Saturday, March 31, 2012

vegan sushi

I always assumed sushi was hard to make. How did they get those rolls to come out so tight and clean?

I was delighted to discover that it's not hard at all. Vegan sushi in particular is easy, because with vegan sushi there's no worrying about keeping the raw fish clean and fresh.

Restaurants generally make sushi with a particular kind of rice called "sushi" rice. In short, it's stickier. But of course I make it with brown rice, because white rice is not a whole food.

You can use any grain of rice; long, medium, or short grain. Short grain will be the stickiest, and thus the easiest to work with. I have the best luck with pressure-cooked rice, but any cooking method should be fine as long as it's not too watery.

The baseline ingredients; you need these no matter what:
  • nori sheets. That's the seaweed that wraps everything up. They usually come toasted, and that is my preference. I like these. They tend to come perforated for easy cutting (yep, just like paper!), but if you have a sharp knife it really doesn't matter.
  • Cooked brown rice. Just make a couple cups so you have enough to experiment with.
For the innards, you can play around and make it a bunch of different ways. I have found the following to be both delicious and highly nutritious (I call it "whole-carrot sushi"):
  • 1 tsp flax oil (per roll) (not a whole food -- but most would say it's quite healthy. If you're strict, it's fine to leave it out.)
  • <1 tsp nutritional yeast (per roll)
  • 1/8 cup lightly toasted or raw sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • 1 carrot, steamed
The magic:
  1. Lay the nori sheet out on a clean dry cutting board. There may be a rougher and smoother side to the nori sheet. If so, put the rough side up so the smooth side ends up on the outside. It doesn't really matter much for functionality, so if you get it backwards, that's okay.
  2. Look at the perforations on the nori roll. Line them up so they go vertical. Again, not critical.
  3. Put rice on the lower 60% or so of the sushi roll. Spread it out with a wooden spoon, or (better) your freshly washed fingers. I aim for about 3/8 of an inch thickness.
  4. Dribble the flax oil into the rice, sprinkle on the nutritional yeast and sunflower seeds, and lay the carrot in horizontally.
  5. The moment of truth is when you roll it up. This is when you discover if you put the right amount of rice and/or fillings. To roll, start at the bottom and simply roll it up like you would a yoga mat. If all goes well, the warm moisture of the rice will work like magic to "seal" the nori in a nice loop.
  6. To cut it, use a large, well-sharpened knife (I recommend the accusharp sharpener). Cut firmly and decisively, just watch your fingers. If the knife is sharp enough and you make a good cut, it doesn't matter whether you hit the perforations or not.