I never had sushi till I came to Australia. Even then, when I first tried it, my first thought was that it uh had.. “potential”.. if only certain things were adjusted to balance the flavour. The soy sauce further ruined it for me. And so did the cold temperature. So in 2018, I decided to make vegetarian sushi rolls myself. A totally healthy version with bursts of flavour, and with spicy sauce to replace the soy sauce. Even for the first try, I was impressed at how versatile and fun sushi can be. Not to mention ridiculously easy to make.
Ask husband to buy:
1 cup rice in total makes about 3-5 sushi rolls
– Bamboo mat for rolling the sushi
– 1 cup Japanese sushi rice OR a mix of half and half Japanese sushi rice and brown rice mix
– Apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar
– Nori sea-weed sushi sheets
– Cucumbers cut long in thick julienne
– Capsicum cut long in thick julienne
– Carrots cut long in thick julienne
– Avocado sliced length wise
– Asparagus if you like the taste
(I personally don’t care for it in my sushi)
– Salt as per taste
– Sugar to add to the rice
– Spicy Sushi Sauce
(I make my own and the recipe for this sauce is here too!)
For Spicy Sushi Sauce:
– 2/3 cup Hung yogurt
(Take a muslin cloth and put some yogurt in it. Tie it up loosely so it looks like a purse with string and hang from the spout of a tap for 5 hours or over-night or so. Also check out these muslin cloth bags that eliminate the need to find a string and all that nonsense!)
– 2-3 tea spoons Tahini or sesame oil
(I sub sesame oil with tahini pretty much everywhere because I have Tahini in fridge for dressings etc. and frankly who buys like one ingredient for a random dish?)
– 1 teaspoon Lemon juice
(I tend to just add whatever amount “feels right” honestly)
– Hot sauce/sriracha/tobasco/peri peri anything you have at hand to pass as chilli sauce basically. Add according to taste and preference of hotness level.
This is how we do it:
Spicy Sushi Sauce
- Water down the tahini to thin it down a little.
- Add other ingredients for the sauce and mix it all together. If need be, add water little by little till you achieve desired consistency.
(My ideal consistency is easily pourable)
- I add this sauce to the filling and also drizzle a little on each of the cut sushi rolls for flavour and presentation.
- You can use this sauce in a creamy sandwich filling and also as a dip for veggies, chips, fries, fritters, and all of our favourite savoury snack items.
- Cook the Japanese sushi rice as per instructions on the packet. Add a little salt and sugar to this as well.
(I found that on induction cooktop, it takes me slightly longer and I have to add extra water and keep stirring the rice in between so it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the vessel.
Let me add a disclaimer that this is NOT how an actual sushi chef would recommend making the rice. But it is the easy version that cooks fast, is healthy and tastes awesome.)
- Once the sushi rice is cooked, keep it covered on cool surface for 10 minutes or so.
- Now traditionally, the technique calls for adding rice-wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar to the rice and mix immediately while fanning it with other hand. You could cheat and just softly blow on the rice while mixing. This step is to make the rice sticky and hold nicely in the sushi roll.
(Clearly this step was designed while looking at a picture of some Hindu deity with multiple hands. So I just call my husband to fan it while I mix quickly)
- Cook brown rice separately as you normally would.
- Add the brown rice to the white rice and mix gently. It will all turn into a sticky mixture and that is exactly what we want so do not be impatient with it.
- I like to begin making the rolls almost immediately after the rice is done. You could wait till it cools down to your desired temperature. I am not into cold food at all so I prefer using hot rice.
- Take the bamboo sushi mat and cover it with cling wrap.
- Spread the nori sheet on the mat. The sheet should be with shiny side down (shiny side should touch the mat side i.e.)
- Keep a small bowl of water next to you in your prep area. Wet your fingers and quickly spread the water using your fingers, onto the nori sheet. Be gentle or you could tear the sheet. Also be quick and don’t take too much time or the water will dry off.
- Spread the rice in a thin layer all over the nori sheet using your fingers. Leave just a little margin on one edge so that you can use that edge to seal the roll.
- A neat trick to make sure the roll isn’t too flimsy and doesn’t just fall apart in your hands, is to lay out two sheets with a tiny area overlapping so that the sheet overall does another turn over your roll.
- After the rice is spread, add the veggies all through the length of the sheet on one end. After avocado, I add a little bit of salt for taste and also add a bit of the spicy sushi sauce.
- Roll the sushi carefully and patiently all the way through. When at the edge, you will need to wet the edge again and seal immediately.
This video here shows clearly how to spread the rice on the nori sheet*.
- Cut the roll into pieces as thick as you like. Remember to wet the knife as well for smoothly cutting-up the rolls.
- You could also let them be long rolls and just enjoy biting into them. I do this because my impatient ass can’t wait to eat.
- Drizzle some spicy sushi sauce or soy sauce and enjoy!
- For a more fancy feel you could also sprinkle some black sesame seeds to the cut pieces.
- Bonus tip: If you don’t mind cold sushi, you can make the rolls at night and keep it in the fridge for your lunch the next day.
There are sushi kits in the market as well but I haven’t tried any myself. I find this method easy and quick. If you are bothered by the smell of the nori-sheet (it has that sea-weed smell), then this might just not be for you. It is one of my fave comfort foods and for this, I just make the rice and keep for a couple of days. The sauce also keeps well in the fridge for a few days. The veggies must be cut fresh quickly because otherwise they go soft; the crunch is the best part after all!
*Note how you must spread the rice using gentle patting motion. Also note how the veggies go on one side only and how the rolling action actually happens.
Where’s the hygge?
Rice and avocado are my absolute favourite. Any dish that combines these two is bound to be amazing. Also, crunchy veggies are such a happy feeling to bite into. Plus I basically fixed sushi for vegetarian and spice craving taste-buds. So hand me my Michelin Star already!