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Veggie Sushi!

April 8, 2009
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Yesterday, I mentioned that for my mom’s 50th birthday party, we made sushi – to be exact, it was a party for both my mom and my uncle, who turned 40 on exactly the same day my mom turned 50.  Freaky, huh?

Meet the birthday kids (my uncle Eric’s kinda blurry.  Sorry, Eric!)

Happy 50th, Mom!

Happy Birthday, Eric!

Happy Birthday, Eric!

And we had a sushi lesson – inspired by Ree over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks, we conned* my aunt’s next door neighbor, a chef, to come over and show us the withertos and the whyfores (Name that movie!  Anyone?) of beautiful, amazing sushi.  Because we had a couple of vegetarians, a couple of people who don’t like fish, and a couple of people who would much prefer to eat steak and potatoes than anything else, we stuck with mostly veggie sushi, with a little imitation crab thrown in for good measure.  To any sushi purists out there – don’t knock the veggie sushi ’till you’ve tried it.  It’s lovely and simple and wonderful (and cheap!!).

If you’re a sushi newcomer, you should check out Ree’s extensive sushi tutorial.  No way could I best what she’s done, so  I won’t try.  What I would like to do is point out some alternatives to both traditional sushi and what Ree’s lesson will show you how to make (which, by her own admission, is not very traditional).

Ready, everyone?

Meet my lovely family. I have no explanations for the face my cousin is making on the left.

Good.  Let’s begin.

First of all, you’ll need to make your sushi rice.  We didn’t get to see this part, so go over to Ree’s for a minute to see how that’s done.  I’ll wait.

Back?  Excellent.

Now we’re ready to make the rolls.  You’ll need a sushi mat, covered in plastic wrap to keep the rice from sticking to the bamboo.  Most sushi is made with nori, a thin sheet of dried seaweed.  This is what I prefer to use, but the big hit of the party were soy wraps like these.  They come in all sorts of fun colors, and they have a more neutral flavor than nori.  (Though really, nori doesn’t have a strong flavor, and it’s quite tasty.)  You can use whatever floats your boat.  Place the wrapping material of your choice onto your plastic-covered sushi mat, and cover it almost completely with a relatively thin layer of rice. Make sure your hands are wet, though, or you’ll wind up covered in rice.  Icky.

The model in these photos is my not-quite-ten-year-old cousin Shayna. Thanks, Shayna!

Now you get to do the fun part – fill it up!  Here’s a list of some things you can put in veggie sushi; there’s probably no end to what you can include, so if anyone has other ideas, speak up!

– Deep fried tofu (YUM!  Easily available at an Asian market.)

– Avocado

– Cucumber

– Tempura veggies, especially yams

– Asparagus

– Mango

– Green apple

– Mushroom

– Green onion

– Sesame seeds

– Spicy mayo (mayo mixed with sriracha – known in my world as “rooster sauce” – it’s vegan if you use Japanese mayo)

Now it’s time to roll it all up.  Again, you should go to Ree’s for a lesson in how to do it, but here’s Shayna to demonstrate again:

Thats Chad, our lovely and obliging chef, helping Shayna.

That's Chad, our lovely and obliging chef, helping Shayna.

Then it’s time to (VERY CAREFULLY) slice the rolls, using a very sharp, wet knife.  It’s kind of like cutting bread – you ease the knife in so that it doesn’t squish everything.

See how careful she's being? I could (and, um, should) totally take lessons from her.

Then just plop the sushi pieces in some soy sauce (Add wasabi if you must – personally, I can’t stand the stuff.), and enjoy!  Repeat until you reach the “sushi coma” stage, in which you may or may not be able to remember your middle name.

I made this roll. It has fried tofu, asparagus, avocado, green onions, sesame seeds, and spicy mayo. Mmmmm...

One more thing: my family, in their enduring zaniness, decided that “dessert sushi” would be an awesome idea.  To this end, we saw many rolls made with soy wraps, fruit, and brown sugar.  And believe it or not, they were quite tasty.  This is all by way of saying that as far as I’m concerned, with sushi, anything goes.  Have fun!

*Disclaimer: Ree didn’t con anyone into teaching her to make sushi – that was just us.  The part Ree inspired was the lesson, not the conning.

**Edited to change the picture of my mother, who complained about the previous one.  I gave in ’cause it’s her birthday.

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