, so he has to hide his new passion from his coworkers and his wife. I saw this one some years back and while a story about dancing isn't exactly my first choice, it was pretty good. This movie got a Hollywood remake (terrible) with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, I beg you not to rent this version!

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Try it with warm sake, or a Japanese beer like Kirin, Asahi, or Sapporo.

You'll Need

Rice vinegar (sushi rice vinegar)
Rice (preferably short-grain glutenous rice)
Bamboo mat, plastic wrap
Wasabi paste
Soy sauce
Seaweed sheets
Sharp knife
Sesame seeds (optional)

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