Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sweetie Pie

By now, you will have seen my Valentine's Day tweet in which I boasted about the gift my husband gave me that night.  When I asked him if we were doing anything for the 'holiday,' he said, "We will be dining in; something culinary is going to happen."  And alas, sushi...and edamame...and good Japanese beer.

I've been talking about learning how to make sushi for months and now that I know how, I realize it's really not as hard as those pretentious restaurants with their sleek white rectangular plates and minimal presentations make you think it least not if you're making vegetarian sushi.

Last summer on a trip to Asheville, we ate at Heiwa Shokudo (and you should too).  Their sweetie pie roll was pure inspiration: tempura sweet potato, almond butter, and avocado.  Ever since then, I've thought of that roll fondly and with yearning.  So my dear root-vegetable hating husband figured out how to make it and taught me too.  The hardest part isn't even really that hard, it's just time consuming. 

Here's a recipe for the rice.  And in case you didn't know, the word sushi actually refers to the rice, not raw fish.

Sushi Rice
It makes a lot, enough for so so many rolls.

2 1/4 c sushi rice
3 cups water
1/4 c rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/4 c white sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt

Fill large bowl with cold water.  Sitr rice by hand and drain off water.  Repeat 3-4 times until water is clear.

Drain rice.  Place in saucepan with water & let stand 30 minutes.  Combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt then set aside.

Cover rice and bring to a boil.  Simmer on low for 15 min.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 min.

Scrape rice into plastic or ceramic bowl.  Stir in vinegar mixture until incorporated and no lumps remain.  Allow to cool at room temp.

The Rest of the Story

Here's how to tempura stuff...for a sweetie pie roll, cut sweet potatoes into strips like steak fries.

Don't forget the avocado, thinly slice it.

Depending on what kind of almond butter you're using (i.e. how spreadable is it), you may need to thin it down with a splash of soy sauce.

Assembly Required

Get your bamboo rolly mat.  Put your yaki sushi nori (seaweed) on there.  Get yo' fingers moistened and use your hands to spread a thin, even layer of rice onto the seaweed, leaving one finger width at the top and bottom.  Place the sweet potatoes and avocado in a line at the edge of the rice on the side closest to you.  Use the mat to roll it like a sleeping bag girl scout style (making sure that the mat doesn't get rolled up too).  Transfer to a cutting board and cut the roll in half; then cut both halves into 3 equal pieces.  Put a dollop of almond butter on the top of each piece.  (Spreading the almond butter on the rice before rolling just doesn't work...very messy).

If you want the rice to be on the outside, flip the seaweed over so the rice faces down.  Spread a thin line of almond butter on the seaweed end closest to you.  Tack your tempura sweet potato on top and place the avocado slices behind the sweet pots.  Continue as above.

Beautifully arrange your sushi and dig in.  Alternatively, you can have a sushi burrito (cut your roll in half only) which is great for a midnight snack.

So now you know the basics:  the bamboo rolly mat, the seaweed, and the rice.  Now start stealing menus from those pretentious (yet delicious) sushi joints around town and start making your own veggie rolls.  Let me know how it goes!

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