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Vegetable rolls

Simply Food

September 25, 2012
Wendy Monro , The Journal

It's no secret that my entire family loves with sushi. Sushi is the one type of food we all agree on if we are going out to dinner. This almost makes up for the fact that Daphne refuses to eat Mexican food. How can anyone not like Mexican food? It's baffling.

Recently, Daphne has become obsessed with sushi. She asks me to pick it up for her on my way to pick her up from school. I started making her pay for it herself with her own money. I couldn't afford to keep up with her addiction. Turns out, she's happy to pay.

We try to eat at our favorite sushi restaurant, Sen of Japan, once a week. For a while we were trying different sushi restaurants around town. Then, we discovered Sen. Well, now sushi is ruined any place else. Nothing compares to the deliciousness created at this restaurant. Their sushi chef creates these works of art. There is no need to add soy sauce to any of his dishes. Each piece of sushi comes complemented by its very own delicious sauce. A slice of sushi grade fish is not only topped with the sauce but it also has a tiny shaving of onion or a crispy fried caper. The combination of flavors is beyond belief.

Article Photos

Vegetable rolls with soy sauce and hot sauce.

I have been cutting down on all meats lately and this includes fish. So, I have been sampling the different vegetable rolls. Sometimes I order the avocado roll, which consists of sushi rice, nori and avocado. Last night, I tried a vegetable roll. This was the best non-fish sushi I had ever eaten. It was colorful, crunchy, and tasty. I ended up eating the entire roll myself because everybody else was busy devouring all of the rolls with fish. This roll had avocado, carrots and cucumbers in it. I really loved it. The creaminess of the avocados mixed with the crunchy carrots and the cool cucumbers was heavenly.

So, today, I decided to make a vegetable roll here at home for lunch. Claud made us some homemade sushi once with cooked crab. It was delicious. I figured I could give vegetable rolls a try. I never wanted to make sushi with fish because I was nervous about working with and serving raw fish. I figure I should leave that to the experts.

First, I knew I had to get the rice right. How do they make it so sticky? I researched a few recipes until I felt confident I could do it. It's actually pretty easy. You start with short grain white rice and cook it. Then, you add a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar and salt. I also added sesame seeds for increased texture, flavor and nutrients. I am pleased to say my sushi rice came out perfectly. However, that's where the perfection ended.

Fact Box

Vegetable rolls

Serves: 4

Time: 45 minutes (including cooking rice)

Prepare sushi rice (recipe follows)

4 sheets nori

1 carrot, julienne

zucchini, julienne

3 spring onions, julliene

1 avocado, small cubes

cup cilantro

1 lemon

Place sheet of nori on counter on top of a piece of cling film. Spread sushi rice over it and press it down. Add carrots, zucchini, onions, avocado and cilantro. Sprinkle on a bit of lemon juice. Roll it up using the cling film to press it all together. Remove it from the plastic wrap and place on cutting board. Cut the rolls into slices.

Sushi Rice:

2 cups short grain white rice

3 cups water

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Bring 2 cups rice and three cups of water to boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for another ten minutes. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Heat in microwave for 15 seconds. Mix this into the rice. Mix in sesame seeds. Allow this to cool to room temperature.

My original plan was to make these sushi squares. I saw a picture of sushi rolls where the nori was cut into squares, everything was stacked and a toothpick was placed to hold it all together. I thought this would be easier than rolling the sushi. Well, I was wrong. I don't know how they made their square sushi so beautiful. I had no such luck. Mine looked like squares of messiness.

Then, I tried to roll it like I see the sushi chefs do at the restaurants. That isn't so easy either. I rolled one up and had such a difficult time cutting through the nori. My roll came out like a disaster but it still looked better than the squares.

Just as I was getting discouraged, Claud walked into the kitchen. He looked at what I was doing and gave me a puzzled expression.

"Did you sprinkle the nori with water?" He asked.

"No," I replied.

Claud used to work at a sushi restaurant in London. I swear he is a man of so many talents. Then, he just took over. I grabbed the camera and started snapping pictures as he went to work. Within three minutes, he made beautiful vegetable rolls. Thank goodness for him.

There were just a few tricks I didn't know about. First, you need to sprinkle the nori with water so it is more pliable and easier to roll and cut. Second, you must spread the sushi rice across the entire piece of nori. Third, you need to use something like cling film to roll it up and squeeze it all together. In the restaurant, they use a bamboo mat. So, now I think I can do it. It might take a bit of practice. I didn't feel like practicing today. Instead, I plated it up for everyone and we sat down to lunch. My vegetable rolls consisted of zucchini, carrots, spring onions, cilantro and avocado. They were so beautiful (thanks to Claud) and scrumptious.



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