Eating in Japan: Vegetarian Sushi

I was so excited to see ‘health sushi’ whilst at a sushi train in Nara. I can’t believe I haven’t thought of doing this before… I’ve added vegies to the inside of nori rolls, but haven’t made sushi with vegies on top. It is a misconception that Sushi always contains raw fish. “Sushi” or “Zushi” actually refers to Japanese dressed rice, served or wrapped with various ingredients, not only fish or seafood.  Here’s a recipe I’m going to try tomorrow.

Ingredients (makes 10 small hand rolls):
500ml white sushi rice or short-grain brown rice
600ml of water
60ml of rice vinegar
30ml of sugar
5 ml of salt
Selection of vegetables to place on top of sushi rice eg. asparagus, spinach, avocado, eggplant, cucumber, pickles etc.
Thin strips of nori (seaweed) sheets to help bind the vegetable to the rice.

1. Wash the rice several times until the water runs fairly clear when draining.
2. Transfer the rice to a saucepan or electric rice cooker and add the 600ml of water.
3. For electric rice cookers, turn on and wait for rice to finish cooking. For stove top cooking heat to boiling, cover tightly and simmer at lowest heat (allowing the rice to steam) for 15 minutes. Leave the lid on if possible.
4. While the rice is cooking — Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt together in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let your sushi vinegar cool to room temperature.
5. Remove the rice pot from the heat and let stand covered for another 15 minutes.
6. Take a wooden spatula or spoon and cut and fold the rice. Be gentle as you do not want to smash the cooked grains.
7. Move the hot rice to a bowl that will allow it to cook quickly.
8. Add one quarter of the sushi vinegar mixture. Mix with a folding motion. Add more of the mixture slowly, folding as you go, until all sushi vinegar is used.
9. Fan the hot rice mixture for about 5 or 6 minutes in order to remove excess moisture and create a glossy shine to your rice. Your rice should have a slight chewiness and be sticky to the touch. For extra cooling, place in fridge or freezer, stirring every few minutes to cool the rice and remove hot air pockets.
10. Now you’re ready to make sushi rolls, take a palm-full of sushi rice and squeeze into shape. Place your favourite vegetable on top and, if required, use a thin strip of nori to bind the sushi together.

Check out this selection of vegetarian sushi, it’s mouth watering!

To the Japanese for their sushi trains and to my Dad for showing me how to cook sushi when I was a kid.

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