Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Meatless Mondays: Sushi Night

You can put pretty much anything in a sushi roll.

Like tempura asparagus.

And orange segments.

And Mexican-style salsa.

No, seriously. The Texan and I have eaten all of these things and more in various rolls we've tried, and loved them all.  So we figured fishless sushi would feel like a kind of roll we just hadn't tried yet.

We found a recipe for quinoa maki (the type of roll that is made with rice and filling and wrapped in seaweed, or nori) with avocado and Cajun portobello fillets in The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen*. The author argues that quinoa is more nutritious than white rice and has an interesting texture to boot, so is perfect for sushi. I was a little skeptical, so I made some sushi rice just in case, but the Texan and I both really liked the quinoa rolls.

Also just in case, I seared some extra-firm tofu in a bottled teriyaki marinade, because I was a little worried the portobellos would be gross. Which they weren't. At all. I marinated them in a mixture of white wine, Cajun seasoning, white wine vinegar, and some spices, and later seared them so they would dry out a bit and get crispy-ish. Perhaps they were selected for a veggie roll recipe because they tend to have that slightly slimy-chewy-raw texture the way raw fish does, but these were no fish substitute-- these were just good in their own right.

A friend sent me a sushi mat and some chopsticks from Japan when she lived there, so our rolling efforts were, you know, authentic and whatnot. 

The Texan's roll of choice: tri-color quinoa, portobello, tofu, avocado, and carrot.

Our rolls were a little messy. We admit it.
Sushi Night #2: Veggie rolls with avocado and spicy mayo

I made some miso soup with little cubes of tofu and sliced scallions, the way they do in some Japanese restaurants.  I used yellow miso, never having used any miso before, and figured I'd try the middle-of-the-road strength for my first time. (Miso comes in three colors: white, the least fermented and mildest, yellow, and red, the most fermented and most intense.) I would be game to try red miso next time, for a little extra flavor.

The recipe calls for a little mayonnaise to be mixed with a tiny bit of sambal oelek (Thai chili-garlic sauce) and then rolled up with the rest of the fillings. I completely forgot to make it, but we have had sushi at restaurants that have drizzled something similar over certain rolls, and we like it a lot. The next time we make sushi we will have to try it. Yes, there will be a next time. Even the Texan said so.

Fishless sushi is ridiculously inexpensive to make. Packs of nori can be gotten for under $2, and contain 10-12 sheets per pack. Each sheet yields 5 or 6 pieces, so one pack makes at least 50 pieces of sushi. Sushi rice is a little more expensive than regular white rice, but not astronomical, and regular rice with some binder ingredients could be used in a pinch. I used only one portobello last night, along with a carrot, an avocado, a few pea sprouts, and half a pack of tofu. That's it. You can use whatever combination of vegetables (or fruit, if you are feeling especially avant garde) you like, but you probably won't spend more than a few dollars on all the fillings. Go Team Vegetables!

* The title makes the book sound like the hokiest bunch of hippie crap on the planet, but it isn't. And it contains recipes for dairy substitutes that don't involve soy milk, so I am all over it. Dairy and I just don't get along.

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