Sunday, March 2, 2008

Comfort Sushi - Colorful and Vegan

This sushi recipe is inspired by Renee Loux Underkoffler's Living Cuisine. While her cookbook emphasizes raw foods, this recipe combines cooked, dried, fermented, toasted, and raw foods: rice, carrot, avocado, nori, balsamic vinegar, cumin, black and white sesame seeds.

But I prefer to think of it in the following context: simple and elegant comfort food.

When paired with homemade "pickled" ginger (not really pickled, but it comes close), wasabi, and organic shoyu (soy sauce), this vegetarian - actually, vegan - sushi is a light and healthy meal, and goes well with the usual suspects: miso soup, salad, homemade (!!) tempura, sake, and fish.

Cook 1 cup sticky rice (I use Alter Eco's Fair Trade Purple Jasmine Rice) and prep vegetables: slice 3 to 4 carrots into matchsticks and marinate in balsamic vinegar; pit and peel 1 avocado, slice into smallish pieces, and season with cumin.

Once rice is a point, sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds over rice, and stir until the rice becomes sticky or "glutinous." Set aside to cool long enough so you don't burn your fingers during the next step.

Lay out 1 piece of nori (sheets of dried seawood found in Asian food stores) on a large cutting board. Spread thin layer of rice over 1/4 - 1/3 of nori's surface. Next add marinated carrots and avocado, then roll the best you can. Unless you have a proclivity for rolling things, getting the right technique takes time and practice. Wet outer edge with water - or saliva, as does my friend - to seal.

Sharpen your best kitchen knife and slice roll into small pieces.

Option for those who love sugar and fire:
Peel and thinly slice fresh ginger root into bite-sized pieces. Toss into a saucepan, pour in enough rice wine vinegar to cover ginger, heat on high, and stir continuously. After a few minutes, sprinkle some brown sugar over the ginger and continue to cook until sugar dissolves in vinegar. Be careful when cooking to not get vinegar steam in your eyes - this can burn. Continue to cook until ginger flavor has mellowed enough for your tastes. This will mean that you have to pluck out a piece now and then to check the ginger's "heat." But do be careful - you don't want to burn your tongue.

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