Now, back to the topic of sushi. Those of you who know me in real life know that sushi has long been one of my favorite foods. I first had sushi my first year in college, with my lovely friend Sarah, and since then it became one of my very favorite foods and usually my first choice when I ate out. In recent years, however, I have noticed that the fish just no longer tastes as good as it used to – right about at the same time that overfishing became a very real concern and that I discovered just how much farmed fish had overtaken wild fish. So I started ordering mainly vegetarian rolls, with maybe a little mackerel sashimi.
Gluten-intolance further made things difficult. Like Iris of the Daily Dietribe, this meant no more tempura rolls (and yam tempura rolls were on their way to becoming one of my favorite options to replace fish at sushi restaurants), no more spicy tofu rolls (they often have wheat, and if not, they have eggs in the mayo, which I also avoid), no more soy-marinated mushrooms in my veggie rolls, and just generally more vigilance when ordering. Yes, I would bring my little bottle of tamari, but by this year, sushi had really stopped being the magical delicious eating-out experience it used to be for me.
And that made me sad, so I finally did something about it. I bought a little sushi mat. I found this blog post over at the Fat Free Vegan about non traditional vegan sushi with brown rice. I remembered how I had gone to a sushi-rolling workshop sometime in college.
Ok really, I started to think about doing something about it, and then Mark Bittman wrote about the very same sushi malaise I was feeling (minus the gluten-intolerance, egg-avoidance component) and I finally instituted sushi at home, especially when Bittman convinced me it was all about the rice and the taste, and not about perfect sushi form. Though, with a little patience, you can get pretty nice-looking sushi, as my photos of at-home sushi above shows.
The rice is still an ongoing project. I avoid all refined sugars and prefer brown rice, so right now, the method is to make a cup of Lundberg short-grain brown rice in the rice cooker, use as much water as the rice cooker brown rice setting requires, add an extra cup of water (per Fat Free Vegan’s method), cook the rice, and it is on warm setting, add about another 1/3 to 1/2 cup of water to increase the stickiness. I plan to experiment with adapting Just Hungry’s method for sticky rice to brown rice, especially since I see that Jenn Cuisine has used it for brown rice in her chicken teriyaki sushi. Incidentally Jenn linked to this handy sushi-rolling tutorial. For seasoning the rice, for each cup of cooked brown rice, I use 3/4 tablespoon coconut sap (see Coconut Secrets Coconut Nectar), 1 tablespoon unseasoned brown rice vinegar (I like this one), and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. I like the coconut sap, as it is more neutral tasting than agave. I might try a combination of brown rice syrup (which is not low-glycemic like agave or coconut sap) and coconut sap. As I was writing this post, I also realized that Lundberg makes sweet short brown rice, so may look into that.
Once the rice is seasoned, I start rolling, and my husband cuts the rolls. He also takes care of cutting the vegetables, because he really juliennes vegetables far better than me. And it is lots of fun. Our favorite is a roll with avocado, carrots, jalapenos, cucumbers and scallions:
We make this roll every time we have sushi night. For the other rolls we mix things up and make different variations every time. Because spicy tuna rolls used to be a long-time favorite, I made Veganomicon‘s Spicy Tempeh Rolls. They really are more delicious than tuna rolls:
Recently, I found some smoked salmon made with wild Alaskan salmon, so made smoked salmon and avocado rolls:
And husband wanted to try a beef, scallion, avocado and mustard roll. We are going to remake this with grass-fed beef at some point, because it could be really delicious.
While we are still working out the rice specifics, the fact we use all organic vegetables gives the rolls a great flavor boost. And, despite splurging on organic vegetables, nori and wild-caught salmon, the cost was far far less than a night out at a sushi restaurant. And best of all, sushi night is fun and sushi is magic deliciousness again.
General Disclosures & Disclaimers