Though I still eat fish occasionally, I do love me a good veggie sushi. Plus, making it at home for the first time, I was not about to go handling raw fish and eating it. I’m not yet that brave… But the veggie sushi is totally ok! M got a sushi kit for Christmas, and it was high time that we utilized it.
Making sushi is not a quick, easy endeavor… It takes a lot of prep time and assembly time. With some frustration in getting it right (over stuffing the roll means that it won’t close, or worse, burst and you have sushi guts all over the place). But, for a first foray, I think we did ok! The flavor was great, and I just had to creatively turn the rolls so the non-exploded part was showing (though in the pic above I wanted to show the exploded sushi can still look nice). And eat it carefully, as it would fall apart from said exploded area. I learned that it’s also ok to eat sushi with your fingers! Much better at holding together a splurted roll than chopsticks.
You want to make the rice an hour or so before you’re ready to make the sushi – it needs enough time to soak in the vinegar as well as cool down a bit (or, make the rice, and then prep the veggies). The sushi kit came with a large, shallow bamboo dish. Soak this for a few minutes in water so it’s not dry (you don’t want it to pull moisture out of the rice). I first cooked the rice in my rice cooker – I used 2 scoops of sushi rice (rinsed very well), added the right amount of water, and set it to “sushi rice” mode. When it’s done, scoop it out into the bamboo bowl (you could also just use a regular bowl or pie plate or something, but it’s preferable to use something made of wood).
I essentially followed Morimoto’s recipe, which can be found here. You make a vinegar-water solution that you gently pour and cut/stir into the rice with a flat, bamboo (preferably) rice spoon-thing. For the vinegar water:
- 1/2 C rice vinegar (or combination of rice and white wine, as per Morimoto)
- 1/4 C white sugar
- 2 T salt
Heat in a small skillet to just dissolve the sugar and salt. Slowly ladle this over the rice,1/4 C at a time, cutting/folding it into the rice well each time. Taste, and only use as much liquid as to suit your taste. Once it’s at the right point, cover with a damp cloth and let cool to room temperature (or slightly warmer).
Now start prepping the veggies. You can use anything and everything you like – some staples are:
- wasabi – fresh or paste; I found a pre-made paste that is found in the freezer section, but you could also just buy some from the sushi counter. I’ve noticed the flavors vary greatly, so find one that suits your tastes.
- julienned carrot
- julienned cucumber
- thinly sliced avocado (tempura this for amazing crunchy flavor)
- thinly sliced mango
- pea shoots or similar
- thinly sliced cabbage
- lettuce (I like to use the lovely butter lettuce)
- thinly sliced mushrooms
- thinly sliced daikon radish (or even regular radish)
- vegan mayo/aoili seasoned with a touch of tamari
- sesame seeds (toasted white and black seeds)
- anything else! This is your chance to get creative with flavors.
To make the rolls, you need a sushi mat. Cover the mat with some saran wrap. Cut a nori/sushi wrapper in half (or some already come cut to size) and place on the mat. You want the flat (vs. shiny) side towards you, so the shiny side will be facing outward and have a pretty presentation. Have a bowl of water handy, to dip your hands in to keep the rice from sticking. Get your hands nice and wet, then take a small bit of sushi rice and spread it very thinly over the bottom 3/4 of the nori.
Make a small groove along the rice, and then swipe a small bit of wasabi here (optional, if you like the heat). Then layer a few pieces of the filling of your choice. Note – don’t over stuff! Now it’s time to roll it into a roll.
While holding the filling, gently (using the mat) roll the bottom over the filling. Roll and pull the mat away as you do so to complete the roll. Don’t push too hard. Once rolled, set it aside and make another! (If you’re having issues, there are a bajillion youtube videos on how to do this, so a quick google search should help.)
If you want a rice-on-the-outside roll, follow the above step of placing the nori on the plastic wrap, but this time cover the whole thing with a very thin layer of rice. Then gently flip it over, and continue with the filling and rolling. Finish by rolling the roll (prior to cutting) in sesame seeds or roe or something.
After you’re done making the rolls, it’s time to cut. You need a super sharp knife and a tall glass of hot water. Dip the knife in the hot water, then make a cut in the center of the roll. Dip the knife back into the water. Cut each half into 3 pieces (so each roll gives you 6 pieces), dipping the knife into the warm water between each cut.
We had some rice leftover, so we decided to make some veggie hand rolls. Essentially, just form some rice into a log shape, and top with a small schmear of wasabi and your choice of veggies. That’s the easy way. 🙂 But delicious none the less!
Serve with the traditional tamari as a dipper, and go to town. This is essentially a guilt-free meal (unless you tempura everything before rolling, ’cause a tempura avocado roll is to die for)!