I received Rice Cube for Christmas (what do you give to a food innovation student, right?) and I tested it on Silvester for some non-traditional sushi. Here's a short review of the device:
What is Rice Cube?
Rice Cube is a simple device that allows you to make rice cubes and blocks. Yes, that's it.
What can it be used for?
Shaping anything sticky and viscous enough into the above mentioned shapes.
It is made form fairly sturdy plastic, consisting of two pieces.
How does it work?
You put rice inside, press and voila, you get a cube. The packaging bombastically claims that now you can make low-cal sushi by avoiding using sushi vinegar and that you can use even normal rice (or other press-able materials), since the rice is "glued" together by pressure rather than the vinegar. This claim made me feel suspicious of the product, because first of all, I do not think sushi vinegar contributes to the stickiness of rice, that's why you use sushi rice for sushi. Vinegar is mainly for taste (proof: onigiri stick perfectly fine without vinegar and without rice cube pressure). So, the product only serves to make the rice into the 90° angle shapes - everything else you can do by hand, or onigiri molds. Yes, rice molds are nothing new.
My tips not mentioned in the manual:
- Rinse the device in cold water before each use, else the rice will stick to it.
- Fill the space really tightly, or you will get a messy one (compare left cube to the right one).
What do I think:
For inexperienced sushi makers, making one sushi using the rice cube takes about the same time as shaping one nigiri sushi by hand - indeed, the making process is faster than I expected.
However, the potential of the cube is quite low - it only makes cubes and the materials have to be sticky and viscous enough to hold the shape. No matter the force, I doubt you will make a cube out of stuff like poppy seeds.
In sum, it is a fun thing to own if you're a food geek, but probably not useful enough to clutter your kitchen if you make sushi once a year.
And here are my creations (2 rice cube pieces and a traditional nigiri one)
Anchovy, caper, lemon
Nori, cucumber, surimi, mayo
For the pancake, I used a recipe from here and home-made red bean paste (I just soak the azuki beans, then boil them until soft, get rid of most of the water, add sugar, let dissolve, mix into a smooth pate and either add or evaporate water, sugar can also be added after making the paste).
Sometimes, when I visit my uncle, I end up with unexpected gifts. This time, it was three glasses of foreign rum and three boiled crayfish from IKEA.