The Book calls this recipe a "deconstructed sushi roll." It could also be called a "California Roll in a Bowl."
First, the rice. After all, "sushi" means vinegar rice. I rinsed some sushi rice (medium-grain Japanese rice) in a few changes of water, and then I put it in a sieve to drain. Then, I combined it with some water in a pot, brought it to a boil, cooked it for a few minutes, and then took it off the heat to stand, covered, for a while longer. The short cooking time, plus the longer steaming time off the heat results in a tender, chewy sushi rice with just the right amount of stickiness. While the rice was sitting, I brought some rice vinegar, sugar and salt to boil in a small saucepan just long enough to dissolve all of the sugar. Then I spread the rice into a shallow baking dish and sprinkled the vinegar mixture over it and tossed it with a little wooden paddle that someone gave us in a "sushi kit." The step of spreading the rice in a baking dish and gently sprinkling it with the vinegar might seem like unnecessary overkill, but I remember seeing something on TV once about how sushi is made, and the cooling and seasoning of the rice is apparently a very important part of its taste and texture. I think that it would be a mistake to just dump the vinegar into the pot of rice and start stirring away.
Next, the vegetables. First, using a vegetable peeler, I made some very thin carrot slices, which I then cut into diagonal strips (sounds like a pain, but it only took a couple of minutes). Next, I chopped some scallions and seedless cucumber. (The Book's instruction to "seed" the "seedless" cucumber struck me as a bit odd, but maybe that's just me.)
To make the dressing, I whisked together some wasabi paste, water and canola oil in a large bowl. (As I've noted a couple of times, I'm cooking dairy/soy/gluten free these days. I made my own wasabi paste using wasabi powder and water because the prepared wasabi paste contained "lactose." Also, The Book calls for "vegetable oil," but if you read the lables, every brand of "vegetable oil" is 100% "soybean oil." So, I used canola instead.) Then I added the rice, carrots, cucumber, scallion and some chopped pickled ginger and toasted sesame seeds. I tossed it all together and topped it off with sliced avacado, and a sprinking of nori "confetti" that I cut with kitchen shears from a sheet of toasted nori.
The Book suggests using fresh shiso leaves to plate the salad. That would make a dramatic presentation, but this was just a casual Sunday night dinner at home, and it probably would have required a trip to the Super 88 Market in Boston's Chinatown (the only place I know of to get Aisan produce). So, I skipped them.
This dish was a nice surprise. It was delicious and pretty, too. We really liked the taste of the rice with the nice crunch of the cucumbers and carrots. The rich and creamy avacado (perfectly ripe!) was the perfect contrast to the crispness. The rice was tender with the right mix of sweet and sour (sugar/vinegar balance). It really tasted like an unrolled California roll. The only thing missing was the imitation crab meat, but that's my least favorite part of California rolls anyway.
Date Cooked: April 19, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
2 years ago