Monday, September 10, 2012

Meatless Monday: Vegetable Sushi Rolls

Sushi is so cheap to make at home. It's surprisingly easy as well.

I know some people think of sushi and associate it with raw fish. It's true that a lot of sushi is made with raw fish--but not all. My best friend has worked at a lot of sushi restaurants, and when I go visit her, I order cucumber rolls. They're just sushi rolls stuffed with rice and cucumber, and they're sometimes sprinkled with sesame seeds. At a restaurant, they cost about $4 for a roll (6 pieces), but at home, they cost about 50 cents for the same amount.

Andrew and I started to make our own at home because it's a fun meal that's crazy inexpensive. We have date nights at home once or twice a week. On those nights, we make dinner just for the kids, and once they're in bed, we make a special dinner for ourselves.

Before Andrew even gets home from work, we make rice. We are so lucky to have a great rice maker that we got as a wedding gift from my in-laws. I don't normally advocate for spending extra money for having the best of anything (like, who really cares if your ice cream scoop or duster is top of the line or not?), but this rice maker has made a world of difference for us. We have rice with a lot of our meals because all we have to do is mix rice with water and push a button. That's it. It's so easy that we just have Oliver make the rice. Seriously. It has settings for brown rice, white rice, sushi rice, etc. You just tell it whether or not you've washed the rice first, and it changes the cooking accordingly. Love it.


Here's Oliver setting the rice cooker. It plays "Twinkle, Twinkle," when it starts and finishes, which Oliver sings along to. Oh, and it has a "keep warm" setting and an "extended keep warm setting," which lets us make our rice hours in advance.    

Alright, rice is cooking!  Now let me go through a list of everything you need. Our regular grocery store sells both seaweed and wasabi (optional) in the Asian section. While it's still fairly inexpensive there, you can certainly get it for much cheaper at an Asian grocery store.

One package of roasted seaweed
Here's what we use. It costs less than $2 and lasts for 2-3 dinners, depending how hungry we are:

2 cups sushi rice (regular white rice will be fine; it just won't be as sticky)
Vegetables sliced long and thin
We used my favorite, sliced cucumber, as well as sliced avocado, slices of fried tofu, and some cooked eggs:
Soy sauce for dipping
Optional: sesame seeds, wasabi, and fresh ginger

Making Sushi

Here comes the fun part!
Andrew and I just use a silicone mat that we have at home. You can buy a sushi mat made with bamboo rods. The bamboo helps keep your rolls straight when you roll your sushi. We're not too picky, so we just use what we have on hand.

Take one sheet of seaweed and place it on your mat. Take your rice and spread a thin layer all over the seaweed, leave a couple inches on the bottom uncovered, kind of like so:

Place a few slices of vegetables near the top of your roll going across, like this:

This next part is fun but challenging. You need to roll up your sushi. Until you get good at it, your rolls won't look very nice (but they'll still taste good!). Don't be too hard on yourself; it just takes practice.

I start by rolling the top edge of the seaweed over my vegetable strips.

Then, I grab the mat from above and pull it tight over my roll.

I press down gently and hold the roll tight, as I use the mat to help roll the sushi roll toward the bottom.

Here is my cucumber roll all rolled up. I keep it seem-side down to prevent it from unraveling. 

Then, I use a knife and gently cut all the way through the roll. The ends will never be as pretty as the rest of the slices.

Here is my cucumber roll. I did not sprinkle sesame seeds on top, but you can do that if you choose.

Repeat with each of your desired fillings. You can see our cucumber roll at the top, the avocado roll on the left, and the tofu and egg rolls on the right. They're not as pretty as the rolls you get at a sushi restaurant, but I'm proud of my handiwork.

For dipping, we add a touch of prepared wasabi (about $5 for a tube at the supermarket) to a bowl of soy sauce. Wasabi is very strong, and you'll find yourself crying if you add too much. Start with a pea-sized amount and mix it in well to your soy sauce. You can always add more.

We did not slice up any ginger with our meal. At sushi restaurants, they slice up very thin pieces of fresh ginger. You eat it between different types of sushi to cleanse your palate. Sushi chefs are amazing and often are able to make roses and flowers and other pretty things out of slices of ginger. I am not a sushi chef, so I skip that part. Just like the seaweed and wasabi, fresh ginger is typically much cheaper at an Asian grocery store than your super market.  So, you can save even more money by shopping for those ingredients there, if there's one near your house.  If you do, be sure to swing by the frozen section and pick up a package of mochi ice cream.  You'll thank me later.

If you make this at home, let your kids try some without wasabi. I'll be posting a fun sushi alternative for little kids tomorrow, too.


Anonymous said...

Great tips and ideas! Just a quick note...the ginger slices at sushi restaurants are pickled. You probably wouldn't want to bite into a slice of fresh ginger! :) And way to go for sticking to a regular date night!

whirledpeas1129 said...

No wonder the ginger at restaurants is so soft and pliable. Thank you!