June 11, 2011

Vegetarian Sushi Rolls

With summer just around the corner, all I can seem to think about is food fit for warm weather, eaten at room temperature or chilled. Sushi is just one of those items. Sushi was first developed in Southeast Asia as a means of preserving fish by storing salted fish in a package of fermented rice, which was then thrown away. The Japanese began to eat the rice with the fish and finally contemporary sushi, using vinegar rice instead of fermented rice, was developed as a fast food during the 19th century in Tokyo. Though sushi does take some practice to make well at home, it is well worth the time and effort because it is a beautiful and delicious dish. I find the most difficult step to be the rice, because it requires the most attention and patience, yet becomes easier in time. Burdock and carrot kinpira or mustard green soup taste especially good when served with fresh sushi rolls.

Sushi can be made with any number of fillings including various vegetables and fish, raw or cooked, depending upon preference and availability.

1 c sushi rice

1 c water

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

½ tbsp salt

4 sheets of nori

4 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned into long strips

1 medium bell pepper, trimmed and julienned into long strips

1 avocado, halved and cut lengthwise into ¼" segments

bamboo sushi rolling mat

1. Place rice into a fine strainer and rinse with cold water until water runs clear. Place rice and 1 c water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook rice until al dente, about 15 minutes. Once al dente, remove rice from heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Do not stir rice during cooking process.

2. Combine rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Once ingredients are simmering, remove from heat.

3. Place rice in a large bowl, add vinegar mixture and combine thoroughly by folding rice. Allow rice mixture to cool to room temperature before using rice for rolling sushi.

4. Lay a sheet of nori on the rolling mat with the shiny side down. Place ½ c rice on nori. Wet hands and spread rice evenly on mat leaving about a 1 ½" strip of nori uncovered at the top. Sprinkle 1 tsp of sesame seeds evenly over rice.

5. Place desired amount of filling along rice, about 1" from the bottom. Starting from the bottom, use the rolling mat to evening roll the sushi fairly tightly, being careful the filling is rolled into the sushi and the mat is not. Once you have rolled to the edge of the remaining strip of nori, wet the edge and finish rolling the sushi. When the sushi is completely rolled, gently squeeze the sushi so it does not fall apart during cutting. Repeat process with remaining nori.

6. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the sushi rolls into 6-8 pieces each, cleaning knife often to prevent sticking. Serve sushi immediately with soy sauce, wasabi or pickled ginger.

Makes 4 sushi rolls


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