After realizing that my monthly sushi bill was fast approaching my summer energy bill (which rises by a factor of 3 after June thanks to a ravenous AC), I thought it was time I took matters, literally, into my own hands. I was intent on finding the minimalist way to get maximalist results (no sushi-making classes for me). And I found it: blending many of the ingredients of a sushi roll with all the “just stuff it in there” attitude of a burrito. Unlike proper sushi-making, this process requires no skill, no special ingredients, and no equipment. I have heard that the “true” sushi hand roll is actually the hardest style to perfect, but that’s just the point, avoid perfection (or any preconceived notion about what should or should not go in into it), and you will be thrilled with the results.
With this one I went pretty traditional and used cooked shrimp (which I sliced in half), matchstick slices of cucumber, very thin shavings of carrot, brown rice, avocado and a sheet of Nori seaweed. I went very light on the rice and instead stuffed it heavily with vegs. I tucked slices of ginger inside, sprinkled soy sauce before rolling (recall, I’m an advocate of rule-breaking) and added a dusting of black sesame seeds on top.
You can use any fish you wish (raw or cooked) or skip the ocean and go veggie – with thin slices of grilled tofu or tempeh. If you have leftover quinoa, use that instead of rice. Leftover squash or sweet potato? Add it! If you’re not into seaweed, use rice paper “skins”- dip them in hot water until soft and roll away. And don’t feel you have to roll it in a conical shape. Roll it burrito style and then cut it in half.
The bits pre-assembly.
Nori is one the most nutritionally dense foods, though you need to eat quite a bit of it to get a large amount of the nutrients. In one sheet you’ll get about 1 gram of protein, plus a dose of vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, iodine, phosphorous and iron.
Like much of what we eat, most of the seaweed these days is not wild but farmed. It’s still grown in the ocean, but under confined, controlled conditions – just like its fish mates.
As an interesting aside: the controversial additive MSG was first discovered in 1908 in Japan, growing naturally on dried seaweed. Japanese cooks starting using the seaweed as a base for soups, because of this added flavor enhancer, and even came up with a name for the taste sensation it produced – ”umami” (meaning delicious). MSG is now mass produced by growing it on wheat gluten proteins.
By the way, if you’re really into seaweed, you will not want to miss Trader Joe’s 99 cent seaweed snacks. They’re palm-sized pieces of seaweed that come in a foil-wrapped pack. I fold them over twice and pop it in my mouth. Nothing but seaweed, oil and salt. Heaven. I can eat an entire pack in under five and usually end up handing a gutted package to the cashier, “Oh and this one too….”
A sheet of nori seaweed…
…and its birthplace.
Ever tried your hand at DIY “sushi”?
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