This past Tuesday evening my daughter and I attended the third meeting of our 28 day challenge. It was very inspiring. The hilarious Jane Esselstyn, sister or Rip, nurse, longtime vegan, sex educator and mother of three gave a "cooking" demo and talk. Jane showed us the ins-and-outs of making vegetable sushi with brown rice and then we had a shot at rolling our own roll right then and there.
Now I am no novice at sushi making. Well, maybe I am a novice, but this wasn't my first time rolling my own sushi. But, this was the first time that I enjoyed it! I had made it before when I was in college, the normal kinda way, with white short grain rice that you dress with a concoction of sugar and rice wine vineagar in order to make it sticky. And holy cow, don't even try to pry that sticky rice off your hands. It was a frustrating mess and I never attempted it again.
But I LOVE sushi, so after 18 years, I was excited to give it another shot. And thank you-know-who that I did. The way Jane showed us how to do it, it wasn't difficult at all. And the key to making it so easy is using straight up BROWN rice instead of the white stuff with sugar and vinegar. Cooked short grain brown is naturally perfectly sticky enough to make a nice roll without being overly sticky.
So of course, Sophia and I did a little shopping at Whole Foods before we left for home and picked up everything we needed for our own sushi fiesta. That included 2 packages of sushi nori sheets, short grain brown rice, pickled ginger, wasabi powder, low sodium tamari and all of the veggies we wanted. The next morning I spent some time julienning the veggies and putting them into containers so that it would be really stress free when I got home that evening. As you can see, we used carrots, red, yellow and orange peppers, mango (yes, mango, do it! it's da bomb), bok choy,cucumber, avocado (wait until rolling to cut into the avocado or you will have a yucky brown mess) and bean sprouts.
Immediately when I arrived home from work I got my short grain brown rice going in my rice cooker. You don't need one of these, but they are magical. The ratio of rice to water is one cup of rice to two cups of water. I cooked three cups of dry rice and we used the whole thing. We eat alot and we had two rolls leftover for the kid's lunches the next day. Even my five-year-old discovered that she liked the sushi nori (that's the dark green sheets that are the outside of the rolls) but she was only willing to eat a roll with just rice, so that's what we made her.
I happened to have a sushi mat, but you really don't need that either. Just lay your nori sheet on a cutting board and place a scoop (about 3/4 cup) of the cooked and STILL WARM short brown rice near the bottom of the sheet. Use a rice paddle or spatula to smush the rice over the nori, but leave the top 1/3 of the nori sheet free of rice. Make sure to get rice all the way to the bottom right and left corners of the nori sheet, it makes a difference.
Place your julienned vegetables onto the middle of the rice. Each roll can be a little bit different. You can get really creative too. I've had rolls in restaurants that have cooked spinach in the center of the sushi and it was super yummy.
Now for the rolling. Start at the base of the nori sheet and fold it up and over, rolling tightly but delicately as the you don't want the nori sheet to tear. Oh yeah, you may want to watch how much filling goes into each roll as overstuffing them will cause unwanted nori tearing! Keep rolling up the roll from the bottom. The warm rice will cause the nori sheet to become pliable and a little sticky, which is a good thing, because that is what is going to hold your roll closed. If for some reason this isn't happening, just wipe the top edge of the nori sheet with water and it will stick to itself, sealing the roll.
And lastly, go for the slicing. Make sure to keep each roll rather thin (about 1/2"-3/4") because eating them is just easier if they aren't too big.
I really hope that you try this yourself at home. It is so worthwhile. We are going to have them again tonight for dinner because I have so much leftover sliced filling ingredients. Can you ever get tired of sushi?