Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vegetable Sushi

Have you ever watched a sushi chef? Like really watched them delicately but swiftly spread the sticky rice onto the nori, then place the perfectly sliced fish or vegetables over the bed of rice? And the best part is when they roll it all up and slice it into beautiful circles. It's an art form, really. And it's absolutely delicious.
I've had Japan in my heart and mind ever since the horrible earthquake and tsunami that struck that beautiful country. The Japanese have such a long road ahead of them and sadness for those people and all who were lost is such a real thing for me right now. So I figured to honor the wonderful Japanese people, I would make some sushi. Let us all keep the Japanese in our prayers.
Making sushi is quite the endeavor. It's pretty time consuming, but the end results are more than worth it. I recommend making it with someone, to share the prep work, but also share the deliciousness when it's complete. I've made sushi a few times for myself, and it tastes wonderful, but I have to admit, it's a little sad eating it by myself.

I will do my best here with explaining the whole process, but I learned to make sushi the first time by reading my beautifully photographed sushi cookbook given to me by someone really special. Also, YouTube has some great step-by-step videos about how to roll the sushi. Now, according to my pretty sushi cookbook, the traditional way to make sushi is very methodical and kind of technical at times. I'm just showing you the easiest way that I've learned how to do it. It's really not as hard as it looks, it just takes time, a really sharp knife, and patience. I find that making sushi relaxes me. There's something totally Zen about it. Sounds weird? Try it.
I use short grain brown rice when I make my sushi. It's not traditional, nor is it as sticky as white sushi rice, but it works totally fine and it's so much healthier because the entire rice grain is preserved. Nori, and any other type of seaweed for that matter, is incredibly healthy and high in various minerals. Feel free to add other vegetables to this (I've used asparagus and sweet potatoes before) and also fish. If using fish, make sure it's sustainably sourced, super fresh (it should have no fishy odor), and preferably wild caught.

You will need a sushi mat for this. They're really inexpensive and are sold at grocery stores in the Asian section.

Vegetable Sushi
For the sushi rice:
1 1/2 cups uncooked short grain brown rice (it needs to be short grain, not long grain)
3 cups water
4 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt

For the roll filling
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks (see photo)
1 cucumber, cut into strips
1 avocado, sliced
nori seaweed sheets

Extras
Wasabi powder
Soy sauce

1. Start by adding the rice and the water to a rice cooker and cook until the rice is done. It takes awhile to cook, so you can get all of your prep done during this time.

2. While the rice cooks, cut up all of the vegetables and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar and salt is dissolved (or almost dissolved). When your rice is done cooking, add it to the large bowl with the vinegar mixture and stir thoroughly. The rice will absorb the mixture and taste divine. Put the bowl with the hot flavored rice into the freezer for about 10 minutes to cool it down a bit. You don't want to put hot rice onto the nori sheets, believe me.

4. After the rice is adequately cooled (it can still be a little warm), lay a sheet of nori on your sushi mat. Place about 2/3 cup of cooked rice onto the nori sheet and spread it gently with a spoon so it's evenly distributed across the nori. Leave about 1 1/2 inches across the top of the nori sheet with no rice.

5. Now, add some vegetables in a line across the bottom of the now rice covered nori (Well, it's almost covered. Remember, you still have that 1 1/2 inch strip of bare nori acoss the top). See the above photo for a guide to the amount of vegetables to use.

6. Next is the fun part. Start from the bottom where the vegetables are. Place your fingers over the vegetables to hold them in place, then use your thumbs to lift the edge of the rolling mat closest to you over the filling, forming it into a roll. Roll the mat up, pressing it all around the nori to keep the roll firm. Lift up the top of the mat and turn the roll until the edges of nori touch and seal the roll. When the edges of nori come in contact, they seal themselves. Roll the entire roll once more with the mat and exert gentle pressure to make sure the roll is firm. You now have a sushi roll! You're almost there!

7. With a sharp knife, gently slice the roll into one inch discs. This takes practice. Don't be down on yourself if they don't look too pretty or fall apart. You have to make more rolls to finish the rice, so you get to practice.
Continue this process until you finish all the rice. This makes about 5 or 6 rolls, enough for two hungry people or one person with lots of leftovers. Serve with prepared wasabi (equal parts water and wasabi powder, mixed into a paste) and soy sauce and enjoy it. Savor it. You deserve it after all that work.








2 comments:

  1. My daughter and I love sushi, especially veggie!
    thank you for giving simple to follow directions and tips. We are going to give this a try over the weekend!
    Amber
    p.s. I found this recipe through Pinterest...

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  2. Thanks so much for reading, Amber. I'm so excited you're going to try this recipe! I'm sure it will come out great. I love vegetable sushi SO much!

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